SCHUBERT: Lied Edition 22 - Poets of Sensibility, Vol. 5
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THE DEUTSCHE SCHUBERT-LIED-EDITION 22
Poets of Sensibility, Vol. 5
In 1816 Franz Schubert, together with his circle of friends, decided to publish a collection of all the songs which he had so far written. Joseph Spaun, whom Schubert had known since his school days, tried his (and Schubert's) luck in a letter to the then unquestioned Master of the German language, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:
A selection of German songs will constitute the beginning of this edition; it will consist of eight volumes. The first two (the first of which, as an example, you will find in our letter) contains poems written by your Excellency, the third, poetry by Schiller, the fourth and fifth, works by Klopstock, the sixth by Mathison, Hölty, Salis etc., the seventh and eighth contain songs by Ossian, whose works are quite exceptional.
The Deutsche Schubert-Lied-Edition follows the composer's original concept. All Schubert's Lieder, over 700 songs, will be grouped according to the poets who inspired him, or according to the circle of writers, contemporaries, members of certain literary movements and so on, whose works Schubert chose to set to music. Fragments and alternative settings, providing their length and quality make them worth recording, and works for two or more voices with piano accompaniment will also make up a part of the edition.
Schubert set the poetry of over 115 writers to music. He selected poems from classical Greece, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, from eighteenth-century German authors, early Romantics, Biedermeier poets, his contemporaries, and, of course, finally, poems by Heinrich Heine, although sadly the two never met.
The entire edition is scheduled for completion by 2008. Thanks to the Neue Schubert Ausgabe (New Schubert Edition), published by Bärenreiter, which uses primary sources - autograph copies wherever possible - the performers have been able to benefit from the most recent research of the editorial team. For the first time, the listener and the interested reader can follow Schubert's textual alterations and can appreciate the importance the written word had for the composer.
The project's Artistic Advisor is the pianist Ulrich Eisenlohr, who has chosen those German-speaking singers who represent the élite of today's young German Lieder singers, performers whose artistic contribution, he believes, will stand the test of time.
Empfindsamkeit: The Expression of Feeling in Late Eighteenth Century German Literature
The literary trend of Empfindsamkeit (the sentimental) made a decisive mark on human emotion and thought in the Enlightenment. The emancipation of the bourgeoisie and its new self-awareness led to an intensive involvement with the individual personality and questions about the essence of self-identity. Answers to these questions, however, were sought not only in intellectual circles. Something surprising happened: in the period when reason and logic were at their highest, interest in the world of emotion began to increase more and more. From Russia to France, from England to Italy, people in the eighteenth century listened to their feelings and explored in soliloquy their own being. Without the Enlightenment Empfindsamkeit, with its deeply grounded reflection of the self, would probably not have developed, and the strong tendency to emotion is in the end to be attributed to the 'cold rationalism' of the Enlightenment, since it at the same time released longing for warmth of feeling.
It is above all in England that the flourishing of the sentimental is clearly to be noticed. In Samuel Richardson's moral and family novels, the idylls of James Thomson, the Night Thoughts of Edward Young, filled with melancholy and sadness, and the Ossian poems of James Macpherson the new literary ideals were brought to life. They released a flood of enthusiasm, quickly developed in Germany. The young Friedrich von Matthisson, for example, involved himself intensively with English literature and was fascinated particularly by Thomas Gray's Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard. One work of English 'sentimentality' won particular importance in the German version of this literary trend. The word empfindsam was first used in 1757 by Victoria Gottsched, who, together with her famous husband Johann Christoph Gottsched, had become one of the most important translators and writers of the time. When in 1768 Johann Joachim Bode translated into German Laurence Sterne's A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy, his friend Gotthold Ephraim Lessing advised him to translate the word 'sentimental' with 'empfindsam'. In this way the conception of Empfindsamkeit came to signify a literary period.
Together with the many plays and novels written in the period, poetry became the most important form of expression. With its concentration on the world of emotion and sentiment it corresponded to central human concerns - it was not the narrative that was in the foreground but feeling, which was released through a narrative. In soliloquy or in addressing a poetic 'thou' the poetic inner identity was revealed. It was drawn from the cult of soul and friendship of Pietism, which, as 'practical Christianity of the heart' (Gero von Wilpert), encouraged men of all sections of the population to practice their faith individually. People freed themselves from orthodox dogma and sought God in the subjective realities of their lives. Nature too was an important source of experience of the divine. In the sunset, the song of a bird or the rushing of the wind - not in church - people traced the omnipresence of God and felt themselves part of this creation. 'Im Lenzhauch webt der Geist des Herrn! / Sieh! Auferstehung nah' und fern, / ' Sieh! Jugendfülle, Schönheitsmeer, / Und Wonnetaumel ringsumher!' ('In the breath of spring weaves the Spirit of God! / See! Resurrection near and far, / See! Filled with youth, sea of beauty, / And rapture of delight all around!), Matthisson writes in his Naturgenuss (Enjoyment of Nature). This euphoria, however, is offset by the central themes of sorrow and melancholy, the loss of a loved one and the approach of death. Answers to these existential questions of life were always sought and found in faith.
Franz Schubert and the Poet Ludwig Theobul Kosegarten
Many poets of the German Empfindsamkeit, who at the time were read with equal enthusiasm in aristocratic salons and in the rooms of the bourgeoisie, are today often only a subject for specialists in literature. Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock is among the better known poets, but names such as those of Friedrich von Matthisson and Ludwig Theobul Kosegarten are much less familiar. These poets were well known to Schubert and even as a schoolboy he felt himself drawn to the poetry of Empfindsamkeit. All their themes, from enlightened pantheism to melancholy reminders of death, were also his, subjects with which he was involved throughout his life. The 'poets of sensibility' play the most important part above all in his early years as a composer, together with the classical poetry of Goethe and Schiller.
Ludwig Theobul Kosegarten (1758-1818) studied theology at Greifswald an