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SCHUBERT: Lied Edition 6 - Schiller, Vol. 1

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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 unquestionable 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 2005. 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.


Franz Peter Schubert (1797-1828)

Settings of poems by Schiller, Vol. 1

When in 1787 Friedrich Schiller first visited Weimar, the residence of Duke Karl August and a place so important in German cultural history, it was because of the ‘three Weimar giants’, Christoph Martin Wieland, the elegant poet of the rococo, who soon took to his heart his Swabian fellow-countryman, 26 years his junior, the court preacher Johann Gottfried Herder, who had made a name for himself by his collection of folk-songs, and, naturally, the youngest and most charismatic of these ‘giants’, Goethe, who was then on his famous Italian journey. Today Goethe and Schiller are the embodiment of the Weimar classical period, to which the double statue in the Theaterplatz bears witness.

Schiller was the son of an officer and was born in 1759 at Marbach-am-Neckar, not far from the magnificent capital of Württemberg at Ludwigsburg. From 1773 to 1780 he attended the strongly disciplined military Pflanzschule, later the Hohe Karlsschule, an elite academy established by Duke Karl Eugen of Württemberg, who showed no compunction in recruiting talented boys from his dukedom. Schiller next turned to the study of law and then of medicine. Poetry in this academy so cut off from the outer world was for him, with his love of freedom, a means of expressing his hatred of tyranny and an important outlet. Here his first dramatic work took shape. With the sensational first performance of Die Räuber (The Robbers) in Mannheim at the beginning of 1782, a work that soon became a symbol of Sturm und Drang theatre, Schiller won fame overnight, although he was for a long time unable to secure his material position through his work as a poet.

Schiller had been forbidden by the Duke to write and was obliged to escape by night to Mannheim in the Palatinate, but his hopes of gaining a foothold there as a theatre poet came to nothing. There followed years in the circle of Christian Gottfried Körner in Leipzig and Dresden. Meanwhile Schiller had devoted himself to historical studies and in these he became absorbed during his first period in Weimar. As a result in May 1789, when he was not yet thirty, he became, surely unusually, professor of history at Jena, an appointment in which Privy Counsellor Goethe seems to have had a hand. In 1791, a year after his marriage to Charlotte von Lengefeld, the first attacks of a severe illness made themselves felt. This adversely affected his activity as a teacher and from then onwards cast a shadow over Schiller’s life, since he knew that he had not many years left him. For some time he had put aside his work as a poet. His intensive exchanges with Kant, that began in 1791, led finally to his series of philosophical and aesthetic writings and it seemed to him that through these studies he must find the way back to poetic composition. It was only in 1795 that Schiller wrote a poem again, the first since 1789. With Wallenstein, which took on the dimensions of a great trilogy, he won back, in work that took from 1796 to 1799, a position in the field of drama. His return to poetic composition was certainly stimulated by his increasingly close friendship with Goethe. In 1799 Schiller returned to Weimar to have experience, as he himself said, of the theatre and in his last years he devoted himself above all to the continuation of his work as a dramatist, culminating in Wilhelm Tell, his last completed play. He died on 9th May, 1805.

Schiller’s poetry never won the same fame as that of Goethe, apart, of course, from the great ballads such as Der Taucher (The Diver) and Die Bürgschaft (The Pledge), in earlier times learned by heart, which are firmly established as an essential part of German literature. Schiller himself, in his maturity, self-critically compared himself with the ‘Weimar giant’ in the often quoted complaint ‘In comparison with Goethe I am and remain a poetic nobody’. Today difficulties in dealing with Schiller’s poetry cannot be dismissed, and his work sometimes comes across as strongly moralising and sometimes as intellectually overcharged. It is in relation to Goethe, who often wrote intuitively from personal experience, psychologically, as it were, that we may speak of Schiller’s poems, particularly in view of the great philosophical works, as intellectual. ‘Almost always it is the poet that comes upon me when I should philosophize and the philosophical spirit, when I would write poems’, he once admitted to Goethe. Often the reading of Schiller’s poetry calls for a considerable knowledge of mythology and the exuberance of his language, leading Richard Strauss once to confess in a letter to his special liking for Schiller’s hymns, today perhaps seems difficult.

As the poems of Schiller for the most part do not have the same degree of popularity as Goethe’s, so Schubert’s settings of Schiller came and now come after those of Goethe, and this in spite of the number of settings of Schiller that include incidentally more different versions of a whole series of poems similar in number to those he set of Goethe. It may be supposed that the great homogeneity of Goethe’s poems better meets the requirements of musical setting. Nevertheless Schiller’s work
Item number 8554740
Barcode 636943474020
Release date 01/05/2001
Label Naxos Records
Media type CD
Number of units 1
Artists Martin Bruns
Ulrich Eisenlohr
Composers Franz Schubert
Producers Pauline Heister
Disc: 1
Dithyrambe, D. 801
1 Der Taucher (2nd setting), D. 111b
2 Punschlied, D. 253
3 Der Alpenjager, D. 588
4 Der Jungling am Bache (3rd adaption), D. 638c
5 Elysium, D. 584
6 Der Fluchtling, D. 402
7 Laura am Clavier, D. 388
8 Der Kampf, D. 594
9 Die Entzuchung an Laura, D. 390
10 Dithyrambe, D. 801
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