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Was für ein Lied soll dir gesungen werden (1896) no.23

Part of a series or song cycle:

Italienisches Liederbuch

Was für ein Lied soll dir gesungen werden

Was für ein Lied soll dir gesungen werden,
Das deiner würdig sei? Wo find ich’s nur?
Am liebsten grüb ich es tief aus der Erden,
Gesungen noch von keiner Kreatur.
Ein Lied, das weder Mann noch Weib bis heute
Hört oder sang, selbst nicht die ältsten Leute.

What kind of song shall be sung for you

What kind of song shall be sung to you
That does you justice? Wherever can I find it?
I’d prefer to dig it from deep in the earth,
As yet unsung by any creature.
A song that till now no man nor woman
Has ever heard or sung, however old they be.
Translation © Richard Stokes, author of The Book of Lieder (Faber, 2005)


Hugo Philipp Jacob Wolf was an Austrian composer of Slovene origin. He is particularly known for his art song, or Lieder. His Lieder display a concentrated expressive intensity unique to Wolf. 

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Paul Johann Ludwig von Heyse was a distinguished German writer and translator. A member of two important literary societies, the Tunnel über der Spree in Berlin and Die Krokodile in Munich, he wrote novels, poetry, 177 short stories, and about sixty dramas. The sum of Heyse's many and varied productions made him a dominant figure among German men of letters. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1910 "as a tribute to the consummate artistry, permeated with idealism, which he has demonstrated during his long productive career as a lyric poet, dramatist, novelist and writer of world-renowned short stories." Wirsen, one of the Nobel judges, said that "Germany has not had a greater literary genius since Goethe." Heyse is the fifth oldest laureate in literature, after Doris Lessing, Theodor Mommsen, Alice Munro and Jaroslav Seifert.

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