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Seligkeit (1816) D433


Freuden sonder Zahl
Blühn im Himmelssaal
Engeln und Verklärten,
Wie die Väter lehrten.
O da möcht' ich sein,
Und mich ewig freun!
Jedem lächelt traut
Eine Himmelsbraut;
Harf' und Psalter klinget,
Und man tanzt und singet.
O da möcht' ich sein,
Und mich ewig freun!
Lieber bleib' ich hier,
Lächelt Laura mir
Einen Blick, der saget,
Daß ich ausgeklaget.
Selig dann mit ihr,
Bleib' ich ewig hier!


Joys without number
Bloom in the halls of Heaven
For angels and transfigured souls,
As our fathers taught us.
How I’d love to be there
And rejoice eternally!
A heavenly bride smiles
Sweetly on everyone;
Harp and psalter resound,
And there’s dancing and singing.
How I’d love to be there
And rejoice eternally!
I’d sooner stay here
If Laura smiles on me
With a look that says
I’ve to grieve no more.
Blissfully then with her
I’d stay forever here!
Translation © Richard Stokes, author of The Book of Lieder (Faber, 2005)

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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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Ludwig Heinrich Christoph Hölty, was German poet who is considered the most gifted lyric poet of the Göttinger Hain, a group of young poets who saw themselves as heirs of the great lyric poet Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock and whose work was characterized by love of nature and the expression of national feeling.

He was influenced by Johann Uz and Friedrich Klopstock, but his love for the Volkslied and his delight in nature preserved him from the artificiality of Uz and the unworldliness of Klopstock. A strain of melancholy runs through all his lyrics. His ballads are the pioneers of the rich ballad literature on English models, which sprang up in Germany over the next few years.

To many, the opening lines of Hölty's poem Der alte Landmann an seinen Sohn ("he Old Farmer to His Son) are the very embodiment of all Prussian virtues. This poem was set to music by Mozart to a melody adapted from the aria Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen from his 1791 opera The Magic Flute. It was played daily by the carillon of the Potsdam Garrison Church where Frederick the Great was initially buried.

Many of Hölty's poems were set to music by composers including Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, and Brahms. Several streets and schools in Germany are named after him, including the Hölty-Gymnasium in Wunstorf near Hanover; in 2008, the biennial poetry prize Hölty-Preis was created in his name.

Among the many poems set by Schubert are An den Mond (D193 and D468),  An die Nachtigall (D196), Blumenlied (D431), Frühlingslied (D243 and D398), Klage (D436), Mailied (D129, D199 and D202), Minnelied (D429), Die Nonne (D208), Seligkeit (D433), Totengräberlied (D38 and D44) and Winterlied (D401).

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