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Wenn ich ein Vöglein wär (1840) Op. 43 no.1

Part of a series or song cycle:

Drei Duette (Op. 43)

Wenn ich ein Vöglein wär

Wenn ich ein Vöglein wär’
Und auch zwei Flüglein hätt’,
Flög’ ich zu dir!
Weil’s aber nicht kann sein,
Bleib’ ich allhier.
Bin ich gleich weit von dir,
Bin ich doch im Schlaf bei dir,
Und red’ mit dir!
Wenn ich erwachen thu
Bin ich allein.
Es vergeht kein’ Stund’ in der Nacht,
Da mein Herze nicht erwacht,
Und an dich gedenkt,
Dass du mir viel tausendmal
Dein Herz geschenkt.

If I were a little bird

If I were a little bird,
And had two little wings,
I’d fly to you!
But since it cannot be,
I shall stay right here.
Though I am far from you,
I’m with you as I sleep,
And I speak with you!
On awakening
I am alone.
Not an hour of night goes by
Without my heart awakening
And thinking how you
A thousand times
Have given me your heart.
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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