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Der greise Kopf (1827)

Part of a series or song cycle:

Winterreise (D911)

Der greise Kopf

Der Reif hat einen weissen Schein
Mir über’s Haar gestreuet.
Da glaubt’ ich schon ein Greis zu sein, 
Und hab’ mich sehr gefreuet.
Doch bald ist er hinweggetaut,
Hab’ wieder schwarze Haare,
Dass mir’s vor meiner Jugend graut – 
Wie weit noch bis zur Bahre!
Vom Abendrot zum Morgenlicht
Ward mancher Kopf zum Greise.
Wer glaubt’s? Und meiner ward es nicht 
Auf dieser ganzen Reise!

The Grey Head

The frost has sprinkled a white sheen 
upon my hair:
I thought I was already an old man, 
and I rejoiced.
But soon it melted away; 
once again I have black hair, 
so that I shudder at my youth. 
How far it is still to the grave!
Between sunset and the light of morning 
many a head has turned grey.
Who will believe it? Mine has not done so 
throughout this whole journey.

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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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Johann Ludwig Wilhelm Müller was a German lyric poet.
Wilhelm Müller was born on October 7, 1794 at Dessau, the son of a tailor. He was educated at the gymnasium of his native town and at the University of Berlin, where he devoted himself to philological and historical studies. In 1813-1814 he took part, as a volunteer in the Prussian army, in the national rising against Napoleon. He participated in the battles of Lützen, Bautzen, Hanau and Kulm. In 1814 he returned to his studies at Berlin. From 1817 to 1819, he visited southern Germany and Italy, and in 1820 published his impressions of the latter in Rom, Römer und Römerinnen. In 1819, he was appointed teacher of classics in the Gelehrtenschule at Dessau, and in 1820 librarian to the ducal library. He remained there the rest of his life, dying of a heart attack aged only 32.

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