|About this Recording
NA230312 - GRIMM: Fairy Tales, Vol. 2
Fairy Tales by The Brothers Grimm
Two hundred years ago, before radio, television, CDs and films, it was up to the storyteller to entertain and amuse children and adults. There were books, of course, but the idea of a novel was still relatively new in Europe.
But since man began to talk he seems to have made up stories. From far back in history —the mists of time—he and she have told stories. They were told in country villages during the dark winter nights when, because the people were poor, there was just the flickering of the fire in the hearth and the gentle illumination of a few candles.
These became folk tales, passed down from father to son, from mother to daughter. They were stories about the people they knew. And also the animals— to whom they gave unforgettable characters.
Have you ever seen a hare in March, speed, crazily across the countryside at top speed for no apparent reason? No? Well— they do that even now. There they are, standing in the field, their tall ears (much longer than a rabbit’s) prickling slightly; if you look VERY closely you may even be able to see the muscles under their fur twitch just a little…And then suddenly they are off, harum-scarum, shooting across the pasture in all crazy directions.
In that same field there may be a hedgehog. Have you seen a hedgehog move? Well, of course, if you get near a hedgehog it may decide it will roll into a ball to protect itself with its prickles— which is a rather effective defence against possible attackers. It can run, faster than a tortoise, but not nearly as fast as a hare. It kind of scampers.
So anyone can see that in a straight race, the hare will always outrun the hedgehog.
But one storyteller, back in the mists of time, thought—what would happen if it did come to a competition. Are there other ways to win? What would happen if the hedgehog was just a little bit more cunning than the hare? One boy or girl may be more cunning than another, so why not animals?
That was the beginning of the story of The Hare and the Hedgehog.
These ancient storytellers believed in cunning, in magic and magicians, in the stupidity of some people and the wisdom of others; in bravery, in cowardice, in jealousy, in greed—and they made up stories about them.
All far back in the mists of time.
In the villages and the small towns people knew these stories, these folk tales, fairy tales. They were told by country people in every part of the world, from Europe to the Middle East, to Asia, Australia and New Zealand; to the Americas and even as far north as the land of the Eskimos. Of course, the Inuit, as the Eskimos are properly known, didn’t tell stories of hares and hedgehogs because those animals didn’t live in the land of ice and snow. They told tales of seals and whales and the white fox and the polar bear.
Some 200 years ago, there lived in Germany two brothers, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. Jacob was one year older than Wilhelm. Their father was a lawyer and they studied law as well, but they liked books and spent a lot of time in libraries. And they liked stories. They walked out into the countryside around Hesse, the town where they lived, and spoke to country people who told them stories. Lots of them. About angry magicians who lived in towers of ice; of soldiers, of spinners, of drummers, of thieves and cobblers. And The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids. And The Hare and the Hedgehog.
The Brothers Grimm would walk back to the town, go to their desks—probably make a cup of tea—and sit down and write. They took a clean sheet of paper, put the title at the top, dipped their pen into the inkwell and began to write. After every few words they would have to dip the pen into the inkwell again, because it only held a little bit of ink at a time.
Over the years they collected more than 200 stories, which they published in three volumes. Many of them came originally from a woman called Marie Muller. The first book, containing 86 stories, was called Kinder-und Hausmärchen, which is German for Children’s and Household Tales. That was in 1812, and they proved very popular. So they published another volume and then a third. They became quite famous. Wilhelm even married one of the storytellers he met in the country, and they had four children. Night-time storytime in that home must have been especially exciting!
Some of their stories became especially popular—Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, Sleeping Beauty, The Brave Little Tailor and Tom Thumb—became very famous. But many of the others are just as delightful and here, in this second volume, is another selection which I hope will amuse and entertain you as they have amused and entertained millions of children, throughout the world, for nearly 200 years. And the many hundreds of years before the Brothers Grimm walked out into the countryside, heard them told, and wrote them down.
Notes by Nicolas Soames
The music on this recording was taken from the NAXOS catalogue
GLAZUNOV Suite Caractéristique
GLAZUNOV Orchestral Works Volume 8
BIZET L’Arlésienne Suite
BIZET Jeux d’enfants
Music programmed by Sarah Butcher
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