Archives For Lieder

On the train back to our London home via Paddington this evening after performing my first concert of 2019 with George Todica. What a thrilling way to start our musical performances for the year.

We performed as part of the Stonevale Recital series, near Swindon an intimate venue where we were warmly welcomed by the concert organiser Lynette and later by the generous and kind-hearted audience of the local village. The audience was made up of all ages and it was lovely to see everyone engage with our performance as we traveled throughout Europe with our musical program.

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At the venue, we had the luxury of picking between two pianos for the concert, and George was in a little torment as both pianos were exquisite to the touch and being mindful of the repertoire we were performing he decided to play the Steinway because of its crisp colours and position within the room. Although the Yamaha was a very strong contender with its vibrancy of sound.

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It was lovely to travel outside of London bringing our practice to performance level and having fun in the joy of creating live music. We performed a few new pieces and took lots of risks and shaped the stories told by our music based on the reactions of our audience. I also sang a great number of arias which put my stamina to the test! We were really happy and can’t wait to perform more concerts and recitals in this new year!

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Earlier in the week, we took inspiration from Diana Damrau and Helmut Deutsch’s Lieder concert at the Barbican this week. The duo looked like they had so much fun on stage seamlessly crafting the music and the poetry. We both thoroughly enjoyed their interpretation along with the rest of the audience who encouraged Damrau and Deutsch’s to perform three encores! Which in turn left George and me with two sets of very red yet enthusiastic hands!

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We both wanted to take this joy and energy and try to share it with those who came this afternoon and we hope that in some small way we were able to achieve this.

HeaderGretchenBlog

Franz Schubert, born in January 1797, was an Austrian composer who died at the young age of 31 years. His work bridged classical and romantic. He had an early gift for music playing the piano, violin and organ and was also an excellent singer although when his voice broke in 1812 it forced him to leave college, Stadtkonvikt (Imperial Seminary) after earning a choir scholarship there in 1808. His father was a school teacher, and he taught the young Schubert rudimentary violin whilst his elder brother taught him piano. His mother was a home maker and played the cello. He was their 12th child, he had 14 siblings, nine died in infancy.

Franz-Schubert

Franz Schubert

Between 1813 and 1815 Schubert was a prolific songwriter, at the age of 17 he wrote two of his first German Lieds ‘Gretchen am Spinnrade’ and ‘Der Erlkönig’. He worked with texts from poetry giants like Wolfgang von Goethe, interpreting their poetry using his musical creativeness. These pieces are very dramatic, the depiction of the spinning wheel and treadle in the piano in ‘Gretchen’ are a tricky pictorial keyboard figuration.

Therese_Grob

Therese Grob

He had to teach to make ends meet but he hated it. In 1814 he met a soprano called Therese Grob and wrote several works for her, he wanted to marry her but was thwarted by harsh marriage laws where he had to show he had the means to support a family. He lived in the early 1820’s with a close-knit group of artists and students, he and four of his friends were arrested by the Austrian police who were on their guard against revolutionary activities. One of his friends was banished from Austria and Schubert was ‘severely reprimanded’. Schubert was not quite five feet tall and his friends nicknamed him “Schwämmerl” ‘Little Mushroom’.

Franz-Liszt

Franz Liszt

When he died in November 1828, he’d been ill with headaches, fever, swollen joints and vomiting, impoverished and neglected except by a circle of his friends who were in awe of his genius. The composer Franz Liszt said of him after his death that ‘he was the most poetic musician who ever lived’. His output in his short life was prolific consisting of over six hundred secular vocal works (mainly Lieder), seven completed symphonies, sacred music, operas, incidental music and a large body of chamber and piano music.

Today Schubert is placed amongst the greatest composers of the early Romantic era and as such is one of the most frequently performed composers of the early nineteenth century.

This was the video of performance of this fabulous composition at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod in 2014 courtesy of Llangollen.

gretchen-spinning-wheel

An Early Depiction Of Gretchen am Spinnrade

English Translation

My peace is gone,
My heart is heavy,
I will find it never
and never more.

Where I do not have him,
That is the grave,
The whole world
Is bitter to me.

My poor head
Is crazy to me,
My poor mind
Is torn apart.

For him only, I look
Out the window
Only for him do I go
Out of the house.

His tall walk,
His noble figure,
His mouth’s smile,
His eyes’ power,

And his mouth’s
Magic flow,
His handclasp,
and ah! his kiss!

My peace is gone,
My heart is heavy,
I will find it never
and never more.

My bosom urges itself
toward him.
Ah, might I grasp
And hold him!

And kiss him,
As I would wish,
At his kisses
I should die!

Freundliche-Vision-Blog

I have written previously about Richard Strauss on my blog as I find many of his songs to be full of romance and the beauty to be found within loving relationships. With Valentine’s Day approaching this Saturday I thought I would take the opportunity to share another of Strauss’s songs with you.

“Freundliche Vision” (a welcome vision or a friendly vision)

This was recorded last year on Valentine’s Day, February 14th 2014 in Bury Parish church accompanied by Russell Lomas.

The inspiration for this song came from a poem written by Otto Julius Bierbaum (1865 – 1910). The poem was one of five works by Bierbaum that Richard Strauss set to music in 1918 for his song cycle Opus 48.

The poems/songs were:

Freundliche Vision
Ich Schwebe
Kling!
Winterweihe
Winterliebe

Richard_Strauss

Richard Strauss

 

The songs were testaments to love; the emotions, feelings, sensations and excitement that you experience when you share your life with someone special to you.

These were the words from the original poem:

Nicht im Schlafe hab’ ich das geträumt,
Hell am Tage sah ich’s schön vor mir:
Eine Wiese voller Margeritten;
Tief ein weißes Haus in grünen Büschen;
Götterbilder leuchten aus dem Laube.
Und ich geh’ mit Einer, die mich lieb hat,
Ruhigen Gemütes in die Kühle
Dieses weißen Hauses, in den Frieden,
Der voll Schönheit wartet, daß wir kommen.

Otto Bierbaum

I found this beautiful translation of the poem into English by Constance Bache (1846 – 1903) which I hope will give you an idea of the emotion to be found in the original text.

cottage

Not in slumber did the dream arise,
But in day’s broad light I saw it all:
Just a meadow full of budding daisies,
And a sunny house half hid in foliage;
Forms divine are lurking in the thicket.
And I walk with her whose love I cherish;
Tranquillity we enjoy the coolness
Of this sheltered cottage, full of beauty,
Full of peace that waiteth on our coming.
And I go with her whom I cherish
To the peace and the beauty

Constance Bache

Constance Bache was herself a pianist and composer who studied at the Munich Conservatoire in Germany but following an injury to her right hand she returned to England and along with her teaching she translated many German and Russian songs into English.

Constance-Bache

Other Examples Of Songs Translated Into English By Constance Bache

 

These beautiful songs and their sentiments are a great way to lift your spirits especially as Valentine’s Day approaches. These poems paint emotive images of love between kindred spirits.

 

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Robert Schumann (1810-1856) had been regarded as brilliant pianist predicted by his teacher to become one of the finest in Europe. Unfortunately he suffered an injury to his hand which brought his dreams of pursuing a virtuoso career at the piano to an untimely end. He decided to concentrate on his composing and produced a long list of accomplished musical works for us all to enjoy.

Schumann

One such composition is “Widmung” a captivating lied which he composed in 1840 as part of a song cycle “Myrthen” (Opus 25). Schumann wanted to create the perfect gift for his wife-to-be Clara Wieck to present to her on their wedding day.

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The title of the cycle represents the bridal wreaths which were often made out of myrtle, an evergreen shrub entwined with white flowers.

Schuman used a collection of 26 poems to complete his work from poets such as Robert Burns, Lord Byron and Friedrich Ruckert. The songs embodied all the emotions that Schumann associated with love, marriage and companionship.

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“Widmung” (Dedication ) was the first song in the cycle using the lyrics from a poem by Friedrich Ruckert. The lyrics of the song provided the means for Schumann to capture the way that Clara made him feel. He expresses that Clara is his peace, angel, repose, rapture, heart, soul, grave for sorrows, better self and his heaven. A truly beautiful lied and I hope that I do it justice.

Lyrics
Du meine [Seele]1, du mein Herz,
Du meine [Wonn’, o du]2 mein Schmerz,
Du meine Welt, in der ich lebe,
Mein Himmel du, [darin]3 ich schwebe,
O du mein Grab, in das hinab
Ich ewig meinen Kummer gab!
Du bist die Ruh, du bist der Frieden,
Du bist [der]4 Himmel, mir beschieden.
Daß du mich liebst, macht mich mir wert,
Dein Blick hat mich vor mir verklärt,
Du hebst mich liebend über mich,
Mein guter Geist, mein beßres Ich!

Translation
You my soul, you my heart,
You my bliss, o you my pain,
You the world in which I live;
You my heaven, in which I float,
You my grave, into which
I eternally cast my grief.
You are rest, you are peace,
You are bestowed upon me from heaven.
That you love me makes me worthy of you;
Your gaze transfigures me;
You raise me lovingly above myself,
My good spirit, my better self!

You can see why this era was called the romantic era of music. Schumann manages to embody the excitement of being in love through the shape of the melody, it is so full of energy and makes me feel so happy when I sing it.

Thank You
I would also like to say a BIG thank you to all of you for being part of my life. I have met so many lovely people here on my blog and learnt so much from you all. Having this opportunity to meet such a wide and varied group of people from diverse backgrounds with enriching experiences has been a real highlight for me. I am humbled that I have been nominated for several blogging awards and appreciate each and every one. The problem I have is that it would be impossible for me to pick my favourite ten or fifteen bloggers, I tend to read and comment on the blogs that I follow whenever I have the time but I cannot get around as often as I would like. If it were up to me I would give every single one of you “Blog Of The Year”. Please, please, please keep writing and sharing your experiences, creativity and enthusiasm as it gives so much pleasure to the people that read what you write

Follow the “Lieder”

November 28, 2013 — 50 Comments

LeiderPost

This year at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland I am working on German Lieder.   ‘Lied’ is a German and Dutch word meaning “song” and I fell in love with this style of singing when I was first introduced to classical repertoire.  The songs are so emotively written and they challenge the singer to perform these songs as they were originally intended.

These songs are mainly from the Romantic period (the 19th Century) and are highly charged with emotional music and expressive lyrics.    The earliest lieder date from the 12th and 13th Century and were the work of poet-musicians called ‘minnesinger’ poets and singers of courtly love, longing and the beauty of nature.

Romantic Lieder is one of my favourite genres to sing at the moment.  I have sung with some amazing accompanists at many music festivals, the piano part sets the mood of the score rather than remaining in the background.  There are many key changes and colourful harmonies and I love working on the colour and vocal interpretation of these beautiful pieces.

I chose to sing two Lieder composed by Richard Strauss (1864 – 1949 ) “Zueignung” and “Freundliche Vision” for my entry into this year’s Ferrier competition and I have attached a copy of my performance of “Freundliche Vision” (A Pleasant Vision) from the final round.

Strauss

Richard Strauss

The strong lyrical melodies and the rich harmonies within this song made it a joy to perform.  To perform Lieder well you need to have a seamless relationship between piano and voice, the piano does far more than accompaniment, it forms an equal partnership with the voice and the skill of the pianist is very important to how the song is portrayed.  The accompanist in this performance was a talented RCS third year student from Romania, George Todica, and I hope you enjoy our version.

I found a translation for lyrics of this song here in English French, Italian alongside the original German.

If you would like to read some additional information here are a couple of links:

Britannica.com

BBC.co.uk

Within the translation of the lyrics there is a line “and I walk with one who loves me”, on this Thanksgiving I hope that you can be with those you love and say thanks to them 🙂