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Der Reiter und der Bodensee (1840) WoO11 no.1

Der Reiter und der Bodensee

Der Reiter reitet durch’s helle Thal,
Aufs Schneefeld schimmert der Sonne Strahl.
Er trabt im Schweiss durch den kalten Schnee,
Er will noch heut an den Bodensee;
Noch heut mit dem Pferd in den sichern Kahn,
Will drüben landen vor Nacht noch an.
Auf schlimmen Weg über Dorn und Stein,
Er braust auf rüstigem Ross feldein.
Aus den Bergen heraus, ins ebene Land
Da sieht er den Schnee sich dehnen, wie Sand.
Weit hinter ihm schwinden Dorf und Stadt,
Der Weg wird eben, die Bahn wird glatt,
In weiter Fläche kein Bühl noch Haus,
Die Bäume gingen, die Felsen aus.

The horseman and Lake Constance

The horseman rides through the bright valley,
The sun glistens on the fields of snow.
He sweats as he speeds through the cold snow,
He must reach Lake Constance today;
Must board with his horse the safe boat today,
Must land before nightfall on the other shore.
Across fields that are covered with thorns and stones
He thunders along on his hearty steed.
He comes down from the mountains into the plain
And sees the snow stretch out like sand.
Village and town he leaves far behind,
The road becomes flat, the surface smooth,
Neither hill nor house can be seen all around,
The trees have gone, the cliffs have vanished.
Translations by Richard Stokes, author of The Book of Lieder (Faber, 2005)

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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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Gustav Benjamin Schwab was a German writer, pastor and publisher.

Gustav Schwab was born in Stuttgart, the son of a professor and was introduced to the humanities early in life. After attending Gymnasium Illustre, he studied as a scholar of Tübinger Stift at Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen, his first two years studying Philology and Philosophy, and thereafter Theology. While at university he established a literary club and became a close friend of Ludwig Uhland, Karl Varnhagen and Justinus Kerner, with whom he published a collection of poems under the title Deutscher Dichterwald.

In the spring of 1813, he made a journey to northern Germany, where he met Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Schleiermacher, Friedrich Rückert, Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué, Adelbert von Chamisso and others. In 1818 he became a high school teacher in Stuttgart, and in 1837 he started work as a pastor in Gomaringen, near Tübingen. In 1841, he moved back to Stuttgart, where he was first pastor and then from 1845 educational counselor for Stuttgart's high school system. In 1847 he received an honorary Doctorate from his old university.

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