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Songs

Orest auf Tauris (1817) D548

Orest auf Tauris

Ist dies Tauris, wo der Eumeniden
Wut zu stillen Pythia versprach?
Weh! die Schwestern mit den Schlangenhaaren
Folgen mir vom Land der Griechen nach.
Rauhes Eiland, kündest keinen Segen:
Nirgends sprosst der Ceres milde Frucht;
Keine Reben blüh’n, der Lüfte Sänger,
Wie die Schiffe, meiden diese Bucht.
Steine fügt die Kunst nicht zu Gebäuden,
Zelte spannt des Skythen Armut sich;
Unter starren Felsen, rauhen Wäldern
Ist das Leben einsam, schauerlich!
„Und hier soll,“ so ist ja doch ergangen
An den Flehenden der heilige Spruch,
„Eine hohe Priesterin Dianens
Lösen meinen und der Väter Fluch.“

Orestes on Tauris

Is this Tauris, where Pythia promised
to appease the anger of the Eumenides?
Alas, the snake-haired sisters
pursue me from the land of the Greeks.
Bleak island, you announce no blessing:
nowhere does Ceres’ tender fruit grow;
no vines bloom; the singers of the air,
like the ships, shun this bay.
Art does not fashion these stones into buildings;
in their poverty the Scythians erect only tents.
Amid harsh rocks and wild forests
life is lonely and frightening.
‘And here,’ according to the sacred decree
revealed to the suppliant,
‘a high priestess of Diana
is to lift the curse on me and my fathers.’

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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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