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Nachtstück (1819) D672


Wenn über Berge sich der Nebel breitet
Und Luna mit Gewölken kämpft,
So nimmt der Alte seine Harfe, und schreitet
Und singt waldeinwärts und gedämpft:
„Du heilge Nacht:
Bald ist’s vollbracht,
Bald schlaf ich ihn, den langen Schlummer,
Der mich erlöst von allem Kummer.“
Die grünen Bäume rauschen dann:
„Schlaf süss, du guter, alter Mann“;
Die Gräser lispeln wankend fort:
„Wir decken seinen Ruheort“;
Und mancher liebe Vogel ruft:
„O lass ihn ruhn in Rasengruft!“
Der Alte horcht, der Alte schweigt,
Der Tod hat sich zu ihm geneigt.


When the mists spread over the mountains,
and the moon battles with the clouds,
the old man takes his harp, and walks
towards the wood, quietly singing:
‘Holy night,
soon it will be done.
Soon I shall sleep the long sleep
which will free me from all grief.’
Then the green trees rustle:
‘Sleep sweetly, good old man’;
and the swaying grasses whisper:
‘We shall cover his resting place.’
And many a sweet bird calls:
‘Let him rest in his grassy grave!’
The old man listens, the old man is silent.
Death has inclined towards him.
Translation by Richard Wigmore

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Franz Peter Schubert was an late Classical and early Romantic composer. He produced a vast oeuvre during his short life, composing more the 600 vocal works (largely Lieder), and well as several symphonies, operas, and a large body of piano music. He was uncommonly gifted from a young age, but appreciation of his music was limited during his lifetime. His work became more popular in the decades after his death, and was praised by 19th century composers, including Mendelssohn, Schumann, Brahms, and Liszt.

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Johann Baptist Mayrhofer , was an Austrian poet and librettist. He is best known for his close friendship with the composer Franz Schubert.

Mayrhofer was born in Steyr, educated and Novitiate in St. Florian's Priory Upper Austria. In 1810 he began to study Jurisprudence and Theology at the University of Vienna, both of which courses he finished. In 1814 he met the young composer Franz Schubert and his friends (Joseph von Spaun, Franz von Schober).

Mayrhofer wrote a lot of lyric poetry and published it in 1824.

47 Schubert songs and two of his operas are based on Mayrhofer’s lyric poems.

As a young man Mayrhofer had been hopelessly in love with Mina (Wilhelmina Watteroth), the daughter of Heinrich Watteroth, who was one of Mayrhofer's professors and for a short time also his landlord. In his late years Mayrhofer (like Schubert) fell in love with a young 15-year-old girl, the daughter of his landlord Doctor Strauss. Mayrhofer, who had been a hypochondriac all his life, committed suicide by jumping from the window of his office in Vienna.

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