Edelweiss

Posting about Julie Andrews and The Sound of Music recently brought me to “Edelweiss” (the song) and Edelweiss (the plant).

The song.From Wikipedia:

“Edelweiss” is a show tune from the 1959 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music. It is named after the edelweiss, a white flower found high in the Alps (Leontopodium alpinum).

From the movie:

The sappy lyrics:

Edelweiss, Edelweiss
Every morning you greet me
Small and white, clean and bright
You look happy to meet me
Blossom of snow may you bloom and grow
Bloom and grow forever
Edelweiss, Edelweiss
Bless my homeland forever

The plant. On this blog, in a plate from Taschenflora des Alpen-Wanderers by Ludwig Schröter, 1899, with some comments about the plant as an emblem of Switzerland. From Wikipedia:

Leontopodium alpinum, usually called edelweiss …, is a well-known mountain flower, belonging to the Asteraceae (the daisy or sunflower family).

The plant is unequally distributed and prefers rocky limestone places at about 1800–3000 m altitude.

… As a scarce short-lived flower found in remote mountain areas, the plant has been used as a symbol for alpinism, for rugged beauty and purity associated with the Alps, and as a national symbol especially of Austria and of Switzerland.

… The common name is from the German, in standard spelling Edelweiß …, literally translating to “noble-white” … The scientific name Leontopodium is a Latin adaptation of Greek leontopódion (λεοντοπόδιον) “lion’s paw”.

The plant in the wild:

2 Responses to “Edelweiss”

  1. Joseph F Foster Says:

    Readers might be interested in knowing that there another, older, and a good deal less sappy Edelweiß song is. It is in 4/4 and can actually be played as a march, though it usually isn’t. It’s usually just called “das Edelweiß”, but probably more easily found under its opening couplet:

    Wer nennt mir jene Blume, die allein
    Auf steiler Alp erblüht im Sonnenschein?

    ‘Who [will] name me that Flower which only on the steep Alps
    blossoms in the Sunshine? ‘

    Or by the last line of the first verse:

    Die Alpenkönigin heißt Edelweiß.

    ‘The Alpenqueen [is] call [-ed]* Edelweiß.’

    *[ A closer translation is ‘calls’ but that isn’t idiomatic Standard English. This German verb is actually kind of interesting because the subject is the semantic patient but its morphology isn’t passive or reflexive.]

    I have found this song attributed as a folksong from Styria (Steiermark), but I have also found it attributed to an author, Moritz Peuschel. I do not know which is true — perhaps neither or maybe both if Peuschel adapted a song or poem already making the rounds.

    There is also the Edelweiß Marsch, the march of the “Alpen Corps”, i.e. the Mountain Troops (Gibirgstruppen, or Gebirgsjäger ) of the German Army, who wear an Edelweiss on their sleeves and caps. It is probably easiest found by the first line of the chorus:

    Es war ein Edelweiß
    It was an edelweiss.’

  2. astraya Says:

    (semi-regular reader, first time commenter) I got married in South Korea, and the (mostly) western-style reception centre had a karaoke machine (perhaps I should say ‘norae bang machine). One of the selections was Edelweiss (which we sang), which it described as a ‘Swiss Fork Song’. I commented at the time that that was three times wrong – if anything, it’s a folk song; if anything, it’s Austrian, but it’s actually neither.
    Reading Wikipedia this morning, I discovered that it was the last song Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote together.

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