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Geheimnis ‘An Franz Schubert’ (1816) D491

Geheimnis ‘An Franz Schubert’

Sag an, wer lehrt dich Lieder,
So schmeichelnd und so zart?
Sie zauben einen Himmel
Aus trüber Gegenwart.
Erst lag das Land verschleiert
Im Nebel vor uns da –
Du singst – und Sonnen leuchten,
Und Frühling ist uns nah.
Den schilfbekränzten Alten,
Der seine Urne giesst,
Erblickst du nicht, nur Wasser,
Wie’s durch die Wiesen fliesst.
So geht es auch dem Sänger,
Er singt, er staunt in sich;
Was still ein Gott bereitet,
Befremdet ihn wie dich.

Secret 'To Franz Schubert'

Tell us, who teaches you
such tender, flattering songs?
They evoke a heaven
from these cheerless times.
First the land lay veiled
in mist before us –
then you sing, and the sun shines,
and spring is near.
You do not see
the old man, crowned with reeds,
emptying his urn;
you see only water flowing through the meadows.
So too it is with the singer.
He sings, he marvels inwardly;
he wonders, as you do,
at God’s silent creation.
Translations by Richard Wigmore first published by Gollancz and reprinted in the Hyperion Schubert Song Edition

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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.

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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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