Movement 2: The Capture Foretold
Theme: Suspense and Foreboding
Up above you could hear the breathing,
eight pounding hearts, footsteps on the stairs,
a rattling on the bookcase.
Suddenly, a couple of bangs.
Doors slammed inside the house.
We are in blue sky, surrounded by black clouds.
See it, the perfectly round spot?
but the clouds are moving in,
and the ring between danger grows smaller.
We look at the fighting below,
and the peace and beauty above,
but the dark mass of clouds looms before us,
and tries to crush us. O ring, ring, open wide and let us out!
How would you feel if you knew something was going to happen, but you didn’t know exactly when?
Theme in other Musical Examples:
Kristof Penderecki – Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima:
Edvard Grieg – Peer Gynt: In the Hall of the Mountain King:
Hector Berlioz – Symphonie Fantastique: March to the Scaffold:
Mumford & Sons – Dust Bowl Dance:
Would you try to prevent something from happening, or would you just prepare yourself? How would you feel afterwards if you knew you could have prevented it, and didn’t?
Examining the Theme and Historical Context through the Text/Music:
Here Anne understands and expresses that people are in danger of being captured and sent to concentration camps. The breathing, pounding hearts, footsteps, and rattling that Anne refers to in the first few lines can be related to the anxiety felt as officials search the house where she and her family are hiding. Musically, these words are sung continuously on the same note, indicating a slow foreboding. The music characterizes the mood of Anne as she hides. The tremolo in the strings at the beginning of this movement personifies the anxiety Anne is feeling. The first musical line in the piano and clarinet, in a minor interval, acts as a question mark, wondering what may happen next. When the vocalists come in at forte, at “suddenly,” the mood changes instantly. “Eight pounding hearts” is repeated in a way similar to a pounding heartbeat. You can hear the fear and anxiety in both the vocal lines and especially in the string interjection. Many composers use techniques such as these to sonically represent feelings and action. For example, Hector Berlioz imitates the sound of real-life bands that accompanied those about to be executed as well as the thoughts and feelings of the soon-to-be executed in his “March to the Scaffold” from Symphonie Fantastique (listen above).
Anne metaphorically places herself in the sky to escape the fighting going on around her. This music completely contrasts the first section; it is more heavenly, with more consonance. The contrast between peace and fighting represents the emotional turmoil Anne is facing as she and her family flee, knowing that people will be captured and killed. Many composers use dramatic change in style and mood to further emphasize a second mood. For instance, the second movement of Mahler’s First Symphony includes a minor, haunting lullaby, while transitioning into a klezmer-like dance. This puts more emphasis on the dance section. Contrast draws attention to differences in music. This section in Annelies involves a sudden turn in the vocals (“we are in blue sky”) that match the tone of the text. The contrast of the male voices and the female voices demonstrate the difference between the fighting and oppression Anne and her people are feeling, and the peace that awaits them, either in freedom or death, as they sing “ring ring, open wide and let us out!”
Connecting Concepts and Context:
The Manhattan Project. When Harry S. Truman dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of WWII, he knew what the consequences would be, both short term and long term. All of the individuals who contributed to the Manhattan Project understood that at some point, the atomic bomb would be used as a weapon. How do you think they felt, knowing that this kind of death and destruction was inevitable? Indeed, consider a variety of the death and destruction surrounding WWII. Anne Frank’s story is just one of the many sorrowful tales that this war bred.