A song recital with Schubert’s Goethe settings
Mauro Peter, tenor
Joseph Middleton, piano
On the occasion of the first-ever Andermatt Goethe Days, the tenor Mauro Peter from Lucerne and the pianist Joseph Middleton will perform settings of Goethe’s poetry by Franz Schubert that belong to the highpoints of the art of song.—
Franz Schubert (1797–1828): Songs to poems by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Der Sänger, D 149
Sehnsucht, D 123
Rastlose Liebe, D 138
Meeres Stille, D 216
Wandrers Nachtlied II, D 768
An den Mond, D 296
Der Fischer, D 225
Der Rattenfänger, D 255
Der König in Thule, D 367
Erlkönig, D 328
Gesänge des Harfners from «Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre», D 478:
– Wer sich der Einsamkeit ergibt
– Wer nie sein Brot mit Tränen aß
– An die Türen will ich schleichen
Ganymed, D 544
Erster Verlust, D 226
Versunken, D 715
Geheimes, D 719
An die Entfernte, D 765
Willkommen und Abschied, D 767
Franz Schubert and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe never actually met. Goethe was already 47 years old when Schubert was born in 1797, though he outlived the composer by a good three years. Schubert made two attempts to contact the poet, but went unanswered both times. In 1816, Schubert’s friend Joseph von Spaun sent Goethe several songs that Schubert had dedicated to the older man, writing: “Should this young artist [i.e. Schubert] be so fortunate as to win approval from the man whose approval would honour him more than that of any man in the whole wide world, I hereby venture to request that I might be given two words authorising me to inform him accordingly”. But his request remained unheard, as Goethe sent back his letter without any comment. Schubert’s second approach was made nine years later, this time in his own words. It resulted, however, in nothing more than a terse entry in Goethe’s diary: “A consignment from Schubert in Vienna, with compositions using my songs”. Thus did Schubert’s desire “to be shown some consideration in my insignificance” remained unfulfilled, his hopes for what would have been “the most beautiful event of my life” rejected.
Even though this artistic “love affair” between Schubert and Goethe remained one-sided, it resulted in some of the loveliest songs that have ever been composed. The tenor Mauro Peter and the pianist Joseph Middleton have made a selection of them and will present this cross-section of Schubert’s Goethe settings in their Liederabend here in Andermatt. “Sehnsucht” (“Yearning”) from 1814 can be heard alongside “Wandrers Nachtlied II” (“Wanderer’s Night Song II”) from 1824. “Ganymede” and “Erlkönig” are two of the songs that Schubert dedicated to Goethe. The latter – with its musical depiction of the different voices of the narrator, the boy, the father and the Erlkönig – is surely a near-perfect example of Schubert’s art of song. It is driven by the onomatopoeic clatter of a horse’s hooves, which Goethe deemed Schubert to have “expressed admirably” in his music (though a certain ironic undertone lurks in his assessment). “Meeres Stille” (“The Calm of the Sea”) stands in sharp contrast to this, for its musical near-stasis offers an apt allegory of the motionless sea.
This concert is held in cooperation with Sasso San Gottardo and the first “Goethe Days Andermatt”.
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