Thursday, April 8, 2021
The “Lied" or German classical art-song in which voice and piano are equal players in polyphony, is a genre which flourished during the 19th century heyday of German poetry and literature. Mozart composed the first Lied in 1785 to a poem by Goethe, “Das Veilchen” (The Violet), which tells the mock-tragic story of a flower who falls in love with a shepherdess, only to be accidentally crushed by her.
Goethe’s fictional character Mignon, from his novel “Wilhelm Meisters Lehrejahre” (Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship) which appeared in 1795, inspired composers for the next century, beginning with Beethoven.
In 1810, Beethoven published four settings to this poem, with a curious inscription on the autograph: "NB: I did not have enough time to produce a good one, so here are several attempts." Franz Schubert set this poem to music no fewer than six times between 1815 and 1826. Schumann's appeared in 1849, and in 1869 Tschaikowsky published a setting, famous in English translation as “None but the Lonely Heart”.
Here are performances of the same poem as set by all four composers:
Beethoven (Pamela Coburn, Leonard Hokanson): https://youtu.be/W5py4D-HpPE
Schubert (Deniz Uzun, Mezzosoprano - Astrid Desantoine, Harp): https://youtu.be/hNV_MiBA6ss
Schumann (Michaela Kaune, Burkhard Kehring): https://youtu.be/_qXZFAjOmnU
Tchaikovsky (Rosa Ponselle, Igor Chichagov): https://youtu.be/wkg6wLXn3_Y
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