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Songs

Antigone und Oedip (1817) D542

Antigone und Oedip

ANTIGONE 
Ihr hohen Himmlischen erhöret 
Der Tochter herzentströmtes Flehen: Lasst einen kühlen Hauch des Trostes
In des Vaters grosse Seele wehn.
Genüget, euren Zorn zu sühnen, 
Dies’ junge Leben – nehmt es hin; 
Und euer Rachestrahl vernichte 
Die tiefbetrübte Dulderin.
Demütig falte ich die Hände –
Das Firmament bleibt glatt und rein, 
Und stille ist’s, nur laue Lüfte 
Durchschauern noch den alten Hain.
Was seufzt und stöhnt der bleiche Vater?
Ich ahn’s – ein furchtbares Gesicht 
Verscheucht von ihm den leichten Schlummer; 
Er springt vom Rasen auf – er spricht:
OEDIP 
Ich träume einen schweren Traum.
Schwang nicht den Zepter diese Rechte? 
Doch Hoheit lös’ten starke Mächte
Dir auf, o Greis, in nicht’gen Schaum.
Trank ich in schönen Tagen nicht
In meiner grossen Väter Halle,
Beim Heldensang und Hörnerschalle, 
O Helios, dein golden Licht,
Das ich nun nimmer schauen kann?
Zerstörung ruft von allen Seiten: 
„Zum Tode sollst du dich bereiten; 
Dein irdisch Werk ist abgetan.“

Antigone and Oedipus

ANTIGONE 
Ye gods on high,
hear a daughter’s heartfelt entreaty; 
let the cool breath of comfort
waft into my father’s great soul.
This young life is sufficient to assuage 
your anger – take it,
and let your avenging blow
destroy this deeply distressed sufferer.
Humbly I clasp my hands;
the firmament remains serene and clear 
and all is calm; now only mild breezes 
quiver through the ancient grove.
Why does my pallid father sigh and moan? 
I can guess – a terrible vision
drives away his light sleep;
he starts up from the grass and speaks:
OEDIPUS 
I dream a troubled dream.
Did not this right hand wield the sceptre? 
But powerful forces reduced your majesty, 
old man, to mere foam.
In happy days, in the halls of my great fathers 
amid the songs of heroes and the peal of horns, 
did I not drink
your golden light, O Helios,
Which now I can never see again? 
Destruction calls from all sides: 
‘You are to prepare for death; 
your earthly task is done.’

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 Baptist Mayrhofer , was an Austrian poet and librettist. He is best known for his close friendship with the composer Franz Schubert.

Mayrhofer was born in Steyr, educated and Novitiate in St. Florian's Priory Upper Austria. In 1810 he began to study Jurisprudence and Theology at the University of Vienna, both of which courses he finished. In 1814 he met the young composer Franz Schubert and his friends (Joseph von Spaun, Franz von Schober).

Mayrhofer wrote a lot of lyric poetry and published it in 1824.

47 Schubert songs and two of his operas are based on Mayrhofer’s lyric poems.

As a young man Mayrhofer had been hopelessly in love with Mina (Wilhelmina Watteroth), the daughter of Heinrich Watteroth, who was one of Mayrhofer's professors and for a short time also his landlord. In his late years Mayrhofer (like Schubert) fell in love with a young 15-year-old girl, the daughter of his landlord Doctor Strauss. Mayrhofer, who had been a hypochondriac all his life, committed suicide by jumping from the window of his office in Vienna.

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