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Of Poetry and Song

Of Poetry and Song: Approaches to the Nineteenth-Century Lied

Ann C. Fehn
Rufus Hallmark
Harry E. Seelig
Jürgen Thym
Edited by Jürgen Thym
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 470
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  • Book Info
    Of Poetry and Song
    Book Description:

    Singers and pianists never tire of exploring the songs of Schubert and Schumann, Wolf and Mahler. But discussions of these marvelous works have too often given only brief consideration to the artistry of the poems -- by such masters as Goethe, Heine, and Eichendorff -- and to the composers' insightful interaction with that verbal art. Of Poetry and Song: Approaches to the Nineteenth-Century Lied is an anthology of truly interdisciplinary studies of text-music relations in the German Lied. The chapters gathered in it (including some published here for the first time in English or indeed at all) were written by two musicologists -- Rufus Hallmark and Jürgen Thym -- and two German-literature specialists -- Harry Seelig and the late Ann C. Fehn. An extensive introduction by the volume's editor, Jürgen Thym, considers the fruitful ways in which the four authors meet the challenge of combining literary and musical analysis. Jürgen Thym is Professor Emeritus of Musicology at the University of Rochester's Eastman School of Music.

    eISBN: 978-1-58046-759-9
    Subjects: Music, History, Performing Arts

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xviii)
    Jürgen Thym
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xix-xx)
    Jürgen Thym
  5. Prelude

    • Chapter One On Schubert Reading Poetry: A Primer in the Rhythm of Poetry and Music
      (pp. 3-36)
      Rufus Hallmark

      I have long wanted to write a ruminative essay with a traditional but evocative title beginning “On . . . ,” and this collection of articles has given me the opportunity to do so by converting an old lecture into written form. In it I explore some basic relations between words and music, taking for illustration the Lieder of Franz Schubert. But inasmuch as an essay often begins with an epigram chosen from a source other than its subject, such as an apt quotation from a classical author, I shall provide as a motto an excerpt form Mozart’s song “Abendemp-findung...

  6. Part One: Close Readings and Comparative Studies

    • Chapter Two The Musical “Spirit” of Goethe’s “Suleika”: Schubert’s Settings D. 720 and D. 717
      (pp. 39-70)
      Harry E. Seelig

      Schubert’s settings of Goethe’s lyric poems, but for some notable exceptions (e.g., “Gretchen am Spinnrad” and “Erlkönig”), have traditionally received only grudging and partial approval from literary critics and musicologists. Goethe scholars have been even more patronizing toward the composer’s two “Suleikalieder.” Schubert’s settings, it is said, are brilliant musical creations, but they do not reflect Goethe; the “Suleikalieder” in particular do not even represent Goethe, since the poems were written by Marianne von Willemer. Despite such caveats, I submit that Schubert’s settings D. 720 and D. 717 are not only superb in themselves but also provide intellectual and intuitive...

    • Chapter Three Text-Music Relations in Schumann’s Eichendorff Song “Frühlingsfahrt”
      (pp. 71-88)
      Jürgen Thym

      Past discussions of the German Lied have focused almost exclusively on the musical side of the genre; in their pursuit of exploring increasingly subtle refinements in the Lied’s musical structure, scholars have often left literary considerations at the periphery. The Lied, however, is a compound genre in which poetry and music interact: a preexistent text is usually the stimulus from which the composer derives ideas for his or her musical setting. To do justice to the genre’s particular character, it is necessary to incorporate both elements when analyzing a song; that is, it is necessary to synthesize literary and musical...

    • Chapter Four Hugo Wolf’s Ghazal Settings from “Das Schenkenbuch” of Goethe’s West-östlicher Divan
      (pp. 89-110)
      Harry E. Seelig

      Apart from notable exceptions such as the “Mignon” and “Harper” songs, Hugo Wolf’sGoetheliederhave never achieved the widespread success, either among critics or the general public, of his Mörike or Eichendorff settings. Even less successful are his seventeen settings from Goethe’s rather esoteric amalgamation of oriental and occidental idioms in the more than two hundred poems of hisWest-östlicher Divan.The fact that this wide-ranging cycle is in fact the product of an aged poet’s rejuvenated inspiration rather than the irreverent jottings of indiscreet senility has become clear to the most recent generation of German scholars.

      Not nearly so...

    • Chapter Five Karl Weigl’s Opus 1 in Its Nineteenth-Century Context: A Historic Literary-Musical Fusion of Goethe’s “Wanderers Nachtlied” and “Ein Gleiches”
      (pp. 111-135)
      Harry E. Seelig

      The compilation of Goethe settings published by Willi Schuh in the 1952 Artemis edition ofGoethes Werkelists 115 composers who have set “Der du von dem Himmel bist” and 95 who have scored “Über allen Gipfeln.”¹ Many others before and since have doubtless tried to join the also-rans already crowding Schuh’s catalog. But only 7 composers occur onboth lists;² none of those—to the best of my knowledge—has attempted to relate or juxtapose, not to mention link or connect, these two “Nachtlieder” in any recognizable way. Karl Weigl’s collectionSeven Songs for Baritone,op. 1, however, includes...

    • Chapter Six “Hans Adam”—Goethe’s Parodistic Creation Myth: A Parody Parodied by Hugo Wolf and Richard Strauss
      (pp. 136-152)
      Harry E. Seelig

      In this study I develop further an argument I have begun elsewhere, namely that in his selection of seventeen poems from Goethe’sWest-östlicher Divan,all of which he set to music in the second half of January 1889, Hugo Wolf has created a microcosmic mini-cycle of the poet’s original macrocosmic collection of more than 220 individual poems.¹ Here, however, my primary objective is to contrast Wolf’s half-serious parodistic Lied setting of “Hans Adam” with Richard Strauss’s rollicking self-parody of the same poem. But I focus as well on the intriguing fact that Wolf’s setting of “Erschaffen und Beleben,” more popularly...

  7. Part Two: Poetic and Musical Structure

    • Chapter Seven Text and Music in Schubert’s Settings of Pentameter Poetry
      (pp. 155-219)
      Rufus Hallmark and Ann C. Fehn

      Song composers since the Renaissance have tended to set texts according to the speech rhythms of the poetic lines. As analysts, we often take good declamation for granted, noting only occasional faux pas of accentuation or awkward phrasing. Investigations of the relation of text to music in song address other questions of text-related expressivity and musical coherence but seldom examine this fundamental area of text-music coordination. Our purpose in this chapter is to call attention to Schuberts mastery of declamation, specifically with regard to his settings of pentameter poetry. We hope to show that these settings, while responding to the...

    • Chapter Eight Repetition as Structure in the German Lied: The Ghazal
      (pp. 220-239)
      Ann C. Fehn and Jürgen Thym

      In contrast to most folk songs and popular songs, such as those discussed by Mark Booth in his monographThe Experience of Songs,¹ art songs set preexisting poems. It is therefore understandable that when we examine text-music relationships in the German Lied, we often analyze the settings as responses to, or even imitations of, the poems that are their subjects and programs. Although we do not necessarily declare a setting aesthetically inferior if it does not follow the poem closely, establishing the extent of parallelism is a standard part of stylistic analysis.

      But what exactly are the elements of a...

    • Chapter Nine Sonnet Structure and the German Lied: Shackles or Spurs?
      (pp. 240-260)
      Ann C. Fehn and Jürgen Thym

      When scholars look at the relation of poetry to music in a song, they tend to concentrate on ideas and images and to examine how these are expressed or enacted by the setting. Less frequently do they ask whether and how it matters that poetry is set, not just vivid prose. Indeed, one might question whether poetic form really does matter or whether the delicate rhythms and patterns of a poem are simply overpowered by the more robust forces that shape a musical composition.¹ This study explores these questions by looking at a poetic form—the sonnet—that is itself...

    • Chapter Ten Schubert’s Strategies in Setting Free Verse
      (pp. 261-280)
      Jürgen Thym and Ann C. Fehn

      Free verse is a contradiction in terms. What makes this kind of poetry verse, and what makes it free? And if it is verse, why is it free? Anglo-American and German critics differ considerably in their handling of this question, defining free verse in different ways; even within both traditions a great deal of disagreement exists. This is not the place to explore the various approaches to free verse; let us simply say that for the purpose of this study we are working with a definition that might be termedvisual or graphic.

      In its most provocative form—we are...

  8. Part Three: In Search of Cycles

    • Chapter Eleven Hugo Wolf and Goethe’s “Duodrama”: Toward a “Better Understanding” of the Problematic Divan-Trinity of Life, Love, and Spirit
      (pp. 283-321)
      Harry E. Seelig

      Goethe’sWest-östlicher Divancontains within the vast range of its 250-odd poems numerous lyrics generally considered among the world’s great love poetry.¹ The majority are monologues in which the persona-lover not only implies reciprocity of feeling but also presupposes its potential existence. Some of the poems—although neither dialogues nor miniature dramas—juxtapose two personae, each addressing the other in a related context yet paradoxically expressing his or her amorous interdependence in autonomous poems. Goethe’s term for this configuration, “duodrama,” occurs in the “Ankündigung im ‘Morgenblatt’ 1816,”² and it is Hugo Wolf’s singular contribution to the world’s repertoire of Goethelieder...

    • Chapter Twelve Text and Music in Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder
      (pp. 322-334)
      Ann C. Fehn

      Mahler’sKindertotenliederpose questions for the analyst of text-music relations, not because correspondences between Rückert’s poems and the composer’s settings are so difficult to find but because they are so obvious. When analyzing Lieder, most of us take a middle position on the aesthetic question of how fully a setting can or should be analyzed as an imitation of its text. As a genre, the nineteenth-century Lied stands apart from the folk and popular songs examined by Mark Booth in his monographThe Experience of Songsin that it consists of settings of preexisting poems, which constitute their programs.¹ On...

    • Chapter Thirteen The Rückert Lieder of Robert and Clara Schumann
      (pp. 335-374)
      Rufus Hallmark

      On December 24, 1850, Robert and Clara Schumann received a sole visitor at their home in Düsseldorf—their friend Josef Wasielewski, the violinist, concertmaster, and later Robert’s first biographer.¹ Wasielewski was evidently the recipient on that occasion of a copy of their Rückert songs,Zwölf Lieder aus F. Rückerts Liebesfrühling,for the music is inscribed: “In commemoration of Christmas Eve, 1850, from Robert and Clara Schumann.”² It was Clara’s personal copy of the songs, on which Robert had written “for my Clara” when he had presented it to her on her birthday, September 13, 1841. For the three friends, the...

    • Chapter Fourteen A Cycle in Flux: Schumann’s Eichendorff Liederkreis
      (pp. 375-389)
      Jürgen Thym

      Schumann’sLiederkreis,op. 39, is generally considered one of the great song cycles in the history of the German Lied. But what makes it a cycle is less than clear. In fact, some of the principal defining characteristics of song cycles such as Beethoven’sAn die ferne Geliebte,Schubert’sDie schöne Müllerin,and even Schumann’sDichterliebedo not apply here. The poems of op. 39 do not form a lyric cycle, they do not outline a story in the conventional sense, and even if we assume some kind of teleological narrative in the sequence of emotional states displayed in the...

    • Chapter Fifteen Why Dichterliebe Twice? The Case of Schumann’s Opus 24 and Opus 48
      (pp. 390-406)
      Rufus Hallmark

      So begins a poem in Heine’sDie Heimkehr,one of the constituent collections within hisBuch der Lieder(1827). When one reads the whole poem from which this opening line is taken, one realizes that the poet is hardly raising this cry sympathetically but rather that he is making fun of those who believe the world and life could be experienced as anything other than fragmentary.¹ He aims his satire at the academic, “der weiß das Leben zusammenzusetzen” and “macht ein verständlich System daraus” (who knows how to construe life as an understandable system). Why I have nevertheless chosen to...

  9. Postlude

    • Chapter Sixteen Discovering “Musical Impressionism” by Way of Eichendorff and Schumann: Wolf and Pfitzner at the Threshold
      (pp. 409-436)
      Jürgen Thym

      When Hugo Wolf decided in the late summer of 1888 to compose a volume of Eichendorff settings (interrupting the composition of the Moerike songs for a month), he knew his work would be compared to Schumann’s Eichendorff songs, especially theLiederkreis, op. 39. Determined to set out on a course different from that of his predecessor (who had focused on Eichendorff’s nature mysticism and symbolism nearly fifty years earlier in a handful of exquisite settings), Wolf, by and large, stayed away from the poems (or the type of poem) Schumann had used. He selected for his settings mainlyRollengedichte,poems...

  10. Index
    (pp. 437-450)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 451-451)