Dichterliebe Op.48 to poems by Heinrich Heine

Composer: Robert Schumann (b. 1810 - d. 1856)
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Composer: Robert Schumann (b. 1810 - d. 1856)

Performance date: 30/06/2014

Venue: St. Brendan’s Church

Composition Year: 1840

Duration: 00:29:29

Recording Engineer: Anton Timoney, RTÉ lyric fm

Instrumentation Category:Duo

Instrumentation Other: Bar-solo, pf

Artists: Julius Drake - [piano]
Philippe Sly - [baritone]

Every music-lover knows about Schumann’s Liederjahr, his year of song when he set
a hundred and fifty poems to music. And every lover should know the story of
Robert and his Clara, who fell in love when she was only sixteen and who had to
struggle for five long years against her father’s implacable opposition. The
year 1840 saw their long campaign reach the courts, their future to be decided
by a group of Dresden
lawyers. So Robert, like every lover, turned to poetry for sustenance and hope
and inspiration.

Clara, Something new. Since yesterday morning, very early, I have written
almost 27 pages of music, weeping and laughing aloud, as I wrote. Six books of
songs and ballads! I can’t tell you how easy it has become for me, how happy it
makes me feel. I write while standing or pacing my room – not at the piano at
all. This is a different kind of music, one that does not have to be born
through the fingers first. And this spring, it takes me by surprise to see how
suddenly everything is in blossom, how profuse everything is. I can’t calm
down. I am composing so much it frightens me. But I can’t seem to help it. I am
having to sing myself to death like a nightingale.

They are miniatures – each song a perfect
miniature, each one shining like a pearl in the candlelight. And this man of
song is also the Schumann of Papillons,
Carnaval and Kreisleriana, so the piano parts glow like jasmine in the dark and
their scent lingers in the air. Each song flows into the next; each one is gone
before you can even reach out to touch it. The poems write of tears and longing
– so many tears and so much longing – and of terrifying dreams, and of
happiness just out of reach. Flowers are discovered everywhere, symbols of the
fragility of love, and, of course, the nightingale who sings all night of love.
Schumann lives each poem with the intensity of the lover, while sculpting the
emotion with the artist’s ruthless hand.

the Zweinaundorf Park,
just outside Leipzig
– do you know it? Very pretty. You have walked there too surely? – anyway,
there, when I was just your age I heard a nightingale. It was the most
beautiful sound I ever heard and I stopped everything to hear. Then – and this
is just as it happened – I fell and trembled and thrashed my arms and legs for
happiness that I was alive, and in this park beneath these trees with my whole
life in front of me, I fainted, Clärchen! I passed out from beauty and sheer
joy. And then I think I first imagined you.