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Heimliches Lieben (1827) D922

Heimliches Lieben

O du, wenn deine Lippen mich berühren,
So will die Lust die Seele mir entführen;
Ich fühle tief ein namenloses Beben
Den Busen heben.
Mein Auge flammt, Glut schwebt auf meinen Wangen;
Es schlägt mein Herz ein unbekannt Verlangen;
Mein Geist, verirrt in trunkner Lippen Stammeln,
Kann kaum sich sammeln.
Mein Leben hängt in einer solchen Stunde
An deinem süssen, rosenweichen Munde,
Und will, bei deinem trauten Armumfassen,
Mich fast verlassen.
O! dass es doch nicht ausser sich kann fliehen,
Die Seele ganz in deiner Seele glühen!
Dass doch die Lippen, die voll Sehnsucht brennen,
Sich müssen trennen!
Dass doch im Kuss’ mein Wesen nicht zerfliesset,
Wenn es so fest an deinen Mund sich schliesset,
Und an dein Herz, das niemals laut darf wagen,
Für mich zu schlagen!

Secret Love

When your lips touch me,
desire all but bears away my soul;
I feel a nameless trembling
deep within my breast.
My eyes flame, a glow tinges my cheeks;
my heart beats with a strange longing;
my mind, lost in the stammering
of my drunken lips, can scarcely compose itself.
At such a time my life hangs
on your sweet lips, soft as roses,
and, in your beloved embrace,
life almost deserts me.
Oh that my life cannot escape from itself,
with my soul aflame in yours!
Oh that lips ardent with longing
must part!
Oh that my being may not dissolve in kisses
when my lips are pressed so tightly to yours,
and to your heart, which may never dare
to beat aloud for me!
Translations by Richard Wigmore first published by Gollancz and reprinted in the Hyperion Schubert Song Edition

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Franz Peter Schubert was an late Classical and early Romantic composer. He produced a vast oeuvre during his short life, composing more the 600 vocal works (largely Lieder), and well as several symphonies, operas, and a large body of piano music. He was uncommonly gifted from a young age, but appreciation of his music was limited during his lifetime. His work became more popular in the decades after his death, and was praised by 19th century composers, including Mendelssohn, Schumann, Brahms, and Liszt.

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Karoline von Klenke was the daughter of Anna Luise Karsch (the daughter of an innkeeper who received no formal education. Her life was marked by poverty and two abusive marriages, but she showed an early literary talent and her natural gifts as a poet stunned her contemporaries).

Karoline herself also became a respected poet and dramatist. Her poem Heimliches Lieben became the subject of a mystery concerning its authorship, which was cleared up by Faust Pachler, Marie’s son, who was a boy aged eight when Schubert visited his family in Graz. It was for the young Faust that the composer has written the piano duet Kindermarsch in the autumn of 1827. In a letter to Konstantin von Wurzbach written in the 1870s, Pachler, then in his sixties, described his search for this song’s poet:
"In the catalogue of Schubert’s works, apart from the one compiled by G Nottebohm, who was enlightened by me, the poem of the composition Heimliches Lieben is listed as being by the Graz poet K G von Leitner. But it has for its authoress the well-known daughter of Karschin, Frau von Klenke, and starts ‘Myrtill, wenn deine Lippen mich berühren’ and has the title An Myrtill. I myself have seen a song composed to this latter, original, text among the estate of the Court actor, Heinrich Anschütz. My mother’s teacher, Professor Julius Schneller, sent it to her, with the title and the opening altered, together with some others which he had particularly liked, and he either forgot to name the authoress or did not know himself who the words were by. My mother thought it so very well suited to composition that she sent it, with many others, to Schubert. I first discovered the original title and opening through a sheet of music offered me for sale (it too was from Anschütz’s estate); and from some biographical notes in Deutschlands Dichterinnen, an album of poetry, I found the name of the poet or rather the poetess."

It seems that without realising it Schubert had composed a song to a text by Karoline Klenke, daughter of the ‘Naturdichterin’ Anna Luise Karschin (1722-1791) and mother of Helmina von Chézy. The text for Heimliches Lieben seems to have been one of Marie Pachler’s particular favourites. In placing the song at the beginning of the collection of songs dedicated to her the composer acknowledges this as her lied, composed under her roof and at her suggestion. The memoirs of Leitner’s mentor, the history and philosophy professor Julius Schneller (1840) imply, very discreetly, that the poem might have had a shared secret significance for him and Marie. (Perhaps it was Schneller who first substituted ‘O du’ for Klenke’s original ‘Myrtill’.) One always had a suspicion that the companionship of the worthy brewer Karl Pachler might have been insufficiently stimulating for such a gifted musician and artist, but the tenor of the poem makes clear that whatever might have passed between Julius Schneller and Marie Pachler, respectability was maintained by a veil of discretion.

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