Richard Strauss: “Morgen”: Transcribed For Cello

This cello transcription of “Morgen” (Tomorrow), a sublime song (lieder), composed in 1894 by Richard Strauss (1862-1949), is presented here in the original key so it can be played with any of the standard vocal-accompaniment piano parts (available on Just like with many of the cellofun song transcriptions, here, in the Performance Versions, some minor liberties have been taken with the rhythms in the cello (vocal) part. This is because, now that we are liberated from the constraints of the syllabic structure of the lyrics, we can “improve” the melodic flow if we want (see Transcribing Vocal Music For Cello). Most radically, and with apologies to Strauss, the first cello entry in this cellofun version comes one beat earlier than Strauss indicated for the voice. It just seems so much less abrupt, and so much more beautiful and delicate, to enter earlier, but from an absolute “da niente” (imperceptibly).

A few notes have been added for the cello in bars that were, for the singer in the original version, silent (bars 29-31 and 38-43). On the cello, we can do things that a singer cannot do, such as blend in with the accompaniment and climb up to heaven on a stairway of natural harmonics (bars 37-43), which only seems to add beauty and atmosphere to Strauss’s magical-but-minimalist ending. These are very considerable editorial liberties and will definitely not please our more purist tendencies. Rather than be horrified and offended, please feel free to play the Literal Transcription, in which only Strauss’s notes are present !

We can also interpret the many rests in the vocal line very liberally (and not literally). Singers need to breathe between phrases but we string players don’t, so perhaps we could play the song with a more continuous legato ? Certainly, the rests are not “silences” (see Problems Of Music Notation).

Because of the very slow tempo, rubatos, silences, spread chords (grace notes) and triplet/duplet alternations, it is surprisingly easy to get separated from our accompanist and it is to avoid this that the piano part is written out (on a single stave) below the cello part.

  1. Edited Performance Version
  2.    Clean Performance Version
  3.    Literal Transcription

Many piano accompaniment audios are available on YouTube. Here, below, is one of them with many thanks to the pianist Hye-Kyung Chung: