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Songs

Nachschrift (1851) Op. 104 no.8


Part of a series or song cycle:

Sieben Lieder von Elisabeth Kulmann (Op. 104)


Nachschrift

Sie starb, bis zu ihren letzten Minuten schaffend und dichtend, den 19. November 1825 im 17ten Jahre. Zu den Gedichten der letzten Zeit gehört auch jenes merkwürdige „Traumgesicht nach meinem Tode“, in dem sie selbst ihren Tod beschreibt. Es ist vielleicht eines der erhabensten Meisterstücke der Poesie. So schied sie von uns, leicht wie ein Engel, der von einem Ufer zum andern übersetzt, aber in weithinleuchtenden Zügen die Spuren einer himmlischen Erscheinung zurücklassend.

Postscript

She died, writing poetry to the very end, on 19 November 1825, in her seventeenth year. Among her late verse is the remarkable ‘A Vision after my Death’, in which she describes her own death. It is, perhaps, one of the sublimest masterpieces in all poetry. Thus she departed, as airy as an angel passing from one shore to another, but leaving behind her the luminous trail of a heavenly vision, gleaming afar.
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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