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Songs

Abschied von der Harfe (1816) D406

Abschied von der Harfe

Noch einmal tön’, o Harfe, 
Die nur Gefühle tönt! 
Verhalle zart und leise 
Noch jene Schwanenweise, 
Die auf der Flut des Lebens 
Uns mit der Not versöhnt.
Im Morgenschein des Lebens 
Erklangst du rein und hell!
Wer kann den Klang verwahren? 
Durch Forschen und Erfahren 
Verhallet’ und versieget
Des Liedes reiner Quell.
In spätern Jugendjahren
Hallt es schon zart und bang,
Wie Finkenschlag im Märze;
Mit des Entknospens Schmerze
Erbeben Herz und Saiten
Voll Liebe und Gesang!
Am Sommertag des Lebens
Verstummt das Saitenspiel!
Aus sehnsuchtsvoller Seele
Lockt's noch, wie Philomele,
Schon selt'ner, aber rührend
Nur Schwermut und Gefühl.
O schlag’ im dunklen Busen
Der ernsten Abendzeit!
Will um das öde Leben
Des Schicksals Nacht sich weben, 
Dann schlag’ und wecke Sehnsucht 
Nach der Unsterblichkeit!

Farewell to the Harp

Sound once more, O harp; 
you express only emotion! 
Softly, tenderly,
let that swansong fade away 
which in the flood of life 
reconciles us to our misery.
In the dawn of life
you resounded, pure and bright! 
Who can preserve that sound?
With our searchings, our experience, 
the pure source of your song
fades and runs dry.
In later youth
It sounds tender and anxious,
Like the finch’s song in March;
With the pain of budding growth
The heart and the strings quiver,
Filled with love and song.
In the summertime of life
The strings fall silent.
From a yearning soul
They still call, like the nightingale,
More rarely now, yet touching us,
All melancholy and tenderness.
O sound in the dark heart
of solemn eventide!
When the darkness of fate would spin its web 
around life’s barrenness,
then sound forth, and awaken longing
for immortality!

Composer

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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Poet

Johann Gaudenz Gubert Graf (& Freiherr) von Salis-Seewis was Swiss poet.

Salis-Seewis came from an old Swiss aristocracy. His father, baron Johann Ulrich von Salis-Seewis (1740–1815), was created a (primogenitive) Comte (count) at Versailles on 1 February 1777 having married Freiin Jakobea von Salis-Bothmar (1741–1791) in 1760. The Reichs-freiherrdom dated back to 20 January 1588, for Dietegan v. Salis.

Between 1779 and 1789 Salis served as an officer in the Swiss Guards in France in Paris, France, until the French revolution made him quit. Salis-Seewis was one of the favourites of Marie Antoinette. In the next year Salis-Seewis undertook a journey to the Netherlands and Germany (including Weimar), meeting Goethe, Herder, Schiller, Wieland, and Matthisson. He particularly connected with Matthisson, and an intimate friendship developed.

The poet colleagues shared a sense of Sturm und Drang and empathy, calling it the ""Bündner Nachtigall" (Graubünden nightingale). Salis-Seewis returned to Switzerland in 1791, living in Chur and marrying there, on 26 December 1793, the 22-year-old Ursina v. Pestalozzi (Chur 29 September 1771 - Malans 27 June 1835). They had two sons; Johann-Ulrich Dietegan (Comte) v. Salis-Seewis (1794–1844) and Johann-Jakob (Freiherr) v. Salis-Seewis (1800–1881). He had a lively involvement in the political changes in his homeland over the next years lively involved, endorsed the alliance of the Three Leagues of Switzerland to the new France, and the proclaimed Helvetic Republic. After the area was occupied by Austria in the following year, Salis-Seewis and his family had to flee to Zurich. There, he was appointed inspector general of the Helvetican troops. This activity brought him the nickname "poet general". He later went to Bern and received a place on the Court of cassation. When the Act of Mediation was issued by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1803, it became possible for Salis-Seewis to return to Graubünden. There he held several public offices until 1817, then he withdrew as Swiss federal colonel. His father had died two years before.

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