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Freiwilliges Versinken (1820) D700

Freiwilliges Versinken

Wohin, o Helios? In kühlen Fluten
Will ich den Flammenleib versenken,
Gewiss im Innern, neue Gluten
Der Erde Feuerreich zu schenken.
Ich nehme nicht, ich pflege nur zu geben;
Und wie verschwenderisch mein Leben,
Umhüllt mein Scheiden gold’ne Pracht,
Ich scheide herrlich, naht die Nacht.
Wie blass der Mond, wie matt die Sterne!
Solang ich kräftig mich bewege;
Erst wenn ich auf die Berge meine Krone lege,
Gewinnen sie an Mut und Kraft in weiter Ferne.

Voluntary Oblivion

Whither, O Helios? In cool waters
I will immerse my burning body,
inwardly certain that I can bestow
new warmth upon the earth’s fires.
I do not take; I am wont only to give.
As prodigal as my life,
my parting is bathed in golden splendour;
I depart in glory when night draws near.
How pale the moon, how faint the stars,
as long as I move on my powerful course;
only when I lay down my crown upon the mountains do they
gain strength and courage in the far distance.
Translations by Richard Wigmore first published by Gollancz and reprinted in the Hyperion Schubert Song Edition

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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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