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Songs

Der Bräutigam und die Birke (1851) Op.119 no.3


Part of a series or song cycle:

Drei Gedichte (Op.119)


Der Bräutigam und die Birke

Birke, des Waldes Zier,
Will Hochzeit machen,
Brauch viele Sachen,
Was schenkst du mir?
„Ich schenke dir einen grünen Strauss,
Den trägst du bei deinem Hochzeitsschmaus.“
Der grüne Strauss gefällt mir sehr
Birke, was schenkst du mir noch mehr?
„Ich schenke dir eine Rute,
Die kommt deinen Kindern zugute.“
Die schwanke Rute gefällt mir sehr;
Birke, was schenkst du mir noch mehr?
„Ich schenke dir einen Besen rauh,
Den führt mit Fleiß die junge Frau.“
Der rauhe Besen gefällt mir sehr;
Birke, was schenkst du mir noch mehr?
„Ich schenke dir einen Peitschenstiel,
Den schwingst du über den Rossen viel.“
Der Peitschenstiel gefällt mir sehr;
Birke, was schenkst du mir noch mehr?
„Ich schenk dir auch den Wein dazu;
Laß träufeln mein Blut, so hast du Ruh.“
Der Birkensaft gefällt mir sehr;
Birke, was schenkst du mir noch mehr?
„Ich hab nun alles gegeben dir,
Es bleibt nur noch das nackte Leben mir.“
Birke, so lebst du dir selbst zur Pein;
Will Hochzeit machen,
Brauch viele Sachen,
Komm mit und heize mein Kämmerlein!

The bridegroom and the birch tree

Birch tree, beauty of the woods,
I am to marry,
I need many things,
What will you give me?
‘I’ll give you a green bouquet,
For you to carry at the wedding feast.’
The green bouquet pleases me very well,
Birch tree, what else will you give me?
‘I’ll give you a birch,
For the benefit of your children!’
The slender birch pleases me very well;
Birch tree, what else will you give me?
‘I’ll give you a sturdy broom
For your young wife to sweep with.’
The sturdy broom pleases me very well;
Birch tree, what else will you give me?
‘I’ll give you a whip-stick
To use on the backs of many horses.’
The whip-stick pleases me very well;
Birch tree, what else will you give me?
‘I’ll give you wine as well;
Let my sap run, and you’ll be happy.’
The birch-sap pleases me very well;
Birch tree, what else will you give me?
‘I’ve given you now all I possess,
All I have left is my very life.’
In which case, birch tree, your life’s a burden;
I am to marry,
I need many things,
Come with me and heat my little room!
Translations by Richard Stokes, author of The Book of Lieder (Faber, 2005)

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

August Konrad Gustav Pfarrius (31 December 1800 – 15 August 1884) was a German poet and teacher, celebrated as the „Sänger des Nahetals“ after his homeland on the left bank of the Rhine.

Born in Hedessheim near Bad Kreuznach, he interrupted theological studies in Halle and moved to Bonn to take up Latin, French and history with Ernst Moritz Arndt, becoming acquainted with Hoffmann von Fallersleben, Karl Simrock and Heinrich Heine. Appointments to teaching positions took him to Saarbrücken (1823) and Köln (1834): in 1858 he built a villa, Haus Herresberg, near Remagen.

He is remembered in the English-speaking world for three songs set by Robert Schumann as Opus 119.

Taken from Wikipedia. To view the full article, please click here.


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