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Das Heimweh (1816) D456

Das Heimweh

Oft in einsam stillen Stunden
Hab’ ich ein Gefühl empfunden,
Unerklärbar, wunderbar!
Das wie Sehnsucht nach der Ferne
Hoch hinauf in bess’re Sterne,
Wie ein leises Ahnen war.
Jetzt, wo von der Heimat Frieden
Ich so lang’ schon abgeschieden,
Und in weiter Fremde bin,
Fühlt ein ängstlich heisses Sehnen
Unter sanften Wehmutstränen
Tief bewegt mein innrer Sinn.
Wenn in Stunden sel’ger Weihe
Sich der frühern Wonnen Reihe
Dunkel wär’ mein Geist bewusst,
Wenn sich neue Sinne fänden,
Die das Höhere verständen
In der tiefbewegten Brust!

Longing for Home

Often, in quiet, solitary hours,
I have experienced a feeling,
inexplicable, marvellous,
like a yearning for the far distance,
high above, on a better star,
like a soft presentiment.
Now, in a distant foreign land,
having left so long ago
the peace of my homeland,
I feel a fearful, burning longing
beneath tears of gentle sadness
deep in my troubled heart.
If only, in hours of blissful solemnity,
my spirit could dimly experience
my former joys in turn;
if only I could discover new senses
which might divine the higher Truth
in my sorely troubled heart!

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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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Theodor Hell ("Theodore Bright") was the pseudonym of Karl Gottfried Theodor Winkler, a court councillor (Hofrath) in Dresden from 1824, who was the centre of literary life through his work as editor, translator and critic. He was the theatrical secretary from 1815.

He is mostly remembered for his friendships with the composers Carl Maria von Weber and Giacomo Meyerbeer (and brief contact with Franz Schubert and Richard Wagner) — for example, he wrote the words to Schubert's "Das Heimweh" (D456) and the libretto for Weber's opera Die Drei Pintos. He was the editor for many years of the literary magazine Penelope, and of the Dresdner Abendzeitung (from 1817 to 1843) in association with Friedrich Kind. Dresden appointed him honorary citizen in 1851.

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