In The Second Ring, music plays an important role in the characters’ lives. Axel loves music of the great masters, whom he defines as Franz Lehár, Emmerich Kallmán, and other operetta composers. Of all the Strausses to choose from in the opera houses, spelled with one ‘s’ or two, his favorites are Johann and Oscar.
While staying at an ancient inn in Northern Norway, he finds a gramophone that happens to be in barely working order, and a disc of one of his favorite melodies, the waltz from Die Lustige Witwe, that is, The Merry Widow.
This version is sung by Mme. Marcella Sembrich about 1908. Axel would like it much slower, almost a dream-like waltz of the mind.
A Song Book specially written and printed for the Fallschirmjäger:
And one of the songs in it is “Rot scheint die Sonne” (Red shines the sun)
Of course, Lieder is important to Axel as well, since such so-called “Art Songs” were part of every German boy’s upbringing, and such gems as Schumann’s Dichterliebe would be in his brain almost constantly. Listen to this excerpt with the great Fritz Wunderlich singing – particularly the third number (“Die Rose, Die Lilie”) and the seventh, (“Ich grolle nicht”– at 7:00 in). One is the lightest, most schmetterlingest thing one can imagine, so short that music teachers used to ask students to sing the whole thing in one breath (that is a feat!); and the plaintive, passionate “Ich grolle nicht” (which means ‘hey, I’m not complaining!’ – but once the singer says that, all he does for the rest of the piece is … grolle.).