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The raving thoughts of a misanthropic academic

April 16, 2007

Song of the Week: Estrellita

The Pax Plena song of the week comes to you from a somewhat different genre featuring classical composer Manuel Ponce's famous ballad Estrellita. Written in the early 20th century, Estrellita became a unique sensation quickly working its way into the lexicon of Mexican folk songs.

Originally set to Spanish lyrics, the song tells the story of a female voice who confides in her little star about the hidden love she feels for an unnamed man- a love which may ultimately carry her to the grave. Ponce takes the monologue (which could easily be viewed as a prayer of sorts), and sets it against an opening melody that quickly covers an entire octave. The resonant strains of the violin carry the line to greater heights reminding the listener of the confidence being communicated to the star solitaire.

 The melody remains at all points both tender and intense.

The song was eventually made famous among western audiences when performed by the renown violinist Jascha Heifetz in the 1939 Archie Mayo film They Shall Have Music. A clip of the Heifetz rendition can be heard below - presumably as extracted from the movie. Lyrics in Spanish and English follow. Enjoy!



Estrellita
Estrellita del lejano cielo,
que miras mi dolor,
que sabes mi sufrir.
Baja y dime
si me quiere un poco,
porque yo no puedo sin su amor vivir.

¡Tu eres estrella mi faro de amor!
Tu sabes que pronto he de morir.
Baja y dime
si me quiere un poco,
porque yo no puedo sin su amor vivir.


Estrellita
Little star of the distant sky,
you see my pain,
you know my anguish.
Come down and tell me
if he loves me a little,
because I cannot live without his love.

You are my star, my beacon of love!
You know that soon I shall die.
Come down and tell me
if he loves me a little,
because I cannot live without his love.

Update 09/22/08: This post remains one of the more popular songs of the week we've done, so I felt it needed an update.

To wit, the original video once posted above is no more. But I've also included a stunning rendition of Estrellita by violinist Joshua Bell. Enjoy!

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12 comments:

Gwyn said...

Good choice! :)

Tory said...

I thought you might approve!

RMF said...

05/20/2007
Recuerdos de mi padre Rubén cuando, inspirado en malancolía, cantaba con pasión ésta canción...

Estrellita

Manuel M. Ponce (1882 - 1948)

Estrellita del lejano cielo,
que miras mi dolor,
que sabes mi sufrir.
Baja y dime
si me quiere un poco,
porque yo no puedo sin su amor vivir.

¡Tu eres estrella mi faro de amor!
Tu sabes que pronto he de morir.
Baja y dime
si me quiere un poco,
porque yo no puedo sin su amor vivir.

Thanks for posting this video.

Tory said...

No problem. Glad you enjoyed it!

Anonymous said...

SSC June 2009
I was much taken by the beautiful music,the updated UTube rendition was an unexpected surprise.
I was researching the lyrics for a memoir I am writing of my grandmother's experiences living in Mexico beginning in 1910. She refers to a tamalada she attended, where the Spanish hostess played this piece on the piano and sang the song. I would love to use part of the lyrics and beautiful translation in my book. Do you know who to ask for permission?

Tory said...

Hi Anonymous-

Sorry for a long delayed reply to your query. It was a busy summer for me. My correspondences have lapsed, unfortunately.

Regarding your question, the author of the song according to the best of my research abilities is unknown. Given the age of the lyrics, and their international use, I would assume attributing them to 'anonymous' should suffice for any publications in avoiding any intellectual property issues.

Hope the memoir is coming along well. The lyrics sound like they would be a nice addition to your work.

parrotheadmom said...

thank you for this post; my father in law has just passed and this was his song with his wife. They would listen to it before going back to Medical School. It will be played at his funeral next week. He passed yesterday on his 87th birthday and his grandson will play it on violin. He was a great man and we celebrate him and all he has done.

Tory said...

Hi parrotheadmom -

Thanks for your comment and for dropping by.

I'm sorry for your family's loss. But thank you for sharing the beautiful story about your father-in-law and his wife. I think music has a unique way of helping us stay connected to those we love across space, and across time - not unlike the girl from the song, confiding in her little star.

I will keep your family in my prayers next week.

Sincerely,

Tory

Jennifer said...

I first learned this song in the early 90's taught by my classical teacher - Sor Graciana Raymundo here in Manila, Philippines. Love this video, thanks for posting. I have good memories...

FabioBarros said...

Bidu Sayão sang Estrellita in a perfect way. I hope you enjoy it!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvEbN-MODDw

Anonymous said...

onsouMiMy mother's name was Estrella and she use to sing the song Estrellita beautifully when I was a child. Great memories when I always hear it

Anonymous said...

I learned to play Estrellita on the piano when I was nine years old. I enjoyed the song for its beauty, but especially for the left hand “crossover” on the high notes in the chorus. My piano teacher, (my mother) encouraged me to play it for a school talent show, which I did successfully. That experience convinced me that I could be a performer, which I indeed became.

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