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Songs

Songs

An den Mond (1849) Op. 95 no.2


Part of a series or song cycle:

Drei Gesänge (Op. 95)


An den Mond

Schlafloser Sonne! melanchol’scher Stern!
Dein tränenvoller Strahl erzittert fern,
Du offenbarst die Nacht, die dir nicht weicht—
O wie du ganz des Glücks Erinn’rung gleichst!
So glänzt auch längst vergangner Tage Licht,
Es scheint, doch wärmt sein schwaches Leuchten nicht,
Der Gram sieht wohl des Sterns Gestalt,
Scharf, aber fern, so klar, doch ach! wie kalt!

To the moon

Sun of the sleepless! melancholy star!
Your tear-stained rays tremble afar,
You revealed the darkness that you cannot dispel—
O how you are the image of remembered bliss!
So gleams the light of distant days now past:
It shines but gives no warmth with its faint gleam;
Sorrow observes the shape of that star,
Distinct but distant, so clear but ah! how cold!
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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Poet

Karl Theodor Körner  was a German poet and soldier. After some time in Vienna, where he wrote some light comedies and other works for the Burgtheater, he became a soldier and joined the Lützow Free Corps in the German uprising against Napoleon. During these times, he displayed personal courage in many fights, and encouraged his comrades by fiery patriotic lyrics he composed, among these being the “Schwertlied" (“Sword Song"), composed during a lull in fighting only a few hours before his death, and “Lützows wilde Jagd" ("Lützow's Wild Chase"), each set to music by both Carl Maria von Weber and Franz Schubert. He was often called the “German Tyrtaeus.

He was born at Dresden, capital of the Saxon electorate, the son of the consistorial councillor Christian Gottfried Körner and his wife Minna Stock Körner. He was raised by his parents and by his aunt, the artist Dora Stock, who lived in the home. He attended the Kreuzschule.

After his education, he chose mining as an occupation. He moved to Vienna, where he befriended Wilhelm von Humboldt, the Prussian ambassador, Karl Wilhelm Friedrich von Schlegel, and other eminent literary and scientific men. Here, within the short space of fifteen months, he produced a succession of dramas, operas, and farces, as well as several small poems. The success of his works obtained him the appointment of poet to the court at the Vienna Burgtheater. It was in this period of his life that he became betrothed to the popular actress Antonie Adamberger.

During the War of the Sixth Coalition, he left Vienna in March 1813, and together with Friedrich Friesen and Friedrich Ludwig Jahn joined the Lützow Free Corps, a voluntary paramilitary association which Ludwig Adolf Wilhelm von Lützow was then forming in Breslau, Silesia. In the midst of the most active campaigns, Körner continued to write poetry and other works. He wrote a singspiel, Der vierjährige Posten, which was set to music by Franz Schubert in 1815, but the piece was not performed until 1869, when it was staged at the Hofoper, Dresden. It was later adapted in English as The Outpost.

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George Gordon Byron (later Noel), 6th Baron Byron, FRS , commonly known simply as Lord Byron, was an English poet and a leading figure in the Romantic movement. Among his best-known works are the lengthy narrative poems Don Juan and Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, and the short lyric "She Walks in Beauty".

Byron is regarded as one of the greatest British poets, and remains widely read and influential. He travelled widely across Europe, especially in Italy where he lived for seven years. Later in life, Byron joined the Greek War of Independence fighting the Ottoman Empire, for which many Greeks revere him as a national hero. He died in 1824 at the young age of 36 from a fever contracted while in Missolonghi. Often described as the most flamboyant and notorious of the major Romantics, Byron was both celebrated and castigated in life for his aristocratic excesses, including huge debts, numerous love affairs - with men as well as women, as well as rumours of a scandalous liaison with his half-sister - and self-imposed exile.

He also fathered Ada, Countess of Lovelace, whose work on Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine is considered a founding document in the field of computer science, and Allegra Byron, who died in childhood — as well as, possibly, Elizabeth Medora Leigh out of wedlock.

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