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Käuzlein (1849) Op. 79 no.10

Part of a series or song cycle:

Lieder-Album für die Jugend (Op. 79)


Ich armes Käuzlein!
Wo soll ich fliegen aus,
Bei Nacht so gar alleine,
Bringt mir so manchen Graus
Das macht der Eulen Ungestalt
Ihr Trauern mannigfalt.
Ich armes Käuzlein!
Ich wills Gefieder schwingen,
Gen Holz in grünen Wald,
Die Vöglein hören singen,
In mancherlei Gestalt.
Vor allen lieb’ ich Nachtigall,
Vor allen liebt’ mich Nachtigall.
Ich armes Käuzlein!
Die Kinder unten glauben,
Ich deute Böses an,
Sie wollen mich vertreiben
Dass ich nicht schreien kann:
Wenn ich was deute tut’s mir leid,
Und was ich schrei’ ist keine Freud’,
Ich armes Käuzlein!
Mein Ast ist mir entwichen,
Darauf ich ruhen sollt’,
Sein Blättlein all’ verblichen,
Frau Nachtigall geholt:
Das schafft der Eulen falsche Tück,
Die störet all mein Glück,
Ich armes Käuzlein!


Poor little owl that I am,
Where shall I fly,
Being so alone at night
Makes me so afraid:
That’s because of that monster owl,
The cause of my great grief,
Poor little owl that I am!
I’ll fly off
To another green wood,
To hear all kinds
Of little birds sing.
I love the nightingale best of all,
The nightingale loves me best of all,
Poor little owl that I am!
The children down there
Believe I bring bad luck,
They want to drive me away,
So as not to hear me hoot:
I’m sorry if I’m an ill-omen,
And if my hooting brings no joy,
Poor little owl that I am!
The branch has withered
Where I’d planned to nest,
All its little leaves have faded,
And Mistress Nightingale has gone:
That’s because of that treacherous owl,
It ruins all my happiness,
Poor little owl that I am!
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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