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Auf der Donau (1817) D553

Auf der Donau

Auf der Wellen Spiegel schwimmt der Kahn, 
Alte Burgen ragen himmelan, 
Tannenwälder rauschen geistergleich,
Und das Herz im Busen wird uns weich.
Denn der Menschen Werke sinken all’, 
Wo ist Turm, wo Pforte, wo der Wall,
Wo sie selbst, die Starken, erzgeschirmt, 
Die in Krieg und Jagden hingestürmt?
Trauriges Gestrüppe wuchert fort, 
Während frommer Sage Kraft verdorrt: 
Und im kleinen Kahne wird uns bang, 
Wellen drohn wie Zeiten Untergang.

On the Danube

The boat glides on the mirror of the waves; 
old castles soar heavenwards,
pine forests stir like ghosts,
and our hearts grow faint within our breasts.
For the works of man all perish;
where now is the tower, the gate, the rampart? 
Where are the mighty themselves, in their bronze 
armour, who stormed forth to battle and the chase?
Mournful brushwood grows rampant 
while the power of pious myth fades. 
And in our little boat we grow afraid; 
waves, like time, threaten doom.

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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 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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