Songs From a Secret Garden
Secret Garden’s debut album after their momentous win of the European Melody Grand Prix in 1994. Upon the release of this album, composer Rolf Løvland wrote the following – “Somewhere within us all there is a secret garden. A garden in which we can seek refuge when times are rough, or retire to in joy or contemplation. For years I have visited my own secret garden in search of organic harmony and melody. The songs on this CD are some of what I’ve found”.
“In 1994 I met an artist who through the soulful simplicity of her instrument gave my songs a voice. She is the famed Irish violinist Fionnuala Sherry. Together we have tended the secret garden – and the crop is here for your picking. It is my sincere wish that by uncovering some of our secrets, you will pay a visit to your own garden”. – Rolf Lovland
Tracklist, Lyrics & Purchase
Selected Audio Clips
Nocturne, written in 1992, is a simple melody inspired by traditional moods. It’s possible the combination of mood and simplicity has made it so universally popular, appealing to audiences from Japan to Iceland. Yes, presenting it to an audience of four hundred million people in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1995 was an awesome risk for Secret Garden. Winning it meant a fantastic launch. Nocturne was the start of a special musical relationship, and represents the beginning of the Secret Garden history. We will always be grateful and inspired by the beautiful voice of Gunnhild Tvinnereim, and the famous 24 words by Petter Skavlan.
Lyrics by Petter Skavlan
La dagen få
sin hvile nå
og natten vil våke for den,
Se mørket må
så natten kan føde en dag.
Now let the day
Just slip away
So the dark night
May watch over you
Though darkness lay
It will give way
When the dark night
Delivers the day
Norwegian and Irish culture and traditions are unified in this piece as a kind of Secret Garden synthesis. Pastorale refers in a way to a spiritual landscape. Music is a link of communication between people. It makes us understand and discover when words are not enough. Music can also be a guide to find our own sources, and to put names to our own emotional landscapes.
Song From A Secret Garden
The idea of Secret Garden is one that everyone can relate to. We all have landscapes inside us, secret rooms where feelings and impressions grow as a little garden. Some talk about it, write poems or letters, paint, or even take a walk to reflect over life. We all have our own way. But what is common to us, is a strong emotional feeling that is an essential part of our nature. My way of dealing with this is through music, and everything I write comes from my secret garden. This simple piece had no other name than “Pianopiece in C minor” for many years. But when the Secret Garden project evolved, I felt this piece could express the essence of my ideas–the simple melody straight from the heart, expressed through Fionnuala’s soulful, vulnerable and naked violin playing.
Sigma was originally a piano piece I wrote in a melancholic night during a production I worked on in Bergen. The title, taken from the actual name of the studio, has stayed with us ever since. Not knowing how to include Sigma in the Secret Garden project, Fionnuala suggested adding a sung counter-melody, almost Gregorian in style. David Agnew wrote the Irish lyrics. With the lovely voice of the 11 year old Rhonan Sugure and the Irish National Chamber Choir, the recording of Sigma occurred with a very strong spiritual mood.
Lyrics by David Agnew
Bim ar thoir an comhartha
Scaoileas m’anam saor
Caithfidh mo chroi a
Roimh siochan theacht crum
Ni leanfaidh Brón
Is Béim sásta le mo ghrá
Mé a chomhlíonadh
Bim ar thoir an comhartha
Scaoileas m’anam saor
Caithfidh mo chroi a
Roimh siochan theacht crum
Sí an ghaoth do ghuth
Sí an bháisteach do dheora
Grian, do chroí ar las
Do spiorad mo shlánú
I search for the sign
That will set my soul free
My heart must be pure
So that I can find peace
My grief cannot last forever
My love will be fulfilled
I pray a sign will help me
Be all that I can be
Repeat first verse
The wind is your voice
The rain is your tears
Your burning heart
And spirit is my salvation
© 1995 Universal Music Norway / Blue Dandelion Publishers, IMRO
This is a somewhat impressionistic piece based on major 7ths and 9ths. The spirits of Erik Satie and Claude Debussy are present. The title Papillon (French for butterfly) also leans in that direction. This piece was written during a studio recording session in Iceland in 1994, and is perhaps the music I like best in the collection from a composer’s point of view. The phrases in the descending melody line are telling a story, and should not only be played as a broken chord. The music should be simple and delicate just like a butterfly dancing from one flower to another.
Serenade To Spring
This piece was written in 1991 and recorded by Elisabeth Andreasson on her CD, Stemninger. The vocal version called “Danse mot vår,” has since been frequently performed. We included it as an instrumental version in the album, with the violin performing the vocal part. A beautifully played violin can be just as expressive as the human voice.
This piece was written in 1976 and is the oldest one in this collection. Its inspiration stems from the modal tonality found in the music of Grieg and other composers influenced by their own cultures. Atlantia is colored by Norwegian traditional music, and in the recording of it we see that tradition interact with the very similar Irish tradition. We emphasized that similarity with the use of the low whistle and the Uileann pipes. Is it the Atlantic Ocean that connects the two cultures? Is Atlantia that Norwegian Viking ship sailing through the early mist into Dublin harbor? In a way I can’t explain, I feel a musical relationship to Irish music.
We have invisible heart-strings between us. Our hearts are woven into these fine and sensitive threads that tie us together. These strings can only be seen with our hearts. But sometimes we step on these strings because we are not careful enough and that causes strong pain. Heartstrings are about missing someone and the invisible strings of our hearts.
Adagio was written in Spain while working on a project in 1988. This is quite natural for me, as I have always had a great urge to define my own creative identity while working for other artists. A creative balance. Bach, the great master, inspires Adiago. So often I’ve been taken by the strong melancholy in Bach’s slow movements. Adiago was originally released in a piano book called “Nine Pianopieces for Maria and Other Children” in 1989 with the title “Where the Words End.” Music is to me stronger than words and when I can’t find words to express my feelings, I use music.
The Rap is a strange story. I originally wrote it as a Norwegian traditional tune in 4/4 time. Fionnuala Sherry and I recorded a demo of it in my home studio. It was the last song that late evening and it had no title. Fionnuala said, “Let’s do the wrap,” and ever since the title has been The Rap. One night during the recording of the CD in Iceland, I “heard” the tune in 5/4 time in a dream. When I woke up the next morning, I was singing it the way I had dreamt it. The subconscious had been making a successful twist and all of a sudden, The Rap began to swing. We welcomed the Irish influence with the use of whistles, pipes and drums. The rhythm seems complicated, changing from 5/4 to 6/4, but I’m sure you find the melody quite natural and easy to “sing,” without having to count!
The word “chaconne” refers to a boroque dance form, a melody moving to a constant bass figure or ostinato. This Chaconne meets none of thesis requirements. But the poetic sound of the word and a strong baroque feeling is the background for the title. The French Suites by Bach have made a strong impression on me, and some elements in Chaconne remind me of them. Chaconne was written in 1994.
Here the “Italian emotions” is awakened. Sentimentality under the Italian moonlight. Feelings are sometimes suppressed and we are afraid to show them. I am very fascinated by the old black and white silent movies because the actors could only show emotions, no dialogue. I could envision a movie like that when Cantoluna was written. The title itself is a very free construction of words made of canto, which means “song” in Italian, and luna, which means “moon.” On the recording we used the mandolin and the clarinet to let the romantic, Italian feeling through. People often ask what kind of music Secret Garden is. Is it classical, Norwegian or Irish traditional music, world music or new age? I don’t know. I only know that the music comes straight from the heart, and contains elements of all this. Some even says it sounds like film music because it’s so visual. That opinion is the closest I come to a classification, because I often see a story when I write music. Maybe it could be called “music to a film never shown?”
Ode to Simplicity
This song expresses everything I think is important to my music: simplicity. To allow melody to be naked and fragile, one that can’t be wrapped or covered, is a very difficult thing. It requires more courage and strength to achieve the simple than the complex, as you painfully have to submit to the powers of nature, and open up. Simplicity was written at the time of my daughter’s departure to study abroad for one year. There are a lot of emotional undertones to this piece, which we certainly laid bare through the starkness of the melody. Performing Simplicity is very special to both Fionnuala and I, as it reflect the strong elements that have helped create Secret Garden.
‘You raise me up’ is translated into more than 40 different languages. This beautiful Creole lyric version (Kenbem), recorded by Haitian-American singer Malou Beauvoir, is one of the resent ones.
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A wonderful version of a wonderful and unforgettable Sacret Garden song ! ❤
Heard this live in concert when you came to Sydney Australia, oh so many years ago. One of the best concerts my hubby and I have been to.
C'est magnifique ♥️
I follow you from Québec ♥️!
👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 Belíssima interpretação! 🇧🇷
Wonderful sacred voice and spirit. ⚘❤ m.youtube.com/watch?v=txD5rRzSaJ4&feature=youtu.be
Thank you so much for this post which I just discovered now. I am honoured and deeply touched, Rolf, for the beauty and grace of your melody was the inspiration and of course Brendan Graham’s spiritual lyrics. Thank you for this song .. in it’s initial version.. Secret Garden’s.. which opened our hearts in the first place.
It is so touched to listen the songs of “You raise me up” as well as “Strength” that Secret Garden performed together with Espen G. Especially so far there are still many Countries are still suffering from COVID-19 pandemic, we truly need the Strength to rise again! Right now we listen to these songs every day to comfort our mind, appreciated Secret Garden as well as Espen G. to perform these songs so nice, especially we think Espen is the best one to perform You raise me up together with Tracey Campbell, thank you very much!
Hello, regards from Ukraine. I am a fan of your music and just writing to inform you that a shameless person here, in Ukraine, in a city of Mykolayiv, plagiarized your album "Song from a Secret Garden". This woman is called Olga Skvirskaya and she published a book called "Song from a Secret Garden", using the visual concept of your album in the cover of it.
Brendan Graham and Rolf working on ‘You Raise Me Up’ 20 years ago.
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Such a great song, thank you
My daughter walked down the aisle at her wedding to this amazing song. It was perfect – my son-in-law had recovered from a life threatening accident that put him in ICU followed by weeks of rehabilitation. My eyes always mist over when I hear it – the words evoke so many memories and emotions. ❤
So lovely echoes #Secret #Garden 😘🙏🙏🎹🎻🎶🎤#Stay #Safe
What a song! Amazingly talented songwriters and musicians who chose the best for the original release with Brian Kennedy’s vocals. This original version still remains the best in my opinion. Secret Garden & Brian Kennedy. Pure excellence!
The most beautiful song 🎵I know of
This song can still makes me emotional at special moments, even after 20 years! Thanks guys for giving us such a beautiful song 💖
Thank you for such a beautiful song ❤️
Not a bad combination when you put an Irish person and a Norwegian together lol.
Yes, the original version is the best of all! Thank you so much for this gorgeous song!
Heel mooi, ook om zelf met het koor te zingen
Thank you for sharing your talents with this wonderful song.
Thanks for giving Us such a Great song
Thank you for the most beautiful song ever written ❤️
That hymn is an anthem for me! So thankful you received the inspiration to write it!
The most beautiful song ever written ❤🎶🎶🎶🎶
🇸🇯 🇸🇯 🇸🇯
For Beautiful Inspiración
Fantastiske låten 💖🙏🏼🎶
Happy birthday to our dear Rolf from all the Secret Garden family and friends!🌹
Wishing you a beautiful day and look forward to celebrating together when we leave Covid behind🙏🏼
(Photo: Finn Rune Christiansen)
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Happy Birthday from Brazil!! <3
Happy Birthday Rolf 🎁🎊🎉🎈🎂
Oh yes, looking so much forward to celebrating your birthday after leaving Covid behind us – with much Secret Garden music and you and Fi and all the other lovely guys on stage🥰 Wish you a great birthday together with your loved ones! My biggest wish for you besides creativity is health for you and your family and, of course, the Secret Garden family. Hope to see you all sooooon😘
Happy Birthday. I'm your fan. Fron Brasil!!
Happy Birthday. 🎂🎉
Happy Birthday ❤
Gratulerer med dagen 🙂
Happy birthday, Rolf! 💐
Happy Birthday !
Happy birthday from New York
Happy Birthday! 🎼
Happy Birthday Rolf 🤗
Happy Birthday from Blokhus, Denmark 🇧🇻🇩🇰
Happy birthday! 🍀
Best wishes from London 🎉❤ XX
Gratulerar på födelsedagen 🎂🎂
Herzliche Geburtstagsgrüße aus Deutschland💕 Familie Eva Sachs🌼
Hipp Hipp 🥳🎉🎈🎂🍾🎶🇳🇴
Happy birthday 🎂🌸
On this day March 19th we celebrate #WorldSleepDay – a global call to action about the importance of sound sleep habits.
We are thrilled to participate in a very special collection of peaceful music with a new piano version of Sleepsong.
We wish you all a peaceful weekend 🌙
It's a beautiful world.
I think it's a person's mind.
World Music Love
Lindo demais! A alma voa …
Very nice .Rolf is a genius.
I have just listenened to Rolf‘s piano-only version of Sleepsong several times. Really beautiful❣️ Any plans to make the sheet music available?