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Songs

Songs

Liedesend (1816) D473

Liedesend

Auf seinem gold’nen Throne
Der graue König sitzt –
Er starret in die Sonne,
Die rot im Westen blitzt.
Der Sänger rührt die Harfe,
Sie rauschet Siegessang;
Der Ernst jedoch, der scharfe,
Er trotzt dem vollen Klang.
Nun stimmt er süsse Weisen,
An’s Herz sich klammernd an;
Ob er ihn nicht mit leisen
Versuchen mildern kann.
Vergeblich ist sein Mühen,
Erschöpft des Liedes Reich,
Und auf der Stirne ziehen
Die Sorgen wettergleich.
Der Barde, tief erbittert,
Schlägt die Harf’ entzwei,
Und durch die Lüfte zittert
Der Silbersaiten Schrei.
Doch wie auch alle beben,
Der Herrscher zürnet nicht;
Der Gnade Strahlen schweben
Auf seinem Angesicht.
„Du wolle mich nicht zeihen
Der Unempfindlichkeit;
In lang verblühten Maien
Wie hast du mich erfreut!
„Wie jede Lust gesteigert,
Die aus der Urne fiel!
Was mir ein Gott geweigert,
Erstattete dein Spiel.
„Vom kalten Herzen gleitet
Nun Liedeszauber ab,
Und immer näher schreitet
Nun Vergänglichkeit und Grab.“

Song's End

SONG’S END
Translation © Richard Wigmore
On his golden throne
the grey king sits,
staring into the sun
that glows red in the west.
The minstrel strokes his harp,
a song of victory resounds;
but austere solemnity
defies the swelling tones.
Now he plays sweet tunes
which touch the heart;
to see if he can soothe the king
with gentle strains.
His efforts are in vain,
the realm of song is exhausted,
and, like storm clouds,
cares form upon the king’s brow.
The bard, sorely embittered,
breaks his harp in two,
and through the air vibrates
the cry of the silver strings.
But, though all tremble,
the ruler is not enraged;
the light of mercy
lingers on his countenance.
‘Do not reproach me
with insensitivity;
in months of May long past
how you have gladdened me!
‘How you enhanced every joy
which fell from fate’s urn!
What a god denied me
your playing restored to me.
‘From a cold heart
the magic of song now steals away,
and ever closer step
transience and the grave.’

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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