Movement 10: Devastation of the Outside World
On Sunday, Amsterdam was bombed.
The planes dived and climbed.
The air was abuzz with the drone of engines.
The streets are in ruins, countless are wounded.
In the smouldering ruins, children search forlornly
for their parents.
It makes me shiver
to think of the dull, distant drone
of approaching destruction.
I wander from room to room,
climb up and down the stairs
and feel like a songbird,
whose wings have been ripped off
and who keeps hurling itself
against the bars of its dark cage.
“Let me out, where there’s fresh air and laughter,”
a voice within me cries.
How would you feel if you wanted to be yourself and happy but couldn’t because an outside force was preventing you? Or if you saw how something/someone outside of your own life needed your help but you were prevented from helping?
Theme in other Musical Examples:
Kelly Clarkson – Breakaway:
Avril Lavigne – Runaway:
Steve Reich – Different Trains, Europe During the War:
Josh Groban – Weeping:
Anne faced the struggle of wanting to be happy and outside but was forced to stay in hiding. She could see the children looking for their parents yet could do nothing because she had to keep her family safe. Put yourself in her place. How would this make you feel?
Examining the Theme and Historical Context through the Text/Music:
The lyrics for this movement are straightforward and the music carries the weight for the lyrics. A drone starts the movement; this depicts the calm after the bombing and the destruction left in its wake. Shortly after the men chant the first three lines we learn how the city was bombed and what Anne Frank heard from her hiding place. The choir joins with, “The streets are in ruins, countless are wounded.” There are no moving parts at this point. This gives a very hollow and haunted feeling. Then the baritone’s line is offset from the group and has more movement to it. This is reminiscent of what the children would have been like, since the moving line is set to the lyrics, “Children searching for their parents.” This line seems very light and has almost a hopeful feeling; this could be depicting how even though the children know something horrible has happened they have hope for finding their parents. There are soprano solos throughout the movement that are supposed to be Anne’s voice/thoughts regarding the chaos around her.
When the text “wander from room to room, climb up and down the stairs” is sung, the melody is fluid. It represents Anne’s wandering and is repetitive because that is all she can do day after day. The tone of the music changes as the chorus sings “feel like a songbird, whose wings have been ripped off and who keeps hurling itself against the bars of its dark cage.” The music here is homophonic so the lyrics can be heard. This change in tone is to show how Anne has something important to say and how even though she is not able to control the outside it does not stop her from expressing the loneliness she feels inside. When the chorus reaches the word “dark,” suddenly there is only the soloist, alto, and tenor, thus furthering the loneliness Anne feels.
“Let me out where there is fresh air and laughter” is sung three times. The accompaniment is louder while the choir softly sings this line twice, but then when it is sung for the third and final time the accompaniment drops out and the choir is forte. This shows how Anne is begging to be let out but can’t be heard because of everything around her. Upset, and probably angry, she finally cries out.