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Bertas Lied in der Nacht (1819) D653

Bertas Lied in der Nacht

Nacht umhüllt
Mit wehendem Flügel 
Täler und Hügel 
Ladend zur Ruh’.
Und dem Schlummer 
Dem lieblichen Kinde, 
Leise und linde 
Flüstert sie zu:
„Weisst du ein Auge, 
Wachend im Kummer, 
Lieblicher Schlummer, 
Drücke mir’s zu!“
Fühlst du sein Nahen?
Ahnest du Ruh?
Alles deckt der Schlummer, 
Schlumm’re du, schlumm’re auch du. 

Bertha's Nocturnal Song

With fluttering wings 
night envelops
alley and hill, 
bidding them rest.
And to Sleep, 
that sweet child, 
she whispers 
softly and gently:
‘If you know of an eye 
that stays awake, grieving, 
sweet Sleep,
close it for me!’
Do you feel him draw near?
Do you have a presentiment of peace? 
Sleep makes all things well;
then sleep also.

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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.

Information from Wikipedia. Read more here.


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Poet

Franz Grillparzer was one of Schubert's most famous and celebrated contemporaries. His plays still hold the stage, particularly in his native Austria. Like Schubert, he was born in Vienna, but unlike the composer he moved in a milieu of well-connected aristocratic privilege. Despite his work in the Court Library Service he was never a great favourite with the Establishment, and was capable of enraging the powers-that-were with his writings. His relationships with women were turbulent and manifold, but the most important of them was his lifelong friendship (never quite extended to marriage) with Kathi Fröhlich, sister of Anna and 'Pepi' who feature strongly in Schubert's story. Grillparzer was quite a close friend of Beethoven (the reason that Fischer-Dieskau puts forward for Schubert's wariness in his relationship with the poet) and provided him with Melusina as a libretto. Although primarily known as a man of the theatre, Grillparzer wrote a number of Novellen, as well as a good deal of poetry. He had a long and distinguished life; he was in contact with almost every important German man of letters, and he was widely travelled and much honoured. He wrote the somewhat controversial epigram on Schubert's tombstone 'The art of music here entombed a rich possession, but even fairer hopes'. Although well-meant, this facile phrase suggests a lack of inside knowledge of the composer's output, but it was, after all, a viewpoint shared even by those who knew Schubert better. He also wrote the oration read at Beethoven's funeral on 29 March 1827.

Three of Grillparzer's poems were set by Schubert: Bertas Lied in der Nacht (D653), Mirjams Siegesgesang (D942) and Ständchen (D920).

Taken from Hyperion, from notes by Graham Johnson. To view the full article, please click here.


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