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Songs

Songs

Zwielicht (1840) Op.39 no.10


Part of a series or song cycle:

Liederkreis (Op.39)


Zwielicht

Dämmrung will die Flügel spreiten,
Schaurig rühren sich die Bäume,
Wolken ziehn wie schwere Träume—
Was will dieses Graun bedeuten?
Hast ein Reh du lieb vor andern,
Laß es nicht alleine grasen,
Jäger ziehn im Wald und blasen,
Stimmen hin und wieder wandern.
Hast du einen Freund hienieden,
Trau ihm nicht zu dieser Stunde,
Freundlich wohl mit Aug’ und Munde,
Sinnt er Krieg im tück’schen Frieden.
Was heut gehet müde unter,
Hebt sich morgen neugeboren.
Manches geht in Nacht verloren—
Hüte dich, sei wach und munter!

Twilight

Dusk is about to spread its wings,
The trees now shudder and stir,
Clouds drift by like oppressive dreams—
What can this dusk and dread imply?
If you have a fawn you favour,
Do not let her graze alone,
Hunters sound their horns through the forest,
Voices wander to and fro.
If here on earth you have a friend,
Do not trust him at this hour,
Though his eyes and lips be smiling,
In treacherous peace he’s scheming war.
That which wearily sets today,
Will rise tomorrow, newly born.
Much can go lost in the night—
Be wary, watchful, on your guard!
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

Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff was a German poet, novelist, playwright, literary critic, translator, and anthologist. Eichendorff was one of the major writers and critics of Romanticism. Ever since their publication and up to the present day, some of his works have been very popular in Germany.

Eichendorff first became famous for his novella Aus dem Leben eines Taugenichts (Memoirs of a Good-For-Nothing) and his poems. The Memoirs of a Good-For-Nothing, a typical romantic novella, whose main themes are wanderlust and love. The protagonist, the son of a miller, rejects his father's trade and becomes a gardener at a Viennese palace where he subsequently falls in love with the local duke's daughter. As, with his lowly status, she is unattainable for him, he escapes to Italy - only to return and learn that she is the duke's adopted daughter, and thus within his social reach. With its combination of dream world and realism, Memoirs of a Good-For-Nothing is considered to be a high point of Romantic fiction. One critic stated that "Eichendorff’s 'Good-For-Nothing' is the "personification of love of nature and an obsession with hiking." Thomas Mann called Eichendorff's Good-For-Nothing a combination of "the purity of the folk song and the fairy tale."

Many of Eichendorff's poems were first published as integral parts of his novellas and stories, where they are often performed in song by one of the protagonists. The novella Good-For-Nothing alone contains 54 poems.

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