In January 1829, a good two months after Schubert’s death, the Viennese music publisher Tobias Haslinger, with whom Schubert had worked very closely in the final years of his life, placed an advertisement in the Viennese press, in which he announced Franz Schubert’s Schwanen-Gesang, 14 Lieder, “the final fruits of his noble power […], written in August 1828, shortly before his decease.” Haslinger had obtained the rights to the songs in December 1828 from Schubert’s brother Ferdinand, who had been handling the composer’s estate, and had given them the collective title of Schwanengesang. In reality there were two groups of songs: seven songs on texts by Ludwig Rellstab and six on texts by Heinrich Heine. These two groups are contained in a common manuscript of August 1828 and are today collected together as Schwanengesang (D 957), along with a single Lied, Die Taubenpost, on a poem by his friend Gabriel Seidl (D 965 A). The Lieder do not form a single cycle, for each group appears complete in itself. In the Heine group are collected together all the songs Schubert composed on poems by Heine; the same almost applies for the Rellstab group of Lieder: apart from the Lieder in Schwanengesang the only Rellstab poems on which Schubert wrote songs were the large-scale song for voice, horn and piano Auf dem Strom (D 943), the strophic Lied Herbst (D 945), which survives as an album leaf for Heinrich Panofka, and the incomplete Lied Lebensmut. Some anecdotes have sprouted up around the rellstab-lieder. During a trip to Vienna in 1825 Ludwig Rellstab had allowed some of his poems to be copied, as is recorded in Beethoven’s companion book, and he had begged him “to select them for musical setting.” This did not happen, however Rellstab records in his memoirs that “the sheets were later restored to him from Beethoven’s estate.” Some of these “were annotated with little crosses drawn in pencil in Beethoven’s own hand” – and, according to Rellstab, it was these ones that had aroused Schubert’s interest. If it is correct that Schubert in fact set the very poems that Beethoven had at first selected for himself, this would be one more sign that Schubert saw himself as a successor to Beethoven, even as a completer of his work in Lieder composition.
Total time: 01:11:07
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Bert van der Wolf
Bert van der Wolf
Galaxy Studios, Mol, België
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|Release Date||August 13, 2014|
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