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Familien-Gemälde (1840) Op. 34 no.4

Part of a series or song cycle:

Vier Duette (Op. 34)


Grossvater und Grossmutter,
Die sassen im Gartenhag,
Es lächelte still ihr Antlitz
Wie’n sonn’ger Wintertag.
Die Arme verschlungen, ruhten
Ich und die Geliebte dabei,
Uns blühten und klangen die Herzen
Wie Blumenhaine im Mai.
Ein Bächlein rauschte vorüber
Mit plätscherndem Wanderlied;
Stumm zog das Gewölk am Himmel
Bis unsern Blicken es schied.
Es rasselte von den Bäumen
Das Laub, verwelkt und zerstreut,
Und schweigend an uns vorüber
Zog leisen Schrittes die Zeit.
Stumm blickte aufs junge Pärchen
Das alte stille Paar;
Des Lebens Doppelspiegel
Stand vor uns licht und wahr:
Sie sahn uns an und dachten
Der schönen Vergangenheit;
Wir sahn sie an und träumten
Von ferner, künftiger Zeit.

Family portrait

Grandpapa and grandmama,
They sat out in the garden,
Quietly smiling,
Like a sunny winter’s day.
By their side my love and I
Embraced each other tightly,
Our hearts burgeoned and rang
Like flowery groves in May.
A brooklet flowed murmuring by,
Babbling as it went;
The clouds gathered silently above
Until they scudded out of sight.
The leaves rustled loudly, as they scattered
Falling and withered from the trees,
And Time passed by us
With silent tread.
The old couple watched the young pair
Without a single word.
There before us, clear and true,
Stood life’s double reflection.
They looked at us and thought
Of their happy past.
We looked at them and thought
Of distant days to come.
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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He was born in Laibach (Ljubljana), and was head of the Thurn am Hart/Krain branch of the Carniolan cadet line of the house of Auersperg. He received his education first at the University of Graz and then at Vienna, where he studied jurisprudence. In Vienna, he met with fellow Carniolan countryman France Prešeren, who would later become the national poet of the Slovenes. The two established a close friendship which lasted till Prešeren's death in 1849. Prešeren also dedicated an ironic short poem to Auersperg, called Tri želje Anastazija Zelenca ("Three Wishes of the Green Anastasius"), in which he made fun of the friend's bohemian lifestyle.

In 1830, Auersperg succeeded to his ancestral property, and in 1832 appeared as a member at the Estates of Carniola in the Lords' Bench of the diet in Laibach. Here he distinguished himself by his outspoken criticism of the Austrian government, leading the opposition of the duchy to the exactions of the central power. In 1832 the title of Imperial Chamberlain was conferred upon him, and in 1839 he married Maria, daughter of Count Attems.

After the Revolution of 1848 in Vienna he represented the district of Laibach in the German Frankfurt Parliament, to which he tried in vain to persuade his Slovene compatriots to send representatives. After a few months, however, disgusted with the violent development of the revolution, he resigned his seat, and again retired into private life. In 1860 he was summoned to the remodelled Reichsrat by the emperor, and next year nominated him a life member of the Austrian upper house (Herrenhaus), where, while remaining a keen upholder of the German centralized empire, as against the federalism the Slavs and Magyars, he greatly distinguished himself as one of the most intrepid and influential supporters of the cause of Realism, in both political and religious matters. He also served in the Diet of Carniola, where he was among the leaders of the Austrian Constitutionalists in Carniola, together with Karl Deschmann.

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