Philip de Vos. Hoe vertaal mens ‘n Mozart-brief?

 

Vandag, 27 Januarie, is Mozart se verjaarsdag.

 

 

Mozart – volgens baie – vir my inkluis, is die grootste komponis ooit.

Mozart, van wie gesê is:

God needed Mozart to let himself into the world. – uit Peter Shaffer se toneelstuk Amadeus.

Mozart is happiness before it has gotten defined – Arthur Miller.

I believe in God, Mozart and Beethoven – Richard Wagner.

Mozart is the greatest composer of all. Beethoven “created” his music, but the music of Mozart is of such purity and beauty that one feels he merely “found” it – that it has always existed as part of the inner beauty of the universe waiting to be revealed. – Albert Einstein

Maar daar is ander wat anders dink: If a man tells me he likes Mozart, I know in advance that he is a bad musician. – Frederick Delius.

 

 Oor die jare het heelwat persone probeer om die Mozart-briewe te vertaal – veral in Engels en Frans, en elke keer het die vertalers by sekere probleme vasgesteek.

In haar inleiding tot die eerste uitgawe van haar bekende The Letters of Mozart and his Family (1938) sê Emily Anderson: “It should not be necessary to offer any apology for an English edition of letters of Mozart and his family. The only existing translations – are to be found in two collections, one by Lady Wallace (1864) and the other by M.M. Bozman (1928)”

 

 In 1864 noem Lady Wallace: “Though the essential substance of the letters has already been made known by quotations from biographies by Nissen, Jahn and myself, still in these three works the letters are necessarily not only given very imperfectly, but in some parts so fragmentary, that the peculiar charm of this correspondence – namely the familiar and confidential mood in which it was written at the time – is entirely destroyed.”

En Max Kenyon in sy 1956 A Mozart letter Book voeg by: “All editors have to face the impossibility of printing Mozart’s letters as they were written: What about Mozart’s made-up languages, partly vulgar but amusing, childish and partly a sort of code? And what about the misspelling and backward spelling when in high spirits?

En veel later kom Robert Spaethling se Mozart’s Letters, Mozart’s Life (2000)

 

 “Young Mozart never had any formal education: his only teacher was his father, who instructed him and his older sister in music, history, German and probably some Italian, French and Latin. This lack of schooling is evident in Wolfgang’s prose, especially in his early years, when the teenager wrote letters to his sister with little concern about language and spelling. In this new translation, I have striven to bring out Mozart’s own voice and diction … and even his phonetic spelling.”

Met vier verskillende vertalers word dit tog interessant om vertalings van dieselfde brief te beskou:

Een van die heel eerste briewe van die jong Mozart was in Januarie 1770 toe hy en sy vader Leopold deur Italië getoer het:

 

 Hier is hoe Lady Wallace dit in 1864 vertaal:

“The opera at Mantua was very good. They gave Demetrio. The prima donna sings well, but is inanimate, and if you did not see her acting and only singing, you might suppose she is not singing at all, for she can’t open her mouth and whines out everything, but this is nothing new to us.”

Emily Anderson in 1938, se vertaling is min of meer dieselfde:

The opera at Mantua was charming. They played Demetrio. The prima donna sings well, but very softly …

Dan egter kom daar probleme. Destyds tussen opera-bedrywe is selfs ballet-uittreksels bygevoeg of anders hansworsery wat so ’n teateraand etlike ure laat duur het. So byvoorbeeld word Mozart se beskrywing van ‘n hanswors-toneel deur Lady Wallace vertaal:

“There is a grotesco who jumps cleverly, but cannot write as I do – just as pigs grunt.”

Emily Anderson in die 30’s praat van: “A grotesco was there who jumps well, but cannot write as I do, I mean, as sows piddle.”

Robert Spaethling in die jaar 2000 kon dit seker nader beskrywe as enige van die ander: “There was a grotesco dancer who can’t write like me: as pigs piss.”

Later word die grotesco danser weereens deur beide Anderson en Spaethling genoem, maar in die laat 19de eeu was mense blykbaar ordentliker as dié van vandag en word die volgende toneel heeltemal verswyg en uit Lady Wallace se vertaling gelaat.

Hier is hoe Emily Anderson dit beskrywe:

“The orchestra was not bad. In Cremona it is good. The first violin is called Spagnoletto. The prima donna is not bad; she is quite old, I should say, and not good looking.”

Hier is Spaethling se vertaling van wat tussen bedrywe op die verhoog plaasgevind het.

Ook hou Spaethling hom by die oorspronklike gees van die briewe, spelfoute en al soos die veertienjarige Mozart dit beskrywe het:

“The opera in Mantua was nice, they played Denetrio, the prima Dona’s singing is good, but too soft, and if you didn’t see her act with her hands but only hearde her sing, you would think she is not singing at all becaus she doesn’t open her mouth and just whines everything out very softly, but this sort of thing is nothing new to us …The Orcchestro was not at all bad. The Cremono orchestro is good, the first violinist is called Spangoletto. The prima Dona not bad, pretty old I think, and unattractive, and doesn’t sing as good as she acts… A grotesco dancer was there as well; he let out a fart each time he jumped.”

Hierdie was een van die heel eerste briewe van die jong Mozart geskryf in 1770, en vir my is Spaethling se Engels seker die naaste aan hoe Mozart geskryf het en en word hy met al sy gebreke ’n mens van vlees en bloed.

 

 Nóg Anderson, nóg Spaethling verswyg Mozart se vulgariteite, veral in die briewe aan sy niggie Maria Thekla – ook bekend as Bäsle. En vir diegene wat dink dat die Mozart-vulgariteite in die film en toneelstuk Amadeus oordrewe is, kan gerus die Spaethling-vertaling gaan lees, en besef dat Schaffer tog na aan die waarheid gekom het.

 

 ’n Hoogtepunt van my 2½ maande toer deur Noord-Amerika was toe ek vir Robert Spaethling en sy vrou Ellen kon ontmoet.

Alles was blote toeval: ’n Paar jaar gelede begin ek gesels met ’n jong Amerikaanse skrywer Troy Ygnacio Soriano in die stoomkamer by die Virgin Active gym in Groenpunt, en toe hy my tuis besoek, sien hy die Spaethling-vertalings tussen my Mozart boeke. “I know him. He is the gentleman whom I saw in a shopping mall in San Francisco and then helped when he had problems with his cellphone.”

En so het ’n e-pos korrespondensie tussen my en Robert Spaethling begin. Ek het hom vertel van my novelle Tot siens Tommasino oor die 1770 vriendskap tussen Mozart en Thomas Linley en het hom my ongepubliseerde Engelse weergawe bloot vir sy eie genot gestuur. En hier is hoe hy dit beskryf het: “A love story without sex. Two wunderkinder in search of their own humanity.”

Op 28 September 2011 het Peter en ek by San Francisco se Ferry Building vir Robert Spaethling en sy vrou Ellen gewag. Hoe sou ons mekaar herken? Ek sou ’n rooi hemp dra, en hy ’n kierie en ’n strooihoed.

 

 Vir twee uur lank het ons gepraat en was ek bewus van die warm hand van ’n tagtigjare wat myne vashou. En met die weggaan het hy vir my gesê: “Leb Wohl! I know we will never meet again.”

Vir Robert Spaethling en Ellen sal ek onthou lank, lank nadat ek Old Faithful en Mount Rushmore vergeet het. En dit alles te danke aan Troy Soriano toe hy die Spaethling-vertalings van die Mozart-briewe op my rak gesien het.

 

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6 Kommentare op “Philip de Vos. Hoe vertaal mens ‘n Mozart-brief?”

  1. Peter Louis van Dijk :

    Absolutely fascinating. And touching. Dankie vir al jou harde werk, navorsing en pragtige skryfstyl! Groete, Peter

  2. Leon Retief :

    Wonderlik Philip, soos altyd! Nou weet ek ook sommer waarom ek nog nooit kon vat kry aan Delius se musiek nie…

  3. Johnnie :

    Happy Birthday Mozart!!!

  4. Andries Bezuidenhout :

    In ons woonstelblok hoor mens soms ander mense se musiek. Sondagoggend het iemand Bob Dylan gespeel. Ek het eers gedink dis die alte van ʼn NG kerkkoor, maar toe val daardie onmiskenbare bekfluitjie in. Dis egter die lekkerste as die klarinetspeler oefen, veral as Mozart se klarinetkonsert aan die beurt kom. Ek wonder wie die klarinetspeler is.

  5. wonderlik

  6. Cas Vos :

    Skitterend Philip. Dis hemels. Namens Mozart en die Engele, baie dankie.

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