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Ständchen (1827) D920

Ständchen

Zögernd leise
In des Dunkels nächt’ger Hülle
Sind wir hier;
Und den Finger sanft gekrümmt,
Leise, leise,
Pochen wir
An des Liebchens Kammerthür.
Doch nun steigend,
Schwellend, schwellend, hebend,
Mit vereinter Stimme, Laut
Rufen aus wir hochvertraut:
Schlaf du nicht,
Wenn der Neigung Stimme spricht!
Sucht’ ein Weiser nah und ferne
Menschen einst mit der Laterne;
Wieviel seltner dann als Gold
Menschen, uns geneigt und hold?
Drum, wenn Freundschaft, Liebe spricht,
Freundin, Liebchen, schlaf du nicht!
Aber was in allen Reichen
Wär’ dem Schlummer zu vergleichen?
Drum statt Worten und statt Gaben
Sollst du nun auch Ruhe haben.
Noch ein Grüsschen, noch ein Wort,
Es verstummt dir frohe Weise,
Leise, leise,
Schleichen wir, ja, schleichen wir uns wieder fort!

Ständchen

Softly, hesitantly,
cloaked in night’s darkness,
we have come here;
and with fingers gently curled,
softly, softly
we knock
on the beloved’s bedroom door.
But now, our emotion rising,
swelling,
surging, with united voice
we call out loud, in warm friendship:
‘Do not sleep
when the voice of affection speaks.’
Once a wise man with his lantern
sought people near and far;
how much rarer, then, than gold
are people who are fondly disposed to us?
And so, when friendship and love speak,
do not sleep, friend, beloved!
But what in all the world’s realms
can be compared to sleep?
And so, instead of words and gifts,
you shall now have rest.
Just one more greeting, one more word,
and our happy song ceases;
softly, softly
we steal away again.
Translations by Richard Wigmore first published by Gollancz and reprinted in the Hyperion Schubert Song Edition

Poet

Franz Grillparzer was one of Schubert's most famous and celebrated contemporaries. His plays still hold the stage, particularly in his native Austria. Like Schubert, he was born in Vienna, but unlike the composer he moved in a milieu of well-connected aristocratic privilege. Despite his work in the Court Library Service he was never a great favourite with the Establishment, and was capable of enraging the powers-that-were with his writings. His relationships with women were turbulent and manifold, but the most important of them was his lifelong friendship (never quite extended to marriage) with Kathi Fröhlich, sister of Anna and 'Pepi' who feature strongly in Schubert's story. Grillparzer was quite a close friend of Beethoven (the reason that Fischer-Dieskau puts forward for Schubert's wariness in his relationship with the poet) and provided him with Melusina as a libretto. Although primarily known as a man of the theatre, Grillparzer wrote a number of Novellen, as well as a good deal of poetry. He had a long and distinguished life; he was in contact with almost every important German man of letters, and he was widely travelled and much honoured. He wrote the somewhat controversial epigram on Schubert's tombstone 'The art of music here entombed a rich possession, but even fairer hopes'. Although well-meant, this facile phrase suggests a lack of inside knowledge of the composer's output, but it was, after all, a viewpoint shared even by those who knew Schubert better. He also wrote the oration read at Beethoven's funeral on 29 March 1827.

Three of Grillparzer's poems were set by Schubert: Bertas Lied in der Nacht (D653), Mirjams Siegesgesang (D942) and Ständchen (D920).

Taken from Hyperion, from notes by Graham Johnson. To view the full article, please click here.


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