Program Notes

Program Notes for Love Songs featuring Vocal Soloists of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center

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Love Songs featuring Vocal Soloists of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center

Friday, March 20, 2015 7:30pm

The Schubert Club presents Michelle Arezaga, soprano; Tamara Mumford, mezzo-soprano; Paul Appleby, tenor; Kelly Markgraf, baritone; Gilbert Kalish, piano; and Artistic Director Wu Han, piano.

While Robert Schumann’s Spanische Liebeslieder undoubtedly influenced Brahms’ instrumentation, the true inspiration behind Brahms’ beloved Liebeslieder Waltzes was Schumann’s daughter, Julie (an amorous infatuation of Brahms). Additional lieder from Schubert, Schumann, and Berg complete a program dedicated to affairs of the heart.



Notes on the Program by Dr. Richard E. Rodda

Songs for Voice and Piano

Franz Schubert

Born January 31, 1797 in Lichtenthal, near Vienna.

Died November 19, 1828 in Vienna.

Composed in 1826, 1823, and 1825.

Duration: 10 minutes

Ernst Konrad Friedrich Schulze lived, and made poetry, at the far edge of German Romanticism. Born in Celle in 1789 into a family of lawyers and booksellers, he was a difficult and uncommunicative child who retreated into literature and his own roiling feelings, which he began to shape into despairing, spectral, often cynical poems by the age of 15. His sexual awakening two years later, when he went to Göttingen to begin his university studies, led to an obsessive attention—“stalking” Susan Youens called it in her study of Schubert’s Poets—toward two sisters: first Cäcilie Tychsen and, after she died of tuberculosis in 1812, her older sister, Adelheid. Schulze volunteered to fight against Napoleon in 1814, but his fragile health quickly forced him out of active duty. He died of tuberculosis in 1817; he was 28. Schulze recorded his intense feelings in enormous diaries and long poems throughout his brief life, a number of which were published posthumously in 1822 as the Poetisches Tagebuch (Poetic Diary). Schubert came to know that publication early in 1825—he had considered making an opera of Schulze’s Die Bezauberte Rose (The Enchanted Rose) the year before, but nothing came of the idea—and he set ten of the poems during the following months.

Schulze expressed his unrequited love for the Tychsen sisters in the German Romanticists’ traditional natural metaphors in Im Frühling (In Spring, D. 882), of which Schubert made a poignant setting in 1826. Auf der Bruck (On the Bruck, D. 853) takes its title from a forested hilltop near Göttingen, a wild place in Schulze’s day that is reflected in both the poem and Schubert’s galloping setting of 1825.

In 1821, Schubert’s friend Franz von Bruchmann traveled to Erlangen to hear a lecture by the philosopher Schelling, and there he met the poet and dramatist Count August von Platen-Hallermünde (1796-1835). Bruchmann introduced Schubert’s songs to Platen, who in return gave his visitor a number of his verses for Schubert to consider setting. In March 1822, Schubert composed Platen’s Die Liebe hat gelogen (D. 751, Love has Lied), whose tragic tone is captured in the song’s somber harmonies and dirge-like ostinato rhythms.

Songs for Voice and Piano

Hugo Wolf

Born March 13, 1860 in Windischgraz, Styria, Austria (now Slovenj Gradec, Slovenia).

Died February 22, 1903 in Vienna.

Composed in 1888 and 1889.

Duration: 10 minutes

Hugo Wolf’s career was marked by periods of intense creativity separated by bouts of despondency. His work as a music critic and his often debilitating depression limited his output for many years, but the publication of a few of his songs in early 1888 was the catalyst for the most fecund years of his life: between February and September 1888, he set 53 verses by Eduard Mörike; a book of 20 songs to Joseph Eichendorff’s poems followed before the end of October; and Goethe’s writings provided the texts for fifty more songs by February 1889. Wolf was then deserted by his creative muse (“Polyhymnia,” as he referred to his inspiration) for eight months, but in October 1889, he began setting 16th- and 17th-century Spanish poems that had been translated into German by Emmanuel Geibel and Paul Heyse; by April, he had completed the 44 songs of his Spanisches Liederbuch (Spanish Songbook). In September 1890, he took up Heyse’s translations of Italian poems, and had wrapped 22 of them in music by early the next year. The remaining 24 numbers of the Italienisches Liederbuch date from 1896, after Wolf had completed his comic opera Der Corregidor, based on the 1874 novel by Pedro de Alarcon (which also served as the basis for Falla’s ballet The Three-Cornered Hat). Wolf managed a handful of songs the following year—three settings of poems by Michelangelo were the last music he wrote—but by autumn 1897, he had lost his reason, largely as a result of an untreated case of syphilis contracted 20 years before. He had periods of lucidity during the following year, but in October 1898, after he had tried to drown himself, he was permanently confined to an asylum in Vienna, where he died on February 22, 1903, three weeks before his 43rd birthday.

Nimmersatte Liebe (Insatiable Love), like Wolf’s other settings of the poems of Möricke, is marked by extraordinary sensitivity to the images and emotions of the text as well as by great refinement in combining of voice and piano and in their subtle formal integration. In dem Schatten meiner Locken (In the Shadow of My Curls), from the Spanisches Liederbuch, is a delightfully coquettish rendition of the original anonymous text as re-conceived in German by Heyse. Goethe’s well-known novel of 1796, Wilhelm Meister, tells of the plight of Mignon, a young woman stolen by Gypsies from her Italian home when she was a child. During the Gypsies’ wanderings in Germany, Mignon meets Lothario, a nobleman searching across the Continent for his abducted daughter, and Wilhelm Meister, a student who buys her freedom from the Gypsies. Mignon overcomes her jealousy of Wilhelm’s love for the actress Philine and wins him for herself by the story’s end, which also shows her reconciliation with Lothario, who turns out to be her father. Wolf made a setting of Mignon’s touching song Kennst du das Land (Do you Know the Land) as the ninth of his Gedichte [Poems] von J.W. von Goethe of 1888.


Liederbuch des Hafis for Voice and Piano, Op. 30

Viktor Ullmann

Born January 1, 1898 in Teschen (now Český Těšín, Czech Republic).

Died October 18, 1944 in Auschwitz, Poland.

Composed in 1940.

Premiered on March 3, 1940 in Prague by baritone Robert Stein and the composer as pianist.

Duration: 8 minutes

Viktor Ullmann, one of the most gifted Czech composers of the 20th century, was born on New Year’s Day 1898 in Teschen, then a garrison city in the Austrian Empire and now known as Český Těšín. Ullmann was raised in Vienna, where he received a good basic education and studied piano with Josef Polnauer, a disciple of Schoenberg. In May 1916, a week after he had graduated from high school, he was drafted into the imperial army. Though he rose to the rank of lieutenant, he returned to Vienna appalled by the horror and absurdity of war. He enrolled in the city’s university in 1918 as a law student, but continued his music education by participating in Schoenberg’s composition seminar and studying piano with Eduard Steuermann.

In May 1919, Ullmann moved to Prague to devote himself to music. He was hired by Alexander Zemlinsky (Schoenberg’s brother-in-law) as chorus master, vocal coach, and conductor at the Deutsches Landestheater and continued his composition and piano studies with Heinrich Jalowetz, a close friend of Schoenberg. When Zemlinsky left Prague for Berlin in 1927, Ullmann took a job as music director of the opera house at Aussig (now Ústí nad Labem), 40 miles north of Prague. His daring productions of recent works made the conservative Aussigers uneasy, however, and after a single season at Aussig, he returned briefly to Prague before moving to Switzerland in 1929 as a conductor and composer of incidental music at the Zurich Schauspielhaus. In 1931, he moved to Stuttgart but when the Nazis came to power two years later, he returned to Prague, where he struggled to make a living as a teacher, lecturer, critic, broadcaster, advocate of new music, and composer.

On September 8, 1942, Ullmann was sent to the concentration camp at Theresienstadt (Terezín in Czech), an hour’s drive north of Prague, an extraordinary place where the Nazis allowed the prisoners, many of them Jewish artists and intellectuals from Prague, to stage concerts, plays, operas, recitals, and other events. Ullmann was assigned to organize performances and lectures and to document the musical activities of the camp as its music critic. Freed from the necessity of earning a living, and keenly aware of both the urgency of his situation and, for the first time, of his Jewish heritage, Ullmann blossomed creatively in that most unlikely of situations, completing more than 20 known works during his two years at Theresienstadt. “In no way whatsoever did we sit down and weep on the banks of the waters of Babylon,” he wrote. On October 16, 1944, after such remnants of civilized behavior as had been tolerated at Theresienstadt no longer served the Nazis’ interests, Ullmann was transported to Auschwitz, along with 18,500 others that month. He died in a gas chamber two days later.

Shams-ud-din Muhammad, born into a merchant family in the southern Persian city of Shiraz around 1320, is one of the most celebrated poets of the Muslim world: the name by which he is universally known, Hafiz (“guardian” in Arabic), is given to someone who has memorized the entire Koran. Little is known of Hafiz’s formative years except that he was orphaned at an early age and worked as a dough maker for a baker, and must have received a thorough education in Persian literature, sciences, and Arabic. Except for a brief period when he was exiled 300 miles north to Yazd during a time of political unrest, Hafiz lived his entire life in Shiraz. It is estimated that he wrote some 5,000 poems that encompass philosophy, mysticism, romance, mystery, and adventure, of which about 600 have survived and been gathered into a Divan (collection), which remains one the most published and intensely discussed books in the Middle East. In 1452, 60 years after Hafiz died in Shiraz, a small memorial was erected near his grave. Extensive gardens, which figure prominently in his poetry, were developed around the site, which has been enlarged, restored, and rebuilt on several occasions and retains a significant place in Iranian culture.

The Austrian diplomat and Orientalist Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall published the first German translations of Hafiz’s complete poems in 1812, and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was inspired by the Persian poet two years later to create his own West-östlicher Divan, whose twelve books, according to the late Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, a renowned interpreter of German Lieder, “combined ideas of universal love, wisdom, and polarity of East and West in one work.” Goethe’s enthusiasm for Hafiz led to translations and original verses by such noted writers as Friedrich Rückert, Georg Friedrich Daumer, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Hans Bethge (1876–1946), who published many Nachdichtungen—“paraphrases” or “free renderings”—of Oriental and Middle Eastern poets, including the Nachdichtungen der Lieder und Gesänge des Hafis in 1910. (Bethge’s Die Chinesische Flöte [The Chinese Flute] served as the basis of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde [The Song of the Earth].) For a private concert on March 3, 1940 at the home of Konrad Wallerstein, the voice professor at the German Academy of Music in Prague, Viktor Ullmann set four of Bethge’s verses as the Liederbuch des Hafis (Song Book of Hafiz) and gave their premiere with baritone Robert Stein. Though several poems in Bethge’s collection treat love and life in an idealized manner, the ones that Ullmann chose deal with the very worldly pleasures of drinking and erotic love. Ullmann’s songs convey not just the poems’ earthiness and embrace of the sensual life, but also an underlying tension that seems to mirror the ominous historical moment of their creation, when the Nazis had already overrun Austria and Poland and would occupy Prague just two weeks after this music was first heard.

Spanische Liebeslieder for Four Voices and Piano, Four Hands, Op. 138

Robert Schumann

Born June 8, 1810 in Zwickau, Germany.

Died July 29, 1856 in Endenich, near Bonn.

Composed in 1849.

Duration: 22 minutes

The verses of the German poet and philologist Emanuel von Geibel (1815-84) were set to music hundreds of times through the early 20th century by many noted composers. In 1851, King Maximilian II of Bavaria offered Geibel an honorary professorship at the University of Munich, and there he became the center of the city’s literary life, publishing two dramas as well as collections of verse and translations of French and Spanish popular poetry, including the Spanische Liederbuch (Spanish Songbook, with Paul Heyse). Geibel lost his post with Maximilian II in 1869 when he wrote an encomium to King Wilhelm I of Prussia at a time of strained relations between Munich and Berlin, but Wilhelm settled a pension upon the then-celebrated author, who lived in his native Lübeck until his death in 1884.

Robert Schumann first learned of Geibel’s poems around 1840, when his verses began appearing in literary journals and composers were submitting their songs set to them for review to the Neue Zeitschift für Musik (New Journal for Music), which Schumann had founded six years before. Schumann and Geibel met in Dresden four times between April and June 1846, and it is possible that the poet presented the composer on one of those occasions with a copy of his Volkslieder und Romanzen der Spanier (1843), translations of song texts and poems by such Spanish and Portuguese Renaissance authors as Luis de Camoens (ca. 1524-80), Pedro de Padilla (1540-after 1599), Gil Vicente (1465-1537), and Rodrigo de Cota (ca. 1430-ca. 1505); several of the poems are anonymous and at least some of them may have been written by Geibel.

In 1848, Schumann took over direction of the Dresden Verein für Chorgesang (Association for Choral Singing) and the following year he set eight of Geibel’s verses for vocal quartet as the Spanische Liebeslieder, Op. 138 (Spanish Love Songs), accompanied by two pianists at one keyboard. He arranged the set into two parts, each preceded by a brief movement for piano: Prelude and a National Dance of vaguely exotic but unidentifiable character (more Eastern European than Spanish, if anything). Each of the four singers has a solo number—the tenor has two light ones—with duets for the female and male voices and a concluding quartet.

Sieben frühe Lieder for Voice and Piano

Alban Berg

Born February 9, 1885 in Vienna.

Died there on December 24, 1935.

Composed in 1905-08, revised 1928.

Premiered on November 6, 1928 in Vienna.

Duration: 16 minutes

Alban Berg composed more than a hundred songs and vocal ensembles before and during his study with Arnold Schoenberg from 1905 to 1910, though few seem to have been the result of his class assignments, for which Schoenberg required counterpoint exercises and instrumental compositions. It was from this substantial body of work that Berg culled the Seven Early Songs for publication in 1928, at which time he also arranged the original piano accompaniments for orchestra. The Seven Early Songs, composed between 1905 and 1908, were given their formal premiere in Vienna on November 6, 1928, though three of them—Die Nachtigall (The Nightingale), Traumgekrönt (Crowned in Dreams), and Liebesode (Love’s Ode)—had been heard previously at a concert of music by Schoenberg’s pupils in November 1907. Though they do not form an integrated cycle—each sets a poem by a different author—these songs all share the Late Romantic idioms in which Berg was immersed at the beginning of his creative life, from the conventional language of Brahms to the avant-gardisms of Strauss’ Salome, which the young musician attended a half-dozen times during 1906. The Seven Early Songs are the first works that Berg admitted to his mature oeuvre, and they possess the sensitivity to text-setting and vocal sonority, the wide-ranging lyricism, subtle harmonic color, and sincerity of expression that characterize his finest music.

Liebeslieder Waltzer for Vocal Quartet and Piano, Four Hands, Op. 52

Johannes Brahms

Born May 7, 1833 in Hamburg.

Died April 3, 1897 in Vienna.

Composed in 1868-69.

Premiered on January 5, 1870, with Clara Schumann and the composer as pianists.

Duration: 25 minutes

Brahms settled in Vienna for good in 1869 after becoming thoroughly familiar with the great imperial city during the preceding years. He had given his first piano recital there in 1862 and directed four concerts of the Wiener Singakademie the following year, but then declined that organization’s offer to return for another season as director so that he could continue touring as a pianist. By 1869, however, the lure of Vienna, with its rich cultural life and the many friendships that he had made during earlier visits, proved irresistible. After living for several months in a hotel, in 1870 Brahms moved into the apartment in the Karlgasse that was to be his home for the rest of his life.

Among the first musical products of Brahms’ Viennese residency were the Liebeslieder Walzer, a cycle of pieces for vocal quartet and four-hand piano accompaniment on texts by Georg Friedrich Daumer (1800-75). These Love-Song Waltzes, giddy with the sensuous atmosphere of fin-de-siècle Vienna, were modeled on Schubert’s Deutsche Tänze (German Dances) and the dance music of Joseph Lanner and the Strauss family, but were infused with Brahms’ characteristic harmonic and contrapuntal idiom. Their subject is love—its joys and sorrows, its fulfillments and disappointments—couched in the natural images of sun, moon, stars, birds, flowers, dark woods, stormy seas, and mountain torrents. Brahms, who usually dispensed only cheerfully belittling comments about his own works, spoke highly of this music, assuring his publisher, Fritz Simrock, “I will risk being dubbed an ass if our Liebeslieder do not bring joy to quite a few people.” They did, and Brahms returned to the genre five years later to produce the set of Neue [New] Liebeslieder, Op. 65.

All of the poems for both sets of Liebeslieder Waltzes, save only the final text of the Neue Liebeslieder (by Goethe), are from Polydora, Daumer’s 1855 translations and imitations of love poems and dance songs from such widely scattered regions as Turkey, Sicily, Russia, Spain, Poland, and southeast Asia. In these songs, simple in structure, immediate in appeal, and irresistibly lyrical, Brahms distilled what British musicologist Malcolm MacDonald, in his 1990 study of the composer, called “coy truisms and apothegms about love.”

©2015 Dr. Richard E. Rodda




Texts and Translations

Songs by Franz Schubert

Im Frühling, D. 882


Still sitz ich an des Hügels Hang,

Der Himmel ist so klar,

Das Lüftchen spielt im grünen Tal,

Wo ich beim ersten Frühlingsstrahl

Einst, ach so glücklich war.


Wo ich an ihrer Seite ging

So traulich und so nah,

Und tief im dunkeln Felsenquell

Den schönen Himmel blau und hell

Und sie im Himmel sah.


Sieh, wie der bunte Frühling schon

Aus Knosp’ und Blüte blickt!

Nicht alle Blüten sind mir gleich,

Am liebsten pflückt ich von dem Zweig,

Von welchem sie gepflückt.


Denn alles ist wie damals noch,

Die Blumen, das Gefild;

Die Sonne scheint nicht minder hell,

Nicht minder freundlich schwimmt im Quell

Das blaue Himmelsbild.


Es wandeln nur sich Will und Wahn,

Es wechseln Lust und Streit,

Vorüber flieht der Liebe Glück,

Und nur die Liebe bleibt zurück,

Die Lieb und ach, das Leid!


O wär ich doch ein Vöglein nur

Dort an dem Wiesenhang

Dann blieb ich auf den Zweigen hier,

Und säng ein süßes Lied von ihr,

Den ganzen Sommer lang.


Text: Ernst Schulze


In Spring


I sit quietly on the hillside.

The sky is so clear,

a light breeze drifts through the green valley,

where, in the first bright rays of Spring,

I was once so happy.


Where I walked beside her

so rapt and so near.

The depths of a dark, rocky spring

reflected the beautiful blue of the sky,

and I saw her in that sky.


See, how colorfully Spring already

peeks out from bud and bloom!

Not all flowers are the same to me– 

I prefer to pluck them from the same branch

that she had chosen.


Everything is still as it was,

the flowers, the field;

the sun shines no less brightly,

nor is the stream less eager

to mirror the blue of the sky.


Only determination and delusion will change.

Delight turns to discord,

the joy of love takes flight,

and love alone remains–

love, and ah, its pain!

If only I were a little bird

there on that grassy hill,

then I could stay here amid these branches
and sing sweetly of her

all the summer long.

Die Liebe hat gelogen, D. 751, Op. 23, No. 1 


Die Liebe hat gelogen,

Die Sorge lastet schwer,

Betrogen, ach! betrogen

Hat alles mich umher!


Es fließen heiße Tropfen

Die Wange stets herab,

Laß ab, mein Herz, zu klopfen,
Du armes Herz, laß ab!


Text: Count August von Platen-Hallermünde


Love has Lied


Love has lied,

I am oppressed by fears.
Betrayed, ah! I am betrayed
by all around me!

Hot tears flow endlessly

down my cheeks.
Cease, my heart, cease beating,

you poor heart, cease!


Auf der Bruck, D. 853


“Der Bruck“ is a forested hilltop on the outskirts of Gottingen.


Frisch trabe sonder Ruh und Rast,                                           

Mein gutes Ross, durch Nacht und Regen!                            

Was scheust du dich vor Busch und Ast                                 

Und strauchelst auf den wilden Wegen?                               

Dehnt auch der Wald sich tief und dicht,                               

Doch muss er endlich sich erschliessen;                                

Und freundlich wird ein fernes Licht                                      

Uns aus dem dunkeln Tale grüssen.                                        


Wohl könnt ich über Berg und Feld                                        

Auf deinem schlanken Rücken fliegen                                   

Und mich am bunten Spiel der Welt,                                      

An holden Bildern mich vergnügen;                                       

Manch Auge lacht mir traulich zu                                            

Und beut mir Frieden, Lieb und Freude,                                

Und dennoch eil ich ohne Ruh,                                                

Zurück zu meinem Leide.                                                          


Denn schon drei Tage war ich fern                                         

Von ihr, die ewig mich gebunden;                                           

Drei Tage waren Sonn und Stern                                             

Und Erd und Himmel mir verschwunden.                              

Von Lust und Leiden, die mein Herz                                       

Bei ihr bald heilten, bald zerrissen                                          

Fühlt ich drei Tage nur den Schmerz,                                     

Und ach! die Freude musst ich missen!                                  


Weit sehn wir über Land und See                                           

Zur wärmern Flur den Vogel fliegen;                                      

Wie sollte denn die Liebe je                                                     

In ihrem Pfade sich betrügen?                                                 

Drum trabe mutig durch die Nacht!                                        

Und schwinden auch die dunkeln Bahnen,                            

Der Sehnsucht helles Auge wacht,                                          

Und sicher führt mich süsses Ahnen.


Text: Ernst Schulze


On the Bruck




Trot briskly, my good steed,
without pause or rest, through night and rain!

Why do you shy at bushes and branches,

and stumble on the overgrown paths?

Although the forest is deep  and thick,

it must eventually open;

and a friendly, far light will greet us

from the dark of the valley.


I could fly over hill and field

upon your slender back,

the colorful play of the world

unfurling before my delighted eyes.

Many an eye smiles familiarly at me,

offering peace, love, and joy;

but I hurry on, without rest,

returning to my sorrow.


I’ve been away for three days now,

far from her, to whom I am forever bound;

three days with neither sun nor star

nor heaven nor earth.

Near her, my heart feels such delight and sorrow– 

now  healed,  now rent anew–

but for three days I have known only the pain

and ah! what joy I’ve missed!


We see birds fly over land and sea

in search of warmer climes;

how then could love ever

fail to find its way?

So trot bravely through the night!

And though the darkening path may fade,

desire’s shining eye keeps watch,

and sweet anticipation guides me surely on.


Songs by Hugo Wolf


Nimmersatte Liebe from Gedichte von Eduard Mörike

 So ist die Lieb’! So ist die Lieb’!Mit Küßen nicht zu stillen :Wer ist der Tor und will ein SiebMit eitel Wasser füllen?Und schöpfst du an die tausend Jahr;Und küßest ewig, ewig gar,Du tust ihr nie zu Willen. Die Lieb’, die Lieb’ hat alle Stund’Neu wunderlich Gelüsten;Wir bißen uns die Lippen wund,Da wir uns heute küßten.Das Mädchen hielt in guter Ruh’,Wie’s Lämmlein unter’m Messer;Ihr Auge bat: nur immer zu,Je weher, desto beßer! So ist die Lieb’, und war auch so,Wie lang es Liebe giebt, Und anders war Herr Salomo,Der Weise, nicht verliebt.


Text: Eduard Mörike


Insatiable Love from Poems of Eduard Mörike


Such is love! Such is love!
Not to be quenched with kisses.
What sort of fool would try to fill

A sieve with water?
You could try for a thousand years;
kissing forever and ever,
and still never find satisfaction.

Love, love has new
and wonderful whims every hour;
We bit our lips sore

as we kissed today.
The girl remained quite calm,
like a lamb under the knife,
her eyes pleading—don’t stop,

the more painful, the better!

Such is love, and was ever so,
since love itself began,
not even Solomon the wise

could love in any other way.


In dem Schatten meiner Locke from Spanisches Liederbuch

In dem Schatten meiner LockenSchlief mir mein Geliebter ein.Weck’ ich ihn nun auf?—Ach nein! Sorglich strählt’ ich meine krausenLocken täglich in der Frühe,Doch umsonst ist meine Mühe,Weil die Winde sie zerzausen.Lockenschatten, WindessausenSchläferten den Liebsten ein.Weck’ ich ihn nun auf?—Ach nein! Hören muß ich, wie ihn gräme,Daß er schmachtet schon so lange,Daß ihm Leben geb’ und nehmeDiese meine braune Wange,Und er nennt mich seine Schlange,Und doch schlief er bei mir ein.Weck’ ich ihn nun auf?—Ach nein!


Text: Anonymous, re-conceived by Paul Heyse


In the Shadow of my Curls from Spanish Songbook



In the shadow of my curls
my beloved is sleeping.
Shall I wake him?—Ah, no!

I carefully comb my tumbled curls
early each morning,
yet all my work is for naught

as the wind tousles them again.

A shadow of curls, a whisper of wind
have put my beloved to sleep.
Shall I wake him?—Ah, no!

I must hear him complain
that he longs for me so,

that his whole life depends
on this, my brown cheek,
and he calls me his serpent.
And yet he fell asleep by my side.
Shall I wake him?—Ah, no!

Kennst du das Land from Gedichte von Goethe

 Kennst du das Land, wo die Zitronen blühn,Im dunkeln Laub die Gold-Orangen glühn,Ein sanfter Wind vom blauen Himmel weht, Die Myrte still und hoch der Lorbeer steht? Kennst du es wohl?Dahin! dahinMöcht ich mit dir, o mein Geliebter, ziehn. Kennst du das Haus? Auf Säulen ruht sein Dach.Es glänzt der Saal, es schimmert das Gemach,Und Marmorbilder stehn und sehn mich an:Was hat man dir, du armes Kind, getan?Kennst du es wohl? Dahin! dahinMöcht ich mit dir, o mein Beschützer, ziehn. Kennst du den Berg und seinen Wolkensteg?Das Maultier sucht im Nebel seinen Weg;In Höhlen wohnt der Drachen alte Brut;Es stürzt der Fels und über ihn die Flut! Kennst du ihn wohl?Dahin! dahinGeht unser Weg! O Vater, laß uns ziehn!


Text: Goethe


Do you Know the Land from Poems of Goethe


Do you know the land where the lemon tree blooms,
where golden oranges gleam amid dark foliage,
A soft breeze blows from the blue sky,
and the silent myrtle stands, and the tall laurel?
Do you know it?
There! It is there
I would go with you, O my beloved!

Do you know the house whose roof rests on pillars?
Its hall gleams, and its chambers shine,
and marble statues stand and gaze at me:
What have they done to you, poor child?
Do you know it?
There!  It is there
I would go with you, O my protector.

Do you know the mountains shrouded in mist?
The mule seeks his path through the clouds,
caverns shelter the dragon’s ancient brood,
water rushes over steeply plunging cliffs!
Do you know it?
There! There
lies our path! O Father, let us go!

Liederbuch des Hafis (Song Book of Hafiz), Op. 30

Viktor Ullmann




Alles ist vorausbestimmt                                                            

Durch die grosse Güte Allahs.                                                  

Ach was soll ich tun?                                                                  

Ich bin längst vorausbestimmt                                                  

Für den Wein und für die Schenke.                                        

Ach, was soll ich tun?                                                                 

Wie die Vögel ihre Büsche,                                                       

Wie die Rehe ihre Wälder                                                        

Lieben durch Vorausbestimmung,                                           

Also liebe ich alleine                                                                  

Wein und Schenke und die Schenkin.                                    

Alles ist vorausbestimmt                                                            

Durch die grosse Güte Allahs.                                                  

Ach was soll ich tun?




Everything is predetermined

through the great goodness of Allah.
Ah, what can I do?
I have long been predetermined
for wine and the tavern.
Ah, what can I do?

As birds love their bushes,
and deer love their woods

through their predetermination,

so must I love only
wine, and tavern and tavern-keeper.
Everything is predetermined
through the great goodness of Allah.
Ah, what can I do?



Hafis, du bist betrunken,                                                           

Ich sehs an deinem Schatten,                                                   

An diesem Taumelschatten,                                                      

Der sich so toll gebärdet,                                                          

Als käm er aus dem Tollhaus!                                                   


Ei, welch verrückter Schatten                                                  

Im allzu hellen Mondschein!                                                     

Das fuchtelt und das biegt sich                                                 

Und stolpert hin und reckt sich,                                               

Aufwärts und nach den Seiten.                                                

Ei, welch grotesker Schatten,                                                   

Welch indiskreter Mondschein!                                              


Nie hab ich’s glauben wollen,                                                   

Wenn scheltend mich Suleima                                                 

Beschwor, ich sei betrunken.                                                   

Jetzt muss ich’s wahrlich glauben:                                           

Ich bin ein würdeloser,                                                              

Ein aller Anmut barer,                                                                

Ein ganz betrunkner Trinker                                                     

Mit einem Taumelschatten                                                       

Im indiskreten Mondschein!                                                     





Hafiz, you’re drunk,
I can tell by your shadow,
this staggering shadow
which behaves as wildly
as one fleeing the madhouse!

Oh, what a lunatic shadow
in this all too bright moonlight!
It gestures and twists

and stumbles and stretches,
upwards and sideways.
Oh, what a grotesque shadow,
what indiscreet moonlight!

I never wanted to believe it
when Suleima scolded me,

swearing that I was drunk.
Now I must believe it:
I’m undignified,
devoid of all charm,
a totally drunk drunkard
with his staggering shadow
in the indiscreet moonlight!

Unwiderstehliche Schönheit


Durch deine schönen Locken werden                                   

Die Heiden und die Glaubensstarken                                     

In gleicher Weise sinnverwirrt.                                                


Die schwachen Seelen stürzen taumelnd                              

In deiner Wangen holde Grübchen,                                       

Die starken Seelen stürzen nach.                                            


Dein Aug, das von der Schwarzen Kunst                                  

Geschaffen ward, lenkt aus den Wolken                                

Des Adlers Flug zu sich zurück.                                                


Die zarte Nachtigall, die nicht                                                   

Aufsteigen kann in Wolkenfernen,                                         

Ist ganz und gar in deinem Bann.                                             


Hafis vergass um deinetwillen                                                  

Die Morgen- und die Nachtgebete,                                         

Klar ist sein Seelenuntergang!                                                  




Irresistible Beauty


By your beautiful curls
the heathen and the true believers

are similarly befuddled.

The weak souls tumble, reeling
before your sweet dimpled cheeks,
the strong souls plunging after them.

Your eyes, created by

the blackest art, distract the eagle

from his flight to the clouds.

The sweet nightingale,

who cannot soar to the far clouds,

is completely under your spell.

Because of you, Hafiz forgot

his morning and his evening prayers.
Clearly, his soul is in ruins!

Lob des Weines


Gebt meinen Becher! Seht, er überstrahlt                            

Die blasse Lampe der Vernunft, so wie                                  

Die Sonne die Gestirne überstrahlt!                                       


Gebt meinen Becher! Sämtliche Gebete                                

Meines Breviers will ich vergessen, alle                                 

Suren des Korans stürz ich in den Wein!                               


Gebt meinen Becher! Und Gesang erschalle                         

Und dringe zu den tanzenden Sphären auf                           

Mit mächtigem Schwung!                                                            

Ich bin der Herr der Welt!


Text: Hafiz, freely rendered into German by Hans Bethge


In Praise of Wine


Give me my cup!  See, it outshines
the dim light of reason

as the sun outshines the stars!

Give me my cup! I would forget

every prayer, every chapter

of the Qur’an as I plunge into the wine!


Give me my cup!  Let song resound
and ring to the far dancing spheres
with a mighty echo!
I am lord of the world!

Spanische Liebeslieder (Spanish Love Songs), Op. 138
Robert Schumann


Prelude for Piano, Four Hands


Tief im Herzen trag’ ich Pein (S)


Tief im Herzen trag’ ich Pein,

Muss nach aussen stille sein,                                                    

Den geliebten Schmerz verhehle                                            

Tief ich vor der Welt Gesicht;                                                  

Und es fühlt ihn nur die Seele,                                                 

Denn der Leib verdient ihn nicht.                                           

Wie der Funke, frei und licht,                                                  

Sich verbirgt im Kieselstein,                                                      

Trag’ ich innen tief die Pein.1





I carry sorrow in the depths of  my heart (S)


I carry sorrow in the depths of  my heart,

but must remain outwardly calm.

I conceal this sweet pain

from the eyes of the world.

Only the soul may feel it,

for the body does not deserve it.

Just as a spark, free and light,

is hidden within a flint,

I carry my sorrow deep within.


O wie lieblich ist das Mädchen (T)


O wie lieblich ist das Mädchen,                                                

Wie so schön und voll Anmut,                                                  

Wie so schön!                                                                              


Sag’ mir an, du wack’rer Seemann,                                          

Der du lebst auf deinem Schiffe,                                             

Ob das Schiff und seine Segel,                                                 

Ob die Sterne wohl so schön sind!                                          


Sag’ mir an, du stolzer Ritter,                                                    

Der du gehst im blanken Harnisch,                                          

Ob das Ross und ob die Rüstung,                                             

Ob die Schlachten wohl so schön sind!                                  


Sag’ mir an, du Hirtenknabe,                                                     

Der du deine Herde weidest,                                                   

Ob die Lämmer, ob die Matten,                                               

Ob die Berge wohl so schön sind,                                            


O wie lieblich ist das Mädchen,                                                

Wie so schön und voll Anmut,                                                  

Wie so schön!2                                                                            


Oh, the girl is lovely (T)

Oh, the girl is lovely,

so beautiful and graceful,

oh, so beautiful!

Tell me, gallant sailor,

you who live upon your ship,

whether the ship and her sails,

or the stars are quite as beautiful!


Tell me, proud knight,

clad in shining armor,

whether your steed or your arms,

or battles are quite as beautiful!


Tell me, shepherd boy,

you who keep your flock,

whether the lambs or the pastures,

or the mountains are quite as beautiful!


Oh, the girl is lovely,

so beautiful and graceful,

oh, so beautiful!

Bedeckt mich mit Blumen (SA)


Bedeckt mich mit Blumen,                                                        

Ich sterbe vor Liebe.                                                                  

Bedeckt mich,

Dass die Luft mit leisem Wehen                                               

Nicht den süssen Duft mir entführe!                                       

Von Jasmin und weissen Lilien                                                 

Sollt ihr hier mein Grab bereiten,                                            

Ich sterbe, bedeckt mich mit Blumen!                                    

Und befragt ihr mich: woran? sag ich:                                    

Unter süssen Qualen vor Liebe.3                                             

Cover me with flowers (SA)

Cover me with flowers,

I die for love.

Cover me,

so the gently blowing breeze cannot

steal their sweet fragrance from me!

With jasmine and white lilies,

here shall you lay my grave.

I die, cover me with flowers!

And if you ask me—why? I say—

from love’s sweet torment.



Flutenreicher Ebro (B)


Flutenreicher Ebro,                                                                    

Blühendes Ufer,                                                                          

All ihr grünen Matten,                                                               

Schatten des Waldes,                                                                 

Fraget die Geliebte,                                                                    

Die unter euch ruhet,                                                                

Ob in ihrem Glücke                                                                    

Sie meiner gedenket.                                                                 


Und ihr tauigen Perlen,                                                             

Die ihr im Frührot                                                                       

Den grünenden Rasen                                                               

Bunt mit Farben schmückt,                                                       

Fraget die Geliebte,                                                                    

Wenn sie Kühlung atmet,                                                          

Ob in ihrem Glücke                                                                    

Sie meiner gedenket.                                                                 


Ihr laubigen Pappeln,                                                                 

Schimmernde Pfade,                                                                  

Wo leichten Fusses                                                                    

Mein Mädchen wandelt,                                                           

Wenn sie euch begegnet,                                                         

Fragt sie, fragt sie,                                                                       

Ob in ihrem Glücke                                                                    

Sie meiner gedenket.                                                                 


Ihr schwärmenden Vögel,                                                         

Die den Sonnenaufgang                                                            

Singend ihr begrüsset                                                                

Mit Flötenstimmen,                                                                    

Fraget die Geliebte,                                                                    

Dieses Ufers Blume,                                                                   

Ob in ihrem Glücke                                                                    

Sie meiner gedenket.3

Rushing Ebro River (B)

Rushing Ebro River,

blooming banks,

all you green meadows,

forest shadows,

ask my beloved,

who rests in your midst,

if in her happiness

she thinks of me.


And you, dew pearls,

scattering the green grass

with bright glints of color

in the red glow of dawn,

ask my beloved,

when she breathes in your coolness,

if in her happiness

she thinks of me.

You leafy poplars,

shimmering paths

where my maiden roams

with a light step,

when she comes upon you

ask her, ask her

if in her happiness

she thinks of me.


You rioting birds,

who greet

the sunrise

with fluting voices,

ask my beloved,

the flower of this shore,

if in her happiness

she thinks of me.



Intermezzo: National Dance for Piano, Four Hands


Weh, wie zornig ist das Mädchen (T)


Weh, wie zornig ist das Mädchen,                                           

Weh, wie zornig, weh, weh!                                                     

Im Gebirge geht das Mädchen                                                 

Ihrer Herde hinterher,                                                              

Ist so schön wie die Blumen,                                                     

Ist so zornig wie das Meer.2                                                      






Oh, the girl is so angry (T)


Oh, the girl is so angry,

oh, so angry!

The girl goes to the mountains

with her flock.

She’s as beautiful as the flowers,

as angry as the sea.


Hoch, hoch sind die Berge (A)


Hoch, hoch sind die Berge                                                        

Und steil ist ihr Pfad;                                                                  

Die Brunnen sprüh’n Wasser                                                   

Und rieseln ins Kraut.                                                                 

O Mutter, o Mutter,                                                                   

Lieb’ Mütterlein du,                                                                   

Dort, dort in die Berge                                                               

Mit den Gipfeln so stolz,                                                            

Da ging eines Morgens                                                              

Mein süssester Freund.                                                             

Wohl rief ich zurück ihn                                                            

Mit Zeichen und Wort,                                                              

Wohl winkt’ ich mit allen                                                           

Fünf Fingern zurück,                                                                  

Wohl rief ich zurück ihn                                                            

Mit Zeichen und Wort!4                                                             



High, high are the mountains (A)
High, high are the mountains
and the paths are steep.

Water bubbles from the springs

and flows away into the underbrush.

Oh mother, mother

my dearest mother,

There, up to the mountains

with their proud peaks,

one morning went

my sweetest friend.

I beckoned him back

with both gestures and words,

with every one

of my five fingers,

I called him back

with gestures and words!



Blaue Augen hat das Mädchen (TB)


Blaue Augen hat das Mädchen,                                                

Wer verliebte sich nicht drein?                                               


Sind so reizend zum Entzücken,                                               

Dass sie jedes Herz bestricken,                                                

Wissen doch so stolz zu blicken,                                              

Dass sie eitel schaffen Pein.                                                      


Machen Ruh’ und Wohlbefinden,                                           

Sinnen und Erinn’rung schwinden,                                          

Wissen stets zu überwinden                                                     

Mit dem spielend süssen Schein.                                             


Keiner, der geschaut ihr Prangen,                                           

Ist noch ihrem Netz entgangen,                                               

Alle Welt begehrt zu hangen                                                    

Tag und Nacht an ihrem Schein.                                               


Blaue Augen hat das Mädchen,                                                

Wer verliebte sich nicht drein?2                                              

The girl has blue eyes (TB)

The girl has blue eyes,

who would not fall in love with them?


They are so delightful in their charms

that every heart is captivated,

their proud gaze

carelessly causes torment.


They bring peace and well-being,

cares and memories vanish,

they know how to conquer
with the play of their sweet light.

No one, having seen their brilliance,

is able to avoid their snare,

all the world desires to bask

day and night in their glow.


The girl has blue eyes,

who would not fall in love with them?



Dunkler Lichtglanz, blinder Blick (SATB)


Dunkler Lichtglanz, blinder Blick,                                             

Totes Leben, Lust voll Plage.                                                     

Glück erfüllt von Missgeschick,                                                

Trübes Lachen, frohe Klage,                                                     

Süsse Galle, holde Pein,                                                             

Fried’ und Krieg in einem Herzen,                                           

Das kannst, Liebe, du nur sein,                                                 

Mit der Lust erkauft durch Schmerzen.                                  

Liebe, das kannst du nur sein!5                                                


1. Original Spanish text by Luis de Camoens

2. Original Spanish text by Gil Vicente

3. Original Spanish text by unknown author

4. Original Spanish text by Pedro de Padilla

5. Original Spanish text by Rodrigo de Cota

Translated from Spanish to German by Emanuel Geibel


Dark light, blind gaze (SATB)

Dark light, blind gaze,

dead life, joyful curse,

fortune filled with adversity,

sad laughter, glad tears,

sweet bitterness, lovely agony,

peace and war united in one heart.

Love, this could only be you,

whose joy is bought through suffering.

Love, this could only be you!


Sieben frühe Lieder

Alban Berg




Dämmern Wolken über Nacht und Tal,                                  

Nebel schweben, Wasser rauschen sacht.                             

Nun entschleiert sich’s mit einemmal:                                    

O gib acht! Gib acht!                                                                   

Weites Wunderland ist aufgetan.                                            

Silbern ragen Berge traumhaft gross,                                     

stille Pfade silberlicht talan                                                       

aus verborg’nem Schoss;                                                          

und die hehre Welt so traumhaft rein.                                   

Stummer Buchenbaum am Wege steht                                  

schattenschwarz, ein Hauch vom fernen Hain                      

einsam leise weht.                                                                      

Und aus tiefen Grundes Düsterheit                                         

blinken Lichter auf in stummer Nacht.                                    

Trinke Seele! Trinke Einsamkeit!                                              

O gib acht! Gib acht!                                                                   


Text: Carl Hauptmann


Clouds gather over night and valley,

floating mists, gently rushing water.

Now suddenly unveiled:

O look! Look out!

A wide wonderland has opened.

Silver towering mountains, fantastically immense,

silent paths, silver-lit, wend to the valley

from their secret source.

The noble world is so fantastically pure.

A silent beech tree stands at the path,

shadow-black, a breeze from the far wood

gently stirs.

From the deep gloom of the valley

lights flicker in the still night.

Drink, soul!  Drink in this solitude!

O look! Look out!





Auf geheimem Waldespfade                                                    

schleich’ ich gern im Abendschein                                          

an das öde Schilfgestade,                                                          

Mädchen, und gedenke dein!                                                  


Wenn sich dann der Busch verdüstert,                                  

rauscht das Rohr geheimnisvoll,                                              

und es klaget und es flüstert,                                                   

dass ich weinen, weinen soll.                                                   


Und ich mein’, ich höre wehen                                                

leise deiner Stimme Klang,                                                        

und im Weiher untergehen                                                      

deinen lieblichen Gesang.                                                         


Text: Nikolaus Lenau


Reed Song

Along a hidden forest path
I like to steal in the twilight,

to the deserted, reedy shore

and think, maiden, of you!


As the wood grows darker

the reeds rustle enigmatically,

moaning and whispering,

so that I weep, I must weep.


And I think I hear your voice,

drifting softly,

and from the depths of the pond,

your lovely song.



Die Nachtigall


Das macht, es hat die Nachtigall                                               

die ganze Nacht gesungen;                                                       

da sind von ihrem süssen Schall,                                              

da sind in Hall und Widerhall                                                    

die Rosen aufgesprungen.                                                        


Sie war doch sonst ein wildes Blut,                                          

nun geht sie tief in Sinnen,                                                       

trägt in der Hand den Sommerhut                                           

und duldet still der Sonne Glut,                                               

und weiss nicht, was beginnen.                                                


Das macht, es hat die Nachtigall                                               

die ganze Nacht gesungen;                                                       

da sind von ihrem süssen Schall,                                              

da sind in Hall und Widerhall                                                    

die Rosen aufgesprungen.                                                        


Text: Theodor Storm


The Nightingale

Because the nightingalehas sung the whole night long;from her sweet call,from the sound and the echo roses have burst into bloom. She was once wild blooded,but now wanders, lost in thought, carrying a summer hat in her handwhile mutely enduring the sun’s glare,not knowing what do to. Because the nightingalehas sung the whole night long;from her sweet call,from the sound and the echo roses have burst into bloom. 



Das war wer Tag der weissen Chrysanthemen,                             

mir bangte fast vor seiner Pracht…                                         

Un dann, dann kamst du mir                                                       

die Seele nehmen tief in der Nacht.                                       

Mir war so bang, und du kamst lieb und leise,                        

ich hatte grad im Traum an dich gedacht.                              

Du kamst, und leis’ wie eine Märchenweise                          

erklang die Nacht.                                                                       


Text: Rainer Maria Rilke


Crowned in Dreams

It was the day of white chrysanthemums,
I almost quailed before their magnificence…
and then, then you came to me

taking my soul in the darkest night.
I was afraid, and you came so tenderly and gently,
I had just been dreaming of you.
You came, and as lightly as a fairy song
the night resounded.

Im Zimmer



Der liebe Abend blickt so still herein.                                     

Ein Feuerlein rot                                                                         

knistert im Ofenloch und loht.                                                 

So, mein Kopf auf deinen Knien,                                              

so ist mir gut.                                                                               

Wenn mein Auge so in deinem ruht,                                      

wie leise die Minuten ziehn.                                                     


Text: Johannes Schlaf


In the Room
Autumn sunshine.

The lovely evening seems so silent.

A small red fire

crackles and blazes in the stove.

Like this, with my head upon your knee,

how happy I am.

When my eyes meet yours,

how imperceptibly the minutes pass.




Im Arm der Liebe schliefen wir selig ein.                               

Am offnen Fenster lauschte der Sommerwind,                    

und unserer Atemzüge Frieden trug er hinaus                     

in die helle Mondnacht.                                                            

Und aus dem Garten tastete zagend sich                               

ein Rosenduft an unserer Liebe Bett                                      

und gab uns wundervolle Träume,                                          

Träume des Rausches, so reich an Sehnsucht.                      


Text: Otto Erich Hartleben

Love’s Ode

We fell asleep blissfully in Love’s arms.

The summer breeze listened at the open window

and carried our tranquil breath

out into the bright, moonlit night.

And from the garden, timidly feeling its way,

the scent of roses drifted to our bed of love

and gave us wonderful dreams,

dreams of ecstasy, heavy with longing.




Nun ziehen Tage über die Welt,                                              

gesandt aus blauer Ewigkeit,                                                     

im Sommerwind verweht die Zeit.                                           

Nun windet nächtens der Herr                                                  

Sternenkränze mit seliger Hand über                                       

Wander- und Wunderland.                                                      

O Herz, was kann in diesen Tagen                                           

dein hellstes Wanderlied denn sagen                                    

von deiner tiefen, tiefen Lust:                                                 

Im Wiesensang verstummt die Brust,                                      

nun schweigt das Wort, wo Bild um Bild                                 

zu dir zieht und dich ganz erfüllt.


Text: Paul Hohenberg


Summer Days

Now the days are drawn through the world

sent from blue eternity.

Time is scattered by the summer breeze.

Now God’s blessed hand

weaves a wreath of stars by night

over the wander- and wonderland.

O heart, in such days

what can your ringing wanderer’s song

express of your deep, deep joy.

Meadowsong silences the heart,

now words are stilled, while image after image

is drawn toward you, and fills you completely.



Liebeslieder Waltzer (Love-Song Waltzes), Op. 52

Johannes Brahms


Rede, Mädchen, allzu liebes (SATB)


Rede, Mädchen, allzu liebes,                                                    

Das mir in die Brust, die Kühle,                                                

Hat geschleudert mit dem Blicke                                             

Diese wilden Glutgefühle!                                                         


Willst du nicht dein Herz erweichen,                                      

Willst du, eine überfromme,                                                    

Rasten ohne traute Wonne,                                                     

Oder willst du, dass ich komme?                                              


Rasten ohne traute Wonne.                                                     

Nicht so bitter will ich büssen.                                                  

Komme nur, du schwarzes Auge.                                             

Komme wenn die Sterne grüssen.                                           



Speak, beloved maiden (SATB)

Speak, beloved maiden,whose mere glance filled my once cold heartwith such wild passion! Will your heart not soften?Will you, supremely chaste,live without such sweet joy,or will you let me come to you? To live without sweet joy.I would not bear such a bitter sacrifice.So come, my dark-eyed one,come when the stars bid you welcome. 

Am Gesteine rauscht die Flut (SATB)


Am Gesteine rauscht die Flut,                                                  

Heftig angetrieben;                                                                    

Wer da nicht zu seufzen weiss,                                                

Lernt es unter’m Lieben.



The waves dash themselves (SATB)

The waves dash themselves

violently against the rocks.

Whoever does not yet know to sigh at this

will learn it through Love.


O die Frauen (TB)


O die Frauen, o die Frauen,                                                      

wie sie Wonne tauen!                                                                

Wäre lang ein Mönch geworden,                                            

wären nicht die Frauen!                                                            



O women (TB) O women, women,what delights they bestow!If not for women,I’d have turned monk long ago!  

Wie des Abends schöne Röthe (SA)


Wie des Abends schöne Röthe                                                

Möcht’ ich arme Dirne glüh’n                                                   

Einem, Einem zu gefallen                                                           

Sonder Ende Wonne sprüh’n.                                                  



Like the beautiful blush of evening (SA)

If I, poor girl, could glow
like the beautiful blush of eveningand please one, just one boy– my bliss would know no end.  

Die grüne Hopfenranke (SATB)


Die grüne Hopfenranke,                                                            

sie schlängelt auf der Erde hin.                                                

Die junge, schöne Dirne,                                                           

so traurig ist ihr Sinn!                                                                 


Du höre, grüne Ranke!                                                              

Was hebst du dich nicht himmelwärts?                                  

Du höre, schöne Dirne!                                                             

Was ist so schwer dein Herz?                                                   


Wie höbe sich die Ranke,                                                          

der keine Stütze Kraft verleiht?                                               

Wie wäre die Dirne fröhlich,                                                    

wenn ihr das Liebste weit?                                                       



The green hops vine (SATB)

The green hops vinesnakes along the ground.The fair young maiden,how melancholy she is! Listen, you green vine!Why don’t you rise toward the heavens?Listen, you fair maiden!Why is your heart so heavy? How can the vine rise
if no supports lend it strength?How can the maiden be cheerfulwhen her beloved is so far away? 

Ein kleiner, hübscher Vogel nahm den Flug (SATB)


Ein kleiner, hübscher Vogel nahm den Flug                           

Zum Garten hin, da gab es Obst genug.                                  

Wenn ich ein hübscher, kleiner Vogel wär’,                          

Ich säumte nicht, ich täte so wie der.                                      


Leimruten-Arglist laudert an dem Ort;                                   

Der arme Vogel konnte nicht mehr fort.                                

Wenn ich ein hübscher, kleiner Vogel wär’,                          

Ich säumte doch, ich täte nicht wie der.                                 


Der Vogel kam, in eine schöne Hand,                                     

Da tat es ihm, dem Glücklichen, nicht an.                               

Wenn ich ein hübscher, kleiner Vogel wär’,                          

Ich säumte nicht, ich täte so wie der.                                      



A pretty little bird took flight (SATB)

A pretty little bird took flightto a garden filled with fruit.If I were a pretty little bird,
I wouldn’t hesitate, I’d do the same. Limed twigs were treacherously laid,and the poor bird could not fly away.If I were a pretty little bird,I would hesitate, I wouldn’t have done the same. The bird came into a lovely hand,which luckily did him no harm.If I were a pretty little bird,
I wouldn’t hesitate, I’d do the same. 

Wohl schön bewandt was es vorehe (S or A)


Wohl schön bewandt war es vorehe                                      

mit meinem Leben, mit meiner Liebe;                                   

durch eine Wand, ja, durch zehn Wände                              

erkannte mich des Freundes Sehe.                                         

Doch jetzo, wehe, wenn ich dem Kalten                                

auch noch so dicht vorm Auge stehe,                                     

es merkts sein Auge, sein Herze nicht.                                   



How beautiful it once was (S or A)
How beautiful it once was,my life, my love.Through a wall, yes even through ten wallsmy beloved’s gaze would recognize me.But now, alas, even standing directlybefore his cold eyes,neither they nor his heart know me. 

Wenn so lind dein Auge mir (SATB)


Wenn so lind dein Auge mir,                                                    

Und so lieblich schauet,

Jede letzte Trübe flieht,

Welche mich umgrauet.                                                            


Dieser Liebe schöne Glut,                                                         

Lass sie nicht verstieben!                                                          

Nimmer wird, wie ich, so treu,                                                 

Dich ein Andrer lieben!



When your gaze rests upon me (SATB)

When your gaze rests upon me, so gently and so lovingly,you put to flight
all my troubling sorrows. The tender glow of our love– may it never dim!There will never be another
who will love you as faithfully as me! 

Am Donaustrande, da steht ein Haus (SATB)


Am Donaustrande, da steht ein Haus,                                     

Da schaut ein rosiges Mädchen aus.                                       

Das Mädchen, es ist wohl gut gehegt,                                     

Zehn eiserne Riegel sind vor die Türe gelegt.                       


Zehn eiserne Riegel, das ist ein Spass;                                    

Die spreng’ ich als wären sie nur von Glas.                            

Am Donaustrande, da steht ein Haus,                                     

Da schaut ein rosiges Mädchen aus.                                       



A house stands on the Danube’s banks (SATB)

A house stands on the Danube’s banks,
a rosy-cheeked girl looks out.
The girl is well protected
by ten iron bolts on the door.

Ten iron bolts—what a joke.
I’ll break them as if they were of glass.
A house stands on the Danube’s banks,
a rosy-cheeked girl looks out.

O wie sanft die Quelle sich (SATB)


O wie sanft die Quelle sich                                                       

durch die Wiese windet!                                                           

O wie schön, wenn Liebe sich                                                  

zu der Liebe findet!                                                                    



O how peacefully the stream (SATB)

O how peacefully the streamwinds through the meadow!O how sweet it is when Love finds Love! 

Nein, es ist nicht auszukommen (SATB)


Nein, es ist nicht auszukommen                                               

Mit den Leuten;                                                                          

Alles wissen sie so giftig                                                             



Bin ich heiter, hegen soll ich                                                    

Lose Triebe;                                                                                 

Bin ich still, so heisst’s ich wäre                                                

Irr’ aus Liebe.                                                                               



No, it’s impossible to get along (SATB)
No, it’s impossible to get along
with people.They interpret everythingin the most evil light! If I’m happy, they say I have
impure thoughts;If I’m quiet, they say
I’m driven mad by love. 

Schlosser auf, und mache Schlösser (SATB)


Schlosser auf, und mache Schlösser,                                      

Schlösser ohne Zahl;                                                                  

denn die bösen Mäuler                                                             

will ich schliessen allzumal.                                                       



Locksmith, come make me some locks (SATB)

Locksmith, come make me some locks,countless locks;So I may close those malicious mouths once and for all. 

Vögelein durchrauscht die Luft (SA)


Vögelein durchrauscht die Luft,                                               

sucht nach einem Aste;                                                             

und das Herz, ein Herz, ein Herz begehrt’s,                           

wo es selig raste.                                                                         



The little bird flits across the sky (SA)

The little bird flits across the sky,in search of a branch;And the heart seeks a heart, the heart’s desire, where it may find blessed rest.   

Sieh, wie ist die Welle klar (TB)


Sieh, wie ist die Welle klar,                                                       

blickt der Mond hernieder!                                                      

Die du meine Liebe bist,                                                            

liebe du mich wieder!                                                                



See, the waves are so clear (TB)

See, the waves are so clear
as the moon shines down upon them.You are my beloved,return my love! 

Nachtigall, sie singt so schön (SATB)


Nachtigall, sie singt so schön,                                                    

wenn die Sterne funkeln.                                                          

Liebe mich, geliebtes Herz,                                                       

küsse mich im Dunkeln!                                                             



The nightingale sings so sweetly (SATB)

The nightingale sings so sweetly
when the stars twinkle.Love me, my dearest heart,kiss me in the dark! 

Ein dunkeler Schacht ist Liebe (SATB)


Ein dunkeler Schacht ist Liebe,                                                

ein gar zu gefährlicher Bronnen;                                             

da fiel ich hinein, ich Armer,                                                    

kann weder hören noch sehn,                                                 

nur denken an meine Wonnen,                                               

nur stöhnen in meinen Wehn.                                                 



Love is a dark well (SATB)

Love is a dark well,
a treacherous pit,into which I, poor man, have fallen.
Now I can neither hear nor see.I can only ponder my joys,only bemoan my grief. 

Nicht wandle, mein Licht, dort aussen (T)


Nicht wandle, mein Licht, dort aussen                                    

im Flurbereich!                                                                           

Die Füsse würden dir, die zarten,                                            

zu nass, zu weich.                                                                        


All überströmt sind dort die Wege,                                         

die Stege dir;                                                                               

so überreichlich tränte dorten                                                

das Auge mir.                                                                               



Do not wander, my love (T)

Do not wander, my love, out in the meadow!
It is too wet, too soft
for your tender feet.

The paths there are all flooded,
the bridges breachedby the many tears
my eyes have shed. 

Es bebet das Gesträuche (SATB)


Es bebet das Gesträuche,                                                          

gestreift hat es im Fluge                                                            

ein Vögelein.                                                                                

In gleicher Art erbebet                                                              

die Seele mir, erschüttert                                                         

von Liebe, Lust und Leide,                                                        

gedenkt sie dein.                                                                        


Text: Georg Friedrich Daumer

The bushes tremble (SATB)

The bushes tremble;
a little bird
has brushed by them in flight.
My soul trembles
in the same way, shaken
with love, desire, and pain
as it thinks of you.


All translations by Danielle Sinclair











Program Notes

Program Notes for Accordo, December 8, 2014

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In the dedication of his Opus 9, Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) referred to the three string trios as “the finest of his works.” Requisite puffery aside, Beethoven had reason to believe that they were his strongest compositions up to that point. He appeared to treat the genre of the string trio as the testing ground for his later work in the string quartet. As a result, these last trios—written in 1797 and 1798—have much in common with his first set of string quartets, long considered staples of chamber music repertoire. The String Trio No. 3 in G major, Op. 9, no. 1 begins with a broad Adagio introduction; the three instruments unfurl the opening gesture together in octaves. The violin proceeds with a graceful gesture, urged on by the other instruments, who then repeat the phrase themselves. The violin uses this gesture to segue into the spirited Allegro con brio. Runs pass freely between the three instruments, then come to a halt for an understated march theme. The movement explores the interactions of these musical ideas, with the segue gesture returning to usher in the harmonically surprising conclusion.

The violin takes the lead in the Adagio, ma non tanto, e cantabile, presenting a gently pulsing melody that soon becomes a tragic aria. The viola and cello echo phrases of the melody, and the violin steers the trio through several different emotions. The cello briefly takes center stage with a steady stream of notes, but the violin reassumes control. The carefree Scherzo dances nimbly, but the contrasting Trio section is less sure-footed as its tromping line stops and starts, requiring the Scherzo to step in again to move things forward. The breakneck Presto proceeds like a moto perpetuo, with a flurry of notes, but suddenly the violin and viola break free with a soaring, arching line. When they launch their flight a second time, the cello unleashes a barrage of arpeggios, driving the movement ever forward to a delightful ending.

Early in his career, Erwin Schulhoff (1894-1942) had every indication that he would eventually join the ranks of the greatest composers. A child prodigy born in Prague, Schulhoff caught the attention of Antonín Dvořák, who encouraged him to become a musician. Schulhoff studied piano and composition in Prague, Vienna, Paris, Leipzig, and Cologne, studying with the greatest teachers (among them Claude Debussy) and winning prestigious awards. He drew inspiration from disparate styles of Russian Romanticism, jazz, German Expressionism, Dadaism, and Neoclassicism, fusing them to create his idiosyncratic style. Unfortunately, his career suffered from forces beyond his control. As a Jewish composer, his works were deemed “degenerate” and subsequently banned by the Nazi regime. When the Nazis occupied Prague, Schulhoff sought and received citizenship from the Soviet Union, but he was arrested before he could emigrate. Schulhoff died in a concentration camp in Bavaria a little over a year later.

Schulhoff composed his Duo for Violin and Viola in 1925, dedicating it to fellow Czech composer Leos Janácek, whom he admired. The Moderato is in a rondo form, with a theme recurring throughout the movement. The violin begins, and the cello offers counterpoint; their musical language is initially modal, evoking simple folk melodies, but it soon becomes chromatic. The rhythms likewise become more complex and “Modern.” The movement features several extended string techniques, such as left-handed pizzicato—allowing the musicians to play bowed and plucked notes in quick succession or even simultaneously—and harmonics, in which the players lightly touch the strings to create whistling tones. Schulhoff uses this expanded palette to explore a variety of effects, but the folk-like rondo theme grounds the movement. The Zingaresca: Allegro giocoso refers to the so-called “Hungarian”/”Gypsy” styles, as the cello pounds out a beat and the violin bursts into a fiddle tune. They swap roles throughout the energetic movement, with the cello occasionally ringing out the melody as the violin keeps pulse with slapping chords. Both instruments adopt mutes for the Andantino, veiling their tone as they exchange phrases of the haunting melody, each supporting the other with a delicate string of pizzicato. The Moderato finale calls back to the opening movement by echoing its rondo theme before crafting it into something new, with more urgency driving toward the wild conclusion.

Alexander Glazunov (1865-1936) belonged to the generation of Russian composers after the “Mighty Five” brought Nationalism to the forefront of Russian music but before Modernism took hold. In fact, Glazunov had tangible ties to both worlds: as a teenager, he studied privately with Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, and as the director of the Saint Petersburg Conservatory, he taught Dmitri Shostakovich. His musical style is rooted in Russian Romanticism, as is evident in his String Quintet in A major, Op. 39. Composed in 1891, the quintet features two cellos instead of the more conventional doubling of the viola, creating a darker, richer sound. The sole viola begins the Allegro with a lilting melody, but each instrument has the opportunity to carry the tune as the rest of the ensemble provides lush harmonic support. The first cello emerges with a contrasting theme, a stately yet soaring line placed in the cello’s upper register. The movement showcases Glazunov’s talent for counterpoint as he weaves together five parts without relegating any one to an accompanimental role for too long, culminating in a forceful conclusion. The Scherzo: Allegro Moderato begins with the viola playing a drone, over which the two violins exchange playful pizzicato phrases. The cellos join in the fun, keeping the mood light, and the quintet settles into a chipper march pattern. For the contrasting Trio passage, the march trudges as the cellos pluck out plodding chords and the upper strings’ meandering lines intertwine. Once again, the viola holds onto a drone, and Glazunov evokes Russian folk styles with a fiddle melody over a mournful, sighing accompaniment. The cheery pizzicato scherzo returns, but the folk-like sounds reappear just before the end of the movement. The second cello initiates the Andante sostenuto with a rhapsodic solo that serves as the introduction; the first violin presents the passionate theme of the movement, and the first cello responds in kind. Suddenly, the mood brightens as the first cello rolls merrily along, but the heavy sentiment of the opening ultimately overtakes the movement. The Allegro moderato finale begins like a feisty Russian folk dance, but Glazunov reveals a more sophisticated plan when the viola initiates a fugue based on the rustic melody. As the other instruments enter one by one, the texture becomes thick and complicated. Suddenly, everything falls into place for an idyllic Più tranquillo passage before the dance takes off. Again, Glazunov shows off his technique by shifting the emphasis of the meter while maintaining the boisterous momentum, concluding in triumph.

Program Notes for Valentina Lisitsa, March 11

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Valentina Lisitsa, piano

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 7:30 pm


Join us at 6:45pm in the Marzitelli Foyer for a pre-concert talk.

Parking Alert! 

Please allow extra time for travel and parking. Downtown St. Paul will be more congested than usual because of the Minnesota Wild hockey game at 7pm at Xcel Center. 


Program Notes

Chaconne for Solo Violin

J. S. Bach (1685–1750), arr. Busoni


J. S. Bach needs no introduction, but Ferruccio Busoni may. Busoni’s father, a clarinetist, was so convinced of his son’s destiny that he christened him Ferruccio-Dante-Michelangelo-Benvenuto. The boy played Mozart’s C-minor Piano Concerto at seven and gave his first full recital at nine. Through a peripatetic childhood, Busoni received only a scattershot education, studying for a time in Vienna and Leipzig. It was early exposure to the music of Bach and later friendship with composers like Delius, Mahler and Sibelius that set him on a path of self-education. By 1897, the probable date of this arrangement, Busoni had lived in Helsinki, St. Petersburg and New York City, and had settled in Berlin, where he was acknowledged as a leading virtuoso.

Busoni’s recitals often included Bach transcriptions, and his name became so entwined with Bach’s that Busoni’s wife, during a stay in New York, was often addressed as “Mrs. Bach-Busoni.”

A chaconne is a set of variations, usually in triple meter, on a repeated bass line or harmony. It was a favorite vehicle for improvisation in the Baroque era. Michael Steinberg has described Bach’s chaconne as “a compendium of string possibilities, much as the Goldberg Variations are an encyclopedic compendium of keyboard technique. But more marvelous still is Bach’s mastery of architecture: this is one of those pieces—the opening choruses of the Saint Matthew Passion and the B-minor Mass are others—where he works on a scale never before attempted, creating a line that creates incredibly powerful cycles of tension and release.”

Busoni proceeds with both reverence and no little temerity to move Bach from the string to the keyboard medium. Although one misses the singing power of the violin, in other ways—dynamic range, pitch spectrum—the move is enriching. In places, Bach simply writes chords with the instruction arpeggio, intending the player to improvise a texture. Here, Busoni’s pianistic solutions are ingenious and dazzling. At the still point, a poetic move to D major, Busoni adds quasi tromboni, evidence of the “piano orchestration” for which he was famous. Two variations later, that same trombone line reappears, added by Busoni, but completely appropriate. And where Bach ends his D-minor Chaconne with a unison, Busoni chooses a ringing major chord.

Program note by David Evan Thomas.


Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Opus 13, Pathétique

Ludwig van Beethoven

(b. Bonn, 1770; d. Vienna, 1827)


Standing on its own rather than in a set, the distinctively titled “Grande Sonate pathétique” was published in Vienna in 1799. It is dedicated to Prince Carl Lichnowsky, who had been a pupil and friend of Mozart and became, in Beethoven’s own words, “one of my truest friends and patrons.” In his earlier Vienna years, Beethoven lived for a time in the Lichnowsky house; other dedications to the Prince include the Piano Trios, Opus 1; the Piano Sonata in A-flat, Opus 26; and the Second Symphony.

C minor is Beethoven’s most characteristic minor key for full-length works; prior to such celebrated embodiments as the Third Piano Concerto, Fifth Symphony, Coriolan Overture, and last piano sonata, it was also the key of a piano trio (in Opus 1), a string trio (in Opus 9), a violin sonata (in Opus 30)—and, of course, the “Sonate pathétique.” This is the first of Beethoven’s

piano sonatas to begin with a slow introduction—which, unusually, recurs before the development and again before the brief coda. The pounding urgency of the main Allegro involves an accompaniment of tremolo octaves that has been criticized (by the noted Swiss Beethovenian Edwin Fischer, among others) as more orchestral than pianistic in effect, but the hand-crossings of

the second subject are nothing if not idiomatic to the instrument.

The warm A-flat major of the Adagio cantabile’s celebrated melody is twice questioned by episodes beginning in minor keys and variously recalling aspects of the first movement; to each episode, no other reply is made than the repetition of the melody itself, except for a quickening of the middle voice’s divisions in the final statement. The concluding rondo (there is no scherzo) begins with a theme recalling the first movement’s second subject, while an episode in A-flat major grows from a chain of fourths, like that found in the second phrase of the slow-movement melody.

Program note by David Hamilton.


Sonata in D minor, Opus 31, No. 2, Tempest

Ludwig van Beethoven


In 1801, Beethoven had told his friend, the violinist Wenzel Krumpholtz, that he was “only a little satisfied with his work thus far. From today on I shall take a new path.” Historians and critics have been much exercised trying to determine what, precisely, had in mind, but generally it is clear that Beethoven is now entering a new phase in his creative life, that his compositions are inclined to be bigger, bolder, more dramatic. Not even the fairly casual listener is going to mistake many of Beethoven’s works from the first decade of the new century for Haydn or Mozart.

It was the beginning of a period of unparalleled fertility for him. Between 1802 and 1808 he would write the five symphonies from the Second through the Pastoral; the three Rasumovsky string quartets and the two piano trios, Opus 70; four violin sonatas, including the Kreutzer, and the Cello Sonata, opus 69; six piano sonatas, among them the Waldstein and the Appassionata, the Third and Fourth piano concertos, the Violin Concerto, and the Triple Concerto; the opera Fidelio in its original form and its first revision; the oratorio Christ on the Mount of Olives, the C-major Mass, and the Choral Fantasy; to mention only the big works.

In 1802, he had reproached himself for indolence, but in better moods he was aware of its being a special time in his life: “For a while now I have been gaining more than ever in physical strength and in moral strength, too. Every day I come closer to my goal, which I can sense but don’t know how to describe.” To another friend he wrote: “I live only in my notes, and with one work barely finished, the next is already begun. The way I work now I often find myself working on three, four things at once.” Energy for work and for life was limitless. If, inescapably aware of his advancing deafness, he know the despair that speaks in the will that he wrote at Heiligenstadt in October 1802-—“As the leaves of autumn fall and are withered—so likewise has my hope been blighted . . .; even the high courage—which has so often inspired me in the beautiful days of summer—has disappeared”—he knew also the state of mind in which he could say that he would “seize fate by the throat.”

The D-minor Sonata, Opus 31, No. 2, one of the great ones, is one of the works of the period imbued with a tragic vision. The three sonatas of Opus 31 were written in 1801–02 and published in 1803 by Nägeli of Zurich, who enraged Beethoven not merely by putting out a printing full of errors but even more by contributing some measures of his own (Beethoven would not have felt any better for knowing that Nägeli had done Bach the same favor.). Nägeli’s edition has no opus number: 31 first appears on the composer-authorized “édition tres correct” issued by Simrock in Bonn later in 1803, though, confusingly, a Viennese publisher simultaneously printed the work as Opus 29, a number preempted the year before by the C-major String Quintet.

The dramatic D-minor Sonata stands between two pieces of more relaxed temper. Its very first gesture is amazing, a chord of the kind often used to introduce operatic recitatives, but here unfolded very slowly and in pianissimo. But what ensues is a scurrying Allegro, halted almost at once by an expansive cadence. This play of violent contrast gives way to a forward-thrusting music of extreme concentration; music, moreover, in which minor-mode harmonies are scarcely ever relieved except at the recurrences of the introductory broken chord. The relentless drive is unprecedented in Beethoven’s music: It is of this movement that he said, “The piano must break!” The seeming promise of the opening chord to prepare a recitative is eventually redeemed in an astonishing, darkly mysterious passage in which a solitary voice speaks as though from an immense distance, the music washed in dissonance by the pedal. (This pedal effect, though not the combination of pedal and recitative, Beethoven had seen in one of Haydn’s late and marvelous piano sonatas.)

The Adagio, too, opens with a softly spreading major chord. Here it is the beginning of a noble music whose repose is threatened by the undercurrent of distant drumming. The third movement is a restless and haunted piece, filled with pathos until that final moment at which it seems simply to disappear off the bottom of the keyboard.

The Sonata’s name comes from Anton Schindler, the self-important liar and forger who was friend, social secretary, and general amanuensis to Beethoven from 1819 to 1824 and again in the last few months of the composer’s life. In the biography he published in 1840, Schindler tells of asking Beethoven the meaning of the D-minor Sonata and being told to read Shakespeare’s Tempest. Here is Sir Donald Tovey on the subject: Though the two works have not a single course of events on any parallel lines and though each contains much that would be violently out of place in the other. . . there is a mood that is common to both.

Beethoven would never have posed as a Shakespeare scholar; but neither would he have been misled by the fairy-tale elements in Shakespeare’s last play into regarding them as consisting only of mellow sunset and milk of human kindness. With all the tragic power of its first movement the D-minor Sonata is, like Prospero, almost as far beyond tragedy as it is beyond mere foul weather. And it will do you no harm to think of Miranda at bars 31-38 of the slow movement (the dolce and drumless second melody); but people who want to identify Ariel and Caliban and the castaways, good and villainous, may as well confine their attention to the exploits of the Scarlet Pimpernel when the Eroica or the Fifth Symphony is being played.

Program note by Michael Steinberg. Reprinted by kind permission of Jorja Fleezanis.


Sonata in B minor

Franz Liszt

(b. Raiding, Austria, 1811; d. Bayreuth, 1886)


Whenever the boy Liszt was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, he would point to a portrait of Beethoven and say: “Like him.” Liszt gave the first public performance of Beethoven’s imposing Hammerklavier sonata. Without Liszt’s generosity, a Beethoven Monument might never have been unveiled in Bonn. Liszt even possessed the great composer’s death mask. When it came time to write his only sonata, Liszt naturally turned to Beethoven—particularly the Ninth Symphony—as a model. We speak of “sonata form” as if it were as evident as a square or a circle, but in the mid-19th century the idea was still being codified. As Beethoven had expanded the form to include recitative, fugue and the transformations of themes, Liszt combined sonata with fantasy to produce a thirty-minute single-movement play of unity and contrast.

The Sonata in B minor was finished in 1853 and is dedicated to Robert Schumann. But Schumann, soon to be committed to an asylum, never heard the piece. Twenty-year-old Brahms did, at The Altenburg, the home Liszt shared with Princess Carolyne.

William Mason recalls that “casting a glance at Brahms as he played, Liszt found him dozing in his chair.” Some have read a Faustian theme into the Sonata; others have found a Christian testament, with the grandioso theme proclaiming “Crux fideles!” Liszt was silent on the matter.

The sonata begins as if ending, with what Liszt called “muffled timpani strokes.” There are three highly contrasting ideas: a slow, descending scale, a wiry, agitated line, a series of quick “hammer strokes.” A culminating fourth idea rises, grandioso. Liszt’s themes serve multiple purposes. A chant fragment rises to heights of passion; hammered notes turn into a tender and pleading fifth theme. A simple theme in F-sharp major introduces the slow movement. The fugato in B-flat minor stands in for a scherzo.

Most poetically, after fireworks we hear a mystical coda in the major mode. 

Program note by David Evan Thomas.

Program Announced for Schubert Club Mix: LIAISONS: Re-Imagining Sondheim from the Piano

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The Liaisons Project is a landmark commissioning and concert project, conceived by concert pianist Anthony de Mare, that has invited 36 of the world’s foremost contemporary composers to “re-imagine” a song by legendary musical theater composer Stephen Sondheim. 

The result is a brand new world-class piano repertory (LIAISONS: Re-Imagining Sondheim from the Piano) that reveals Sondheim’s influence across multiple genres and generations. Composers hail from seven countries, range in age from 32 to 76, and span the worlds of classical, pop, jazz, opera, musical theater and film. 

Program for April 13, 2014 at Aria, Minneapolis


(All works based on material by Stephen Sondheim)

A Little Night Fughetta (2010) William Bolcom (after “Anyone Can Whistle” & “Send in the Clowns”)

Every Day A Little Death (2008/2010) Ricky Ian Gordon

The Demon Barber (2010) Kenji Bunch (A Fantasia on “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd”)

Johanna in Space (2014) Duncan Sheik

Color and Light (2012) Nico Muhly

Finishing the Hat –Two Pianos (2010) Steve Reich

The Ladies Who Lunch (2010) David Rakowski

Everybody’s Got the Right (2012) Michael Daugherty


Now (2012) Mary Ellen Childs

(after “Now/Later/Soon” – A Little Night Music)

Send in the Clowns (2011) Ethan Iverson

No One Is Alone (2010) Fred Hersch

I Think About You (2010) Paul Moravec

I’m Excited. No You’re Not. (2010) Jake Heggie (after “A Weekend in the Country” – A Little Night Music)


Learn more about this performance and get tickets here

Program Notes for Gidon Kremer with Kremerata Baltica, February 8

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Tonight’s program features music by Dmitri Shostakovich, whose entire career was conducted within the confines of the Soviet Union. Opening each half is a work by a close friend of Shostakovich. First we hear music by the lesser-known Moisey Weinberg, a confidante and devotee of Shostakovich from the 1940s on. The second half begins with a brilliant early work by Benjamin Britten. Shostakovich met Britten in 1960, and later praised “the strength and sincerity of his talent, its surface simplicity and the intensity of its emotional effect.” The two composers enjoyed a warm relationship that transcended the Cold War and lasted until death.

Concertino for Violin and Strings, Opus 42 Moisey Weinberg (1919-1996)

That his name takes various forms may have something to do with his present obscurity in this part of the world. The first name may appear as Moisey or Mieczysław; the last may be spelled Weinberg, Vainberg or Vaynberg. Whatever the orthography, Moisey Weinberg was a prolific and inventive composer, a virtuoso pianist, and by all accounts, a mensch. Let us hope we’ll be hearing more of Weinberg’s twenty-some symphonies, seventeen string quartets and seven operas, one of which is a setting of Dostoyevsky’s novel, The Idiot, unveiled last May in Mannheim.

Weinberg was born in Poland. At the recommendation of famed pianist Joseph Hoffman, he was to have studied piano in the U.S., but with the outbreak of World War II, Weinberg fled to the Soviet Union. He married the daughter of Solomon Mikhoels, the famed director of the Jewish Theatre and chair of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee during the War. Through Mikhoels, he met Shostakovich. “It was as if I had been born anew,” he later said. “Although I took no lessons from him, Dmitri Shostakovich was the first person to whom I would show each of my new works.” Weinberg was arrested on charges of “Jewish bourgeois nationalism” in February 1953, after the infamous “Doctor’s plot” in which trumped-up charges were brought against nine doctors, six of them Jews, for conspiring against the state. He imprisoned for three months and would have surely been killed if Shostakovich had not intervened on his behalf.

Weinberg sings in a frank, transparent style, with simple accompaniment patterns and a deep but not overwhelming sadness. A comparison with Shostakovich is inevitable, but Weinberg’s tone is distinctive, the voice of one who has suffered, but has neither despaired nor lapsed into irony. This “little concerto” opens with pure song: four descending notes floating on lightly-brushed strings, and what delicate feeling they convey! The soloist introduces the somber slow movement with a cadenza, and the melancholy Allegro moderato waltzes to an ominous conclusion. The Concertino was written in 1948, the year of the Zhdanov decrees that tainted Shostakovich and others with the “formalist” label (more below), but it was never performed. The same year, Weinberg’s father-in-law, Solomon Mikhoels, was murdered in Minsk on Stalin’s orders.

Violin Sonata, Opus 134, orch. Pushkarev/Zinman Dmitri Shostakovich (1906–1975)

The Sonata for Violin and Piano, finished in October 1968, is the longest, and arguably the most daunting of the three sonatas for stringed instrument and piano by Shostakovich. As might be expected of a work “dedicated to the 60th birthday of David Oistrakh,” this is a big piece. The Ukrainian virtuoso was a towering musical figure in the Soviet Union, and many composers, including Prokofiev and Myaskovsky, dedicated works to him. Shostakovich wrote two violin concertos for Oistrakh. The 2005 orchestration by Andrei Pushkarev and Michail Zinman—in effect, a third concerto—places the music in a larger arena, with percussion strokes echoing those in Shostakovich’s own Fourteenth Symphony.

Shostakovich used twelve-note themes in nine late compositions, among them the Violin Concerto No. 2, three of the last quartets and the present Sonata. He never used them in a rigorous, Schoenbergian sense, seldom used them harmonically, and never used them systematically throughout a movement. All twelve tones of the chromatic scale are sounded in the first three bars of the Andante. The violin’s new stepwise theme bears Shostakovich’s musical initials: D-eS-C-H (the notes D-E-flat-C-B). A second subject on D brings a lighter, more sardonic tone. Shostakovich is the most metaphorical of composers. What to make then of the passage marked tranquillo, with its whistling-wind effect? Or of the rustling violin bells at movement’s close?

The modestly-titled Allegretto is in fact a brutal three-part scherzo in E-flat minor, far removed from the G/D tonality of the first movement. As relentless as it is difficult to play, it calls to mind the Stalin portrait in the composer’s Tenth Symphony. Six vigorous major chords announce the middle section.

After a brusque introduction, the Largo unfolds as a passacaglia—continuous variations on an eleven-bar theme that is first stated pizzicato, then varied in two large waves, culminating in a towering tutti punctuated by bass drum, then a violin cadenza. The whistling wind returns, then spectral bells.

Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge, Opus 10 Benjamin Britten (1913–1976)

This singular tribute to a beloved teacher is also one of the jewels of the string orchestra repertoire, and one of the more astonishing compositional feats by a composer of any age. It originated with a commission from Boyd Neel, who in addition to serving as House Surgeon and Physician at St. George’s Hospital, London had formed his own chamber orchestra. On short notice, the Boyd Neel Orchestra had been invited to appear at the Salzburg Festival, with the proviso that a new work by an English composer be on the program. Neel had noted 24-year-old Benjamin Britten’s compositional facility in the film studio. “I immediately asked him whether he would take on the Salzburg commission,” Neel writes, “and in ten days’ time he appeared at my house with the complete work sketched out.”

Britten had a sculptor’s knack for knowing where to strike the marble. He conceived a forward-looking work that showcases the colors of the string orchestra as well as his own considerable craft. The scoring, for solo quartet and double string choir, recalls at once the Tallis Fantasia by Vaughan Williams and the Introduction and Allegro by Elgar. And in his choice of a Theme, he pays homage to his teacher Frank Bridge (1879–1941), a distinguished composer overshadowed by those two.

The Variations rolls out like a film. Britten seems to begin at the end, with a bold chord that quick-cuts to a fanfare of E major over C. Then we zoom in on a deceptively simple quartet texture. A good set of variations begins with a sturdy theme, and Britten has chosen the lovely, but unassuming first page of an idyll for string quartet by Bridge, composed in 1906. Britten was certainly drawn to the first “chord”: C major and E major sounded together. It’s less a chord than an unprepared dissonance that draws your attention suddenly to an intimate conversation. The bass moves from C to F-sharp, a tritone relationship that figures prominently in the variations. This opening phrase points first to E minor, then to distant E-flat major. Note the graceful violin arabesque on repetition; it will see lots of action. Then there’s the bobbing waltz rhythm, marked “with tenderness”by Bridge. The opening Adagio explores the tritone relationship of the first two chords and the arabesque. Then its off on a cavalcade of styles and techniques. The work nods slyly to the European tradition with examples of chant, aria, bourée, funeral march, and a particularly cheeky and macabre Viennese waltz. Coloristic effects for strings abound, notably the quasi-guitar technique, and a combination of eerie harmonics and high pizzicato that belongs as much to science-fiction as to the timeless world of chant. The Fugue divides into fifteen parts and quotes from Bridge’s work. Teacher must have been proud—and more than a little envious.

Program notes copyright © 2013 by David Evan Thomas.


Accordo Program Notes for October 7, 2013

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These program notes are for the Accordo performance on October 7, 2013.

Of the six string quintets by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Quintet no. 4 in G minor, K. 516 is the most somber. He completed the quintet on May 16, 1787, while his father Leopold was gravely ill; the elder Mozart died less than two weeks later. It is perhaps simplistic to tie the sorrow expressed in the quintet to the grief Mozart experienced during the time he composed it; nevertheless, an inescapable gloom pervades the work. In all of his string quintets, Mozart expands the standard complement of a string quartet with the addition of a second viola, rather than a second cello or a string bass. This choice creates symmetry in the opening of the fourth quintet, as Mozart introduces the tragic opening theme of the Allegro by dividing the quintet into two smaller sub-ensembles. The first phrases of the melody occur in the first violin, accompanied by the second violin and first viola. The first viola takes over the melody, accompanied by the second viola and cello. Rather than following the convention of modulating to a different key, the second theme begins in the home key of G minor. Before long, however, it meanders into major harmonies, producing more cheerful versions of the previous material. After a development section in which gestures from both themes pass between all the instruments, the recapitulation revisits the opening. This time, however, the second theme does not wander into the realm of major, eliminating any hint of optimism.

With its heavy, disruptive chords, the Menuetto is rawer than most minuets. It gives only the slightest hint of the refined nature of the courtly dance before succumbing to despair. The contrasting Trio section lightens the mood as the carefree melody glides over the bar lines, but the weighty minuet inevitably returns. The third movement, Adagio, ma non troppo, features a hesitant melody in the first violin gently urged on by the other instruments. It becomes a delicate dialogue between the first violin and cello, often punctuated by silence. The first violin proposes an anguished descending line, but with the assistance of the first viola, that gesture becomes almost playful. The movement ends contentedly, wafting upward before the gentle final chords. The last movement begins with a despondent Adagio; the first violin launches into an operatic lament, supported by pizzicato cello and a trudging accompaniment from the inner instruments. After the tragic cavatina draws to a close, the mood shifts abruptly for a chipper Allegro that seems entirely untouched by the dark sentiments which pervaded the entire rest of the quintet. The skipping rondo melody recurs several times in the finale, alternating with episodes that maintain the bright mood.

As Johannes Brahms composed his String Quintet in G major, Opus 111 on vacation in the Austrian spa town of Bad Ischel in the summer of 1890, he fully intended for it to be his last chamber work. Upon submitting his final revision, he informed his publisher, “With this note you can take leave of my music, because it is high time to stop.” As it turned out, Brahms would write more chamber music after meeting clarinetist Richard Mühlfeld, who inspired Brahms’s clarinet trio (composed in 1891), clarinet quintet (also 1891), and two clarinet sonatas (1894). Even so, the composer’s second string quintet serves as a triumphant culmination of a substantial career, as the work encompasses the diverse musical styles that Brahms combined to create his idiosyncratic compositional voice. Like Mozart, Brahms opts to double the viola rather than the cello in his string quintets. The Allegro non troppo, ma con brio launches the quintet with vibrant oscillations in the violins and violas, accompanying a sweeping theme in the cello. Brahms originally intended this opening for a never-completed fifth symphony; even with reduced instrumentation, the opening maintains a broad, orchestral character. Elements of the opening theme seep into the other instrumental parts, fragmenting the melody and clearing the way for the second theme. This theme has a distinctly Viennese flavor as the violas play a waltz-like duet against an elegantly restrained accompaniment. As the violins take over the duet, the character becomes more distinctly “Brahmsian,” with complex rhythmic interplay and lush harmonies. The second violin settles into a gently lilting melody, which the first violin lifts higher to ethereal effect. The development section begins by extending this melody, but it hovers uncertainly before plunging into turmoil. Gestures from the opening of the movement are exaggerated, making an already-dramatic statement even more impassioned, but all is restored for the recapitulation when the cello reclaims the first theme. The coda hints at a sedate conclusion, but the movement has been too momentous to end quietly.

The Adagio presents a brief series of variations; the theme falls neatly into three sections: a mournful, folk-like melody introduced by the first viola, a graceful duet by the violins, and then a cadenza-like turn from the viola. With each variation, the components of the theme become more complex and rhapsodic, but the movement ends with the initial simplicity of the opening melody, this time played by the first violin. The third movement, Un poco allegretto, features a plaintive waltz with a sighing melody in the first violin. The contrasting middle section of the movement features a genial exchange between the violas and the violins, with the cello providing a rolling accompaniment. Though the somber waltz inevitably returns, the conclusion hints at the kinder aspects of the middle section. The finale, Vivace ma non troppo presto, delves into the “gypsy” style that Brahms employed so often in his career. It begins with conspiratorial rumblings in the violas and cello, but the addition of the violins cause it to erupt into a boisterous dance. Structurally, the movement is a rondo, with the initial tune recurring several times, but its character is heavily influenced by the csárdás, a Hungarian folk dance in duple meter. Like the csárdás, the movement ends in a much faster tempo than it begins, with a frenzied drive to the conclusion.