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Frühlingsfahrt (1840) Op. 45 no.2


Part of a series or song cycle:

Romanzen und Balladen, i (Op. 45)


Frühlingsfahrt

Es zogen zwei rüst’ge Gesellen
Zum erstenmal von Haus,
So jubelnd recht in die hellen,
Klingenden, singenden Wellen
Des vollen Frühlings hinaus.
Die strebten nach hohen Dingen,
Die wollten, trotz Lust und Schmerz,
Was Recht’s in der Welt vollbringen,
Und wem sie vorüber gingen,
Dem lachten Sinnen und Herz.
Der erste, der fand ein Liebchen,
Die Schwieger kauft’ Hof und Haus;
Der wiegte gar bald ein Bübchen,
Und sah aus heimlichem Stübchen
Behaglich ins Feld hinaus.
Dem zweiten sangen und logen
Die tausend Stimmen im Grund,
Verlockend’ Sirenen, und zogen
Ihn in die buhlenden Wogen,
In der Wogen farbigen Schlund.
Und wie er auftaucht’ vom Schlunde,
Da war er müde und alt,
Sein Schifflein das lag im Grunde,
So still war’s rings in der Runde,
Und über dem Wasser weht’s kalt.
Es klingen und singen die Wellen
Des Frühlings wohl über mir;
Und seh’ ich so kecke Gesellen,
Die Tränen im Auge mir schwellen—
Ach, Gott, führ’ uns liebreich zu Dir!

A Spring Journey

Two sturdy lads set out
From home for the first time,
Exultantly into the bright,
Sounding and singing waves
Of springtime at its height.
They strove for lofty things,
Desired, despite joy and pain,
To achieve something in the world,
And those they passed on their way
Were happy in heart and mind.
The first, he found a loved one;
Her family bought them house and home.
Soon he was rocking a baby boy,
And gazing from a homely room,
At ease into his field.
The second was sung and lied to
By a thousand voices from the deep—
Enticing sirens, who drew him
Into the amorous waves,
The oceans’ colourful deep.
And when he surfaced from the deep,
He was weary and old,
His vessel lay on the sea bed,
Such silence reigned around him,
And the wind blew cold above the waves.
The waves of spring are singing
And sounding above me now;
And when I see such bold lads,
Tears come welling to my eyes—
Ah, guide us, God, lovingly to Thee!
Translations by Richard Stokes, author of The Book of Lieder (Faber, 2005)

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Composer

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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Poet

Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff was a German poet, novelist, playwright, literary critic, translator, and anthologist. Eichendorff was one of the major writers and critics of Romanticism. Ever since their publication and up to the present day, some of his works have been very popular in Germany.

Eichendorff first became famous for his novella Aus dem Leben eines Taugenichts (Memoirs of a Good-For-Nothing) and his poems. The Memoirs of a Good-For-Nothing, a typical romantic novella, whose main themes are wanderlust and love. The protagonist, the son of a miller, rejects his father's trade and becomes a gardener at a Viennese palace where he subsequently falls in love with the local duke's daughter. As, with his lowly status, she is unattainable for him, he escapes to Italy - only to return and learn that she is the duke's adopted daughter, and thus within his social reach. With its combination of dream world and realism, Memoirs of a Good-For-Nothing is considered to be a high point of Romantic fiction. One critic stated that "Eichendorff’s 'Good-For-Nothing' is the "personification of love of nature and an obsession with hiking." Thomas Mann called Eichendorff's Good-For-Nothing a combination of "the purity of the folk song and the fairy tale."

Many of Eichendorff's poems were first published as integral parts of his novellas and stories, where they are often performed in song by one of the protagonists. The novella Good-For-Nothing alone contains 54 poems.

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