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Songs

Songs

Einsamkeit (1850) Op.90 no.5


Part of a series or song cycle:

Sechs Gedichte und Requiem (Op.90)


Einsamkeit

Wild verwachs’ne dunkle Fichten,
Leise klagt die Quelle fort;
Herz, das ist der rechte Ort
Für dein schmerzliches Verzichten!
Grauer Vogel in den Zweigen,
Einsam deine Klage singt,
Und auf deine Frage bringt
Antwort nicht des Waldes Schweigen.
Wenn’s auch immer Schweigen bliebe,
Klage, klage fort; es weht,
Der dich höret und versteht,
Stille hier der Geist der Liebe.
Nicht verloren hier im Moose,
Herz, dein heimlich Weinen geht,
Deine Liebe Gott versteht,
Deine tiefe, hoffnungslose!

Solitude

A wild tangle of dark spruce,
The fountain's soft and ceaseless lament;
Heart, this is a fitting place
For your painful renunciation!
A grey bird alone in the branches
Sings of your sorrow,
And to your questioning
The silent forest brings no reply.
Even if silence reigned forever,
Continue, continue your lament;
The spring of love blows silently here,
It hears and understands you.
Heart, your secret weeping
Is not lost here amongst the moss.
God understands your love,
Your deep and hopeless love!
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

Nikolaus Lenau was the nom de plume of Nikolaus Franz Niembsch Edler von Strehlenau, a German-language Austrian poet.

He was born at Schadat, now Lenauheim, Romania, then in Hungary. His father, a Habsburg government official, died in 1807 in Budapest, leaving his children in the care of their mother, who remarried in 1811. In 1819 Nikolaus went to the University of Vienna; he subsequently studied Hungarian law at Pozsony (Bratislava) and then spent the next four years qualifying himself in medicine. Unable to settle down to any profession, he began writing verse. The disposition to sentimental melancholy inherited from his mother, stimulated by disappointments in love and by the prevailing fashion of the romantic school of poetry, descended into gloom after his mother's death in 1829.

Soon afterwards, however, a legacy from his grandmother enabled him to devote himself wholly to poetry. His first published poems appeared in 1827, in Johann Gabriel Seidl's Aurora. In 1831 he moved to Stuttgart, where he published a volume of Gedichte (1832) dedicated to the Swabian poet, Gustav Schwab. He also made the acquaintance of Ludwig Uhland, Justinus Kerner, Karl Mayer and others. His restless spirit longed for change, and he determined to seek peace and freedom in America.

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