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Memnon (1871) D541


Den Tag hindurch nur einmal mag ich sprechen,
Gewohnt zu schweigen immer und zu trauern:
Wenn durch die nachtgebor’nen Nebelmauern
Aurorens Purpurstrahlen liebend brechen.
Für Menschenohren sind es Harmonien.
Weil ich die Klage selbst melodisch künde
Und durch der Dichtung Glut des Rauhe ründe,
Vermuten sie in mir ein selig Blühen.
In mir, nach dem des Todes Arme langen,
In dessen tiefstem Herzen Schlangen wühlen;
Genährt von meinen schmerzlichen
Gefühlen Fast wütend durch ein ungestillt Verlangen:
Mit dir, des Morgens Göttin, mich zu einen,
Und weit von diesem nichtigen Getriebe,
Aus Sphären edler Freiheit, aus Sphären reiner Liebe,
Ein stiller, bleicher Stern herab zu scheinen.


Constant silence and grieving are my won’t;
the whole day long I may speak but once:
when Aurora’s tender crimson rays
break through the night-begotten walls of mist.
To men’s ears this is music.
Since I proclaim my very grief in song,
and transfigure its harshness in the fire of poetry,
they imagine that joy flowers within me.
Within me, to whom the arms of death stretch out,
as serpents writhe deep in my heart;
I am nourished by my anguished thoughts,
and almost frenzied with unquiet longing.
Oh to be united with you, goddess of morning,
and, far from this vain bustle,
to shine down as a pale, silent star
from spheres of noble freedom and pure love.

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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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