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Herzeleid (1851) Op. 107 no.1

Part of a series or song cycle:

Sechs Gesänge (Op. 107)


Die Weiden lassen matt die Zweige hangen,
Und traurig ziehn die Wasser hin:
Sie schaute starr hinab mit bleichen Wangen,
Die unglückselge Träumerin.
Und ihr entfiel ein Strauss von Immortellen,
Er war so schwer von Tränen ja,
Und leise warnend lispelten die Wellen:
Ophelia, Ophelia!


The willows trail their weary branches,
And the waters drift sadly by.
The poor white-faced wretch
Stared blindly down in a dream.
And she let fall a wreath of everlasting flowers,
Already heavy with tears,
While the waves whispered in soft warning—
‘Ophelia, Ophelia!’
Translation by Eric Sams

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Robert Schumann was a German composer and influential music critic. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest composers of the Romantic era. Schumann left the study of law, intending to pursue a career as a virtuoso pianist. He had been assured by his teacher Friedrich Wieck that he could become the finest pianist in Europe, but a hand injury ended this dream. Schumann then focused his musical energies on composing.

Schumann's published compositions were written exclusively for the piano until 1840; he later composed works for piano and orchestra; many Lieder (songs for voice and piano); four symphonies; an opera; and other orchestral, choral, and chamber works. Works such as KinderszenenAlbum für die JugendBlumenstück, the Sonatas and Albumblätter are among his most famous. His writings about music appeared mostly in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik (New Journal for Music), a Leipzig-based publication which he jointly founded.

In 1840, Schumann married Friedrich Wieck's daughter Clara, against the wishes of her father, following a long and acrimonious legal battle, which found in favor of Clara and Robert. Clara also composed music and had a considerable concert career as a pianist, the earnings from which formed a substantial part of her father's fortune.

Schumann suffered from a lifelong mental disorder, first manifesting itself in 1833 as a severe melancholic depressive episode, which recurred several times alternating with phases of ‘exaltation’ and increasingly also delusional ideas of being poisoned or threatened with metallic items. After a suicide attempt in 1854, Schumann was admitted to amental asylum, at his own request, in Endenich near Bonn. Diagnosed with "psychotic melancholia", Schumann died two years later in 1856 without having recovered from his mental illness.

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Titus Ullrich was a German poet, dramatist, art critic and literary critic from the County of Kladsko. Some of his songs were set by Robert Schumann.

The son of a farmer and grandson of the Mayor of Habelschwerdt (now Bystrzyca Kłodzka), he was born in the Hallmannschen Haus, Ring no. 7, where his mother had taken refuge during the disorder of the war. Raised by his grandfather, he entered the Glatzer Gymnasium in 1825, and proceeded in 1832 to Breslau to study philosophy and classics, continuing his studies in Berlin one year later. He earnt his doctorate in 1836.

The death of his father thwarted his plan of a habilitation, and he took employment as a private tutor in Berlin. His first works, Das Hohe Lied and Viktor, were published in 1845 and 1847 and attracted a cult following. These ambitious philosophical epics championed the ideas of Ludwig Feuerbach. In 1848 he improved his financial position by taking a job as a columnist at the National-Zeitung, where he remained until 1860. He was one of the founders of the Rütli literary group. In 1854 he travelled to Italy, and in 1857 he was able to visit the major art exhibition in Manchester, taking the opportunity to explore England and Scotland, and, on the way home, Belgium and Paris. His observations were published in the National-Zeitung and were collected after his death as Reisestudien (1893).

Towards the end of 1860 he was appointed privy secretary in the offices of the General Intendant of the Royal Theatre. He was later promoted to Privy Counsellor to the King, and then commissary. He continued to publish poetry but later regretted that he had not devoted more effort to his creative writing. His marriage to Emilie Ribbeck was happy and his life generally uneventful. He went into retirement in 1887, and died in Berlin in 1891.

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