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Fahrt zum Hades (1817) D526

Fahrt zum Hades

Der Nachen dröhnt, Cypressen flüstern,
Horch, Geister reden schaurig drein;
Bald werd’ ich am Gestad’, dem düstern,
Weit von der schönen Erde sein.
Da leuchten Sonne nicht, noch Sterne,
Da tönt kein Lied, da ist kein Freund.
Empfang die letzte Träne, o Ferne,
Die dieses müde Auge weint.
Schon schau’ ich die blassen Danaiden,
Den fluchbeladnen Tantalus;
Es murmelt todesschwangern Frieden,
Vergessenheit, dein alter Fluss.
Vergessen nenn’ ich zwiefach Sterben,
Was ich mit höchster Kraft gewann,
Verlieren, wieder es erwerben –
Wann enden diese Qualen? Wann?

Journey to Hades

The boat moans, the cypresses whisper;
hark, the spirits add their gruesome cries.
Soon I shall reach the shore, so gloomy,
far from the fair earth.
There neither sun nor stars shine,
no song echoes, no friend is nigh.
Distant earth, accept the last tear
that these tired eyes will weep.
Already I see the pale Danaïdes
and curse-laden Tantalus.
Your ancient river, Oblivion,
breathes a peace heavy with death.
Oblivion I deem a twofold death;
to lose that which I won with all my strength,
to strive for it once more –
when will these torments cease? O when?
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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