ira (justira) wrote in linguaphiles,

Translating: Tatyana and Sergey Nikitin - "To the Music of Vivaldi" | Никитины - Под музыку Вивальди

Hello all! I've been meaning to make a project of translating some of my favourite bits of Russian nostalgia -- music and cartoons mostly -- into English, and it seems like I've finally gotten started. I haven't done much translation work before, though, and Russian can be very tricky to translate nicely into English, especially poetry and lyrics, just given all the aspect markers and fluidity in grammatical categories and playing with word order and such. So I would definitely appreciate any suggestions or refinements!

I may not have picked the easiest project to start with, but it's one of my favourites -- I was trying to translate this song for a friend tonight anyway and thought, why not. So here is my attempt, with footnotes and questions, below the cut:

I haven't really attempted to translate the rhyme scheme at all -- I hope to eventually do these as subtitles on videos of these songs, so hopefully people could *hear* the rhyme and rhythm while I provide the meaning. However, suggestions as to making it more poetic are always appreciated!

I know I tend to vary between more idiomatic and more literal translations (e.g. "за окном", I could go with just "outside" or "outside the window"). Advice welcome here too! Basically advice on anything.

Finally, a little about me: I'm a native but somewhat rusty Russian speaker -- I grew up speaking Russian but have lived in English-speaking environments for the majority of my life, and am not too widely read in my native Russian, so I am likely to miss stuff like literary allusions and such. I'm also likely to just plain make mistakes, especially in the realm of connotation and interpretation. I'm also a writer though, so I very much appreciate connotation and poetics, so I do like to try and get those across nicely. Beyond that, I have a degree in linguistics, so don't be afraid to get technical with me -- I generally have a more casual approach outside of actual academic contexts (if you couldn't tell by my use of things like "floaty" in my notes below), but if you've got the background/knowledge, don't be afraid to dish it out! I love it =D

Youtube: Tatyana and Sergey Nikitin - To the Music of Vivaldi (lyrics in the description)

(ETA: the original lyrics are by Alexander Velichansky (Александр Величанский) -- he's credited in the description of the video linked above, but I completely forgot to note this here. I'm most familiar with the piece as it is sung here, and the translation is intended to eventually subtitle this version as well, but I should have credited the original -- my apologies! Much thanks to dimwits for the reminder!)

My translation:

Под музыку Вивальди,
Вивальди, Вивальди.
Под музыку Вивальди,
Под вьюгу за окном,
Печалиться давайте,
Давайте, давайте,
Печалиться давайте,
Об этом, и о том,
Об этом, и о том.
Вы слышите, как жалко,
Как жалко, как жалко,
Вы слышите, как жалко,
И безнадежно как
Заплакали сеньоры,
Их жены и служанки,
Собаки на лежанках,
И дети на руках.
И стало нам так ясно,
Так ясно, так ясно,
Что на дворе ненастно,
Как на сердце у нас.
Что жизнь была напрасна,
Что жизнь была прекрасна,
Что все мы будем счастливы,
Когда-нибудь, бог даст.
И только ты молчала,
Молчала, молчала.
И головой качала
Любви печальной в такт.
А после говорила,
Поставьте все сначала,
Мы все начнем сначала -
Любимый мой , и так.
Под музыку Вивальди,
Вивальди, Вивальди
Под музыку Вивальди,
Под славный клависин,
Под скрипок переливы,
Под завыванье вьюги,
Условимся друг друга
Любить, что было сил.

To the music of Vivaldi,
Vivaldi, Vivaldi,
to the music of Vivaldi,
to the sound of the blizzard outside the window,
let us sorrow, (1)
let us, let us,
let us sorrow,
about this and that,
about this and about that.
Do you hear, how pitifully, (2)
a pity, a pity,
You hear? How pitifully,
and how hopelessly,
the liege lords have begun to cry,
their wives and maids,
the dogs in their beds, (3)
the children in their arms.
And it became so clear to us
so clear, so clear, (4)
that in the yard it is raining
as it is in the heart, for us.
That life was in vain,
that life was beautiful (5)
that we will all be happy,
someday, God willing.
And only you were silent (6)
were silent, were silent
and shook your head
in love's sorrowful rhythm. (7)
And then, you said,
set it all back to the start,
we'll all start over--
my love, and so let us:
To the music of Vivaldi
Vivaldi, Vivaldi
to the music of Vivaldi,
to glorious harpsichord (8),
to the violins' flow (9)
to the howling of the blizzard, (10)
let us vow
to love each other with what strength we have. (11)

Печалиться is often translated as "to mourn", or the noun form as "sadness". But mourning usually means you are mourning *for* something or someone, whereas, to me, the poem seems to indicate a less... directed/targeted feeling. More like "just be here and experience this sad but beautiful emotion." So I went with the (relatively rare, I suppose?) verb form of "sorrow" to try to capture this.
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Now, I might be misreading this, but as far as I can tell there is a neat grammatical trick going on here: when this line starts, it could be saying something like "Do you hear? What a pity" like one says "what a pity" about a situation. But as the sentence unfolds, it becomes clear that it's "Do you hear how pitifully (the lords are crying)". I think that's a neat trick, and tried to capture it a bit by using the "a pity" construction in the refrain.
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No particular thoughts here, just an overall worry that I'm not capturing this section (starting with the "liege lords" bit) well =\
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ясно can be used to mean "clear" much the same way as in English to indicate nice weather, e.g. "a clear, sunny day". I feel like the juxtaposition of this (possible) weather connotation/interpretation and the rainy imagery right after is deliberate, but wasn't sure, and wasn't sure how to convey it if so.
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To translate прекрасна I feel like "glorious" would be also be appropriate (in spirit if not in precisely literal translation), and, I think, more powerful. I'm really tempted to just use "glorious", but the actual literal version appears later on and I'm hesitant to repeat. Thoughts? Also I wish I could capture the way "in vain" and "beautiful" rhyme here -- that is so lovely and lovingly done.
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Not sure if I am imagining this one. "И только ты молчала" to me sounds like it's sort of saying both "only you, out all this/everyone, were silent" but also maybe "and still/yet, you were silent"? Anyway, a check is appreciated!
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Ahhhh okay this one was really hard to do in a way that wasn't completely awkward. The idea is simple: she is shaking her head to the sorrowful beat of love. But That just... doesn't sound as nice in English. "In time with sorrowful love?" But that "in time" could be mistaken for other meanings. Augh. Suggestions welcome :(
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Sorry sorry sorry this might just be plain translation fail but I for the life of me could not remember for sure what клависин was and "harpsichord" is a complete guess. Somehow couldn't even find translation help for this online, but maybe I just failed at looking :(
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This is possibly my favourite and least translatable bit of "Russian is just freaking beautiful"-ness in the whole poem. The Russian, перелив, means "overflow", evokes a kind of floaty feeling; when describing the violin sound, in the plural, it makes me imagine water spilling out of a container, intersecting with other overflows of water. It's a beautiful way to describe the sound of violins flowing together. I considered changing this line to "to the overflowing violins", but am not sure how well it fits. Either way, this is one of my favourite bits and it's so hard to capture what I get out of it in Russian.
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"Howling" is... accurate, but, well. завыванье evokes something more longing and mournful to me, something spiraling, maybe skirling. Would "skirling" work here actually? Or is that too shrill?
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I know this is a bit idiomatic, and the English equivalent would be something like "to love as we can". But I am sort of helpless in the face of the literal beauty of a lot of Russian idioms. I like the literal meaning here and tried to capture it a bit. Did it work?
[back up]

(ETA: Made an adjustment in the last two lines and removed a note, having thought better of a translation on my own.)

(Yes, the last few lines are clearly some of my favourites and I'm all picky and fiddly about trying to do them right haha >.> )

Phew okay. Sorry to go on about it. Any thoughts welcome!
Tags: lyrics, russian, translation

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