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Ballade (1852) Op. 139 no.7

Part of a series or song cycle:

Des Sängers Fluch (Op. 139)


In der hohen Hall’ saß König Sifrid:
„Ihr Harfner, wer weiß mir das schönste Lied?“
Und ein Jüngling trat aus der Schar behende,
Die Harf’ in der Hand, das Schwert an der Lende:
„Drei Lieder weiß ich; den ersten Sang,
Den hast du ja wohl vergessen schon lang:
Meinen Bruder hast du meuchlings erstochen,
Und aber, hast ihn meuchlings erstochen!
Das andre Lied, das hab’ ich erdacht
In einer finstern, stürmischen Nacht:
Mußt mit mir fechten auf Leben und Sterben,
Und aber, mußt fechten auf Leben und Sterben!“
Da lehnt er die Harfe an den Tisch,
Und sie zogen beide die Schwerter frisch
Und sie fochten lange mit wildem Schalle,
Bis der König sank in der hohen Halle.
„Nun sing’ ich das dritte, das schönste Lied,
Das werd’ ich nimmer zu singen müd’:
König Sifrid liegt in seinem roten Blut,
Und aber, liegt in seinem roten Blut!“


King Sifrid sat in the high vaulted hall:
‘Ye harpers, who can sing me the finest song?’
And nimbly a youth stepped out from the throng,
A harp in his hand, a sword at his side:
‘Three songs I know; the first, I suppose,
You have long since forgotten:
It was you who stabbed my brother to death,
Stabbed him to death like a coward!
The next song is one I thought up
In a dark and stormy night:
You must fight with me till one of us dies,
Must fight with me till one of us dies.’
Whereupon he leant his harp against the table,
And both of them briskly drew their swords
And fought for long with wild cries
Till the king fell in the high vaulted hall.
‘Now I shall sing the third, most beautiful song,
A song I shall never tire of singing:
King Sifrid lies in his crimson blood!
He lies in his crimson blood!’
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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Johann Ludwig Uhland, was a German poet, philologist and literary historian.
He was born in Tübingen, Württemberg, and studied jurisprudence at the university there, but also took an interest in medieval literature, especially old German and French poetry. Having graduated as a doctor of laws in 1810, he went to Paris for eight months to continue his studies of poetry; and from 1812 to 1814 he worked as a lawyer in Stuttgart, in the bureau of the minister of justice.

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