Schubert's Lieder: Settings of Goethe's poems
Schubert's Lieder: Settings of Goethe's poems

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Schubert's Lieder: Settings of Goethe's poems

1 Schubert: introduction

This course focuses on a selection of short poems in German that were set to music by Franz Schubert (1797–1828) for a single voice with piano, a genre known as ‘Lieder’ (the German for ‘songs’). These are miniatures, but in Schubert's hands they become miniatures of an exceptionally concentrated kind. Their characteristic distillation of the emotional essence of a poem illustrates Romanticism at its most intimate. Schubert's Lieder, once they became widely known, influenced succeeding generations of songwriters through to the present day.

A selection of Schubert's settings of Goethe's poems is discussed in this course, with recordings provided for you to listen to. The poems, in German with parallel translations into English and the music scores of four of the song settings are also included. You are not expected to be able to read the music, but even if you are not very familiar with musical notation, you may well find the scores useful in identifying what is happening in the songs.

Exercise 1

Before you read on, play the audio clips below, containing the first two songs, following the parallel text provided. The important thing is to get an initial impression of what sort of material this is.

Click below to listen to 'Heidenröslein'.

Download this audio clip.Audio player: a207_2_001s.mp3
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Click below to listen to 'Wanderers Nachtlied'.

Download this audio clip.Audio player: a207_2_002s.mp3
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Click to read these two songs in English and German [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

Click to view the musical score for Heidenröslein

A207_2

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