Saturday, 24.8.2024
7.30 pm

“The eternal feminine”

SONG RECITAL AT THE 3RD ANDERMATT GOETHE DAYS

Franziska Heinzen, soprano
Benjamin Mead, piano
Isabel Karajan, recitation

With Gretchen, Suleika and Mignon, assorted female characters created by Goethe will find expression in songs by Schubert, Liszt, Wolf and others. This song recital with Franziska Heinzen (soprano), Benjamin Mead (piano) and Isabel Karajan (recitation) will take place under the auspices of the 3rd Andermatt Goethe Days.

Prices: CHF 90 / 75 / 60 / 45

Programme

Songs by Schubert, Liszt, Wolf, Schoenberg, Beethoven etc.

About the programme

10 verses, 23 words, 135 letters. These are the sober figures that make up a poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in which he sums up the bliss of love and the tragedy of life in a tone so simple that it almost sounds naïve. And yet Goethe here manages to encapsulate a whole world in it. In English, it runs: “Blissful / and tearful, / With thought-teeming brain; / Hoping / And fearing / In passionate pain; / Now shouting in triumph, / Now sunk in despair; / With love’s thrilling rapture / What joy can compare!”

Capricious, bursting with emotional contradictions, we find here side by side the joy of existence and the fear of the end of love. Goethe thematises the paradox that it is only unfulfilled, endangered, secret or uncertain love that promises us the greatest happiness, and that the euphoria and the melancholy of love belong together. These words from Goethe’s play Egmont are spoken by Clärchen, the girl who loves the title character, and whose love is in defiance of social and moral norms. After Egmont’s arrest, she refuses to conform to a normal, bourgeois life and instead commits suicide.

Clärchen perhaps comes close to Goethe’s abstract notion of “the eternal feminine” as it is summed up at the close of his play Faust II (“The eternal feminine / draws us on”, he wrote). Just what exactly Goethe meant this to encapsulate remains vague. The term is generally understood in terms of eternal love, though it is impossible to assume any direct equivalence here, since it is the eternal (or the divine) that reveals itself in the feminine, along with man’s receptivity to love and our devotion to it. The sheer diversity of this topic will be explored by the song recital on “Women’s stories and Goethe” at the Andermatt Goethe Days. These stories concern his direct relatives, namely his grandmother, his mother and his beloved sister Cornelia; then there are his acquaintances and friendships with women; his lovers; and finally Christiane Vulpius, the partner whom he waited 18 years to marry. There are also the famous female characters that Goethe created in his works, such as Gretchen, Suleika, Clärchen and Mignon, who were often based on living women, but are idealised and exaggerated. And then there is the image of woman that we find reflected in the prejudices of a male-dominated society and in occasionally cynical, derogatory remarks that stand in stark contrast with Goethe’s idealised female figures and his personal preferences.

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