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Robert Schumann (1810 - 1856) / Heinrich Heine (1797 - 1856): Dichterliebe, Op. 48 (original and final versions)

Contents of this page:

Notes on the song cycle:

  • About the poet and the poems
  • About the composer and the composition
  • Texts and translations:

    1. Im wunderschönen Monat Mai
    2. Aus meinen Tränen sprießen
    3. Die Rose, die Lilie, die Taube, die Sonne
    4. Wenn ich in deine Augen seh'
    5. Dein Angesicht so lieb und schön
    6. Lehn deine Wang' an meine Wang'
    7. Ich will meine Seele tauchen
    8. Im Rhein, im heiligen Strome
    9. Ich grolle nicht
    10. Und wüßten's die Blumen, die kleinen
    11. Das ist ein Flöten und Geigen
    12. Hör' ich das Liedchen klingen
    13. Ein Jüngling liebt ein Mädchen
    14. Am leuchtenden Sommermorgen
    15. Es leuchtet meine Liebe
    16. Mein Wagen rollet langsam
    17. Ich hab' im Traum geweinet
    18. Allnächtlich im Traume seh' ich dich
    19. Aus alten Märchen
    20. Die alten, bösen Lieder
    1. In the wonderfully fair month of May
    2. From my tears spring
    3. The rose, the lily, the dove, the sun
    4. When I look into your eyes
    5. Your face, so dear and fair
    6. Rest your cheek against my cheek
    7. I would plunge my soul
    8. In the Rhine, in the holy stream
    9. I bear no grudge
    10. And if they knew it, the blooms, the little ones
    11. There is a fluting and fiddling
    12. I hear the little song sounding
    13. A young man loves a girl
    14. On a radiant summer morning
    15. My love, it shines
    16. My coach rolls slowly
    17. I have in my dreams wept
    18. Every night in my dreams I see you
    19. From old fairy-tales it beckons
    20. The old, angry songs

    For more information:

  • Getting a score of the song cycle
  • Recommended recordings
  • Bibliography
  • Web sites with more information

  • About Heinrich Heine (1797? - 1856) and the Poems

    Chaim Harry Heine was born in Düsseldorf in western Germany in December of 1797 (or possibly 1799). He studied law in Göttingen, Bonn and Berlin, completing his degree in 1825. That same year, perhaps in an attempt to secure government employment or a stable university professorship, he converted to Christianity, renaming himself Christian Johann Heinrich Heine. But he had already published a volume of poetry as a student in 1821, and saw his future as a creative artist rather than a petty bureaucrat. Heine spent the remainder of his life writing poetry and prose. Some of his writing tended to be more radical and iconoclastic and ran afoul of German censors, causing Heine to accept self-exile to Paris in 1831. Heine continued to write in Paris, though in 1848 he began to suffer the effects of a painful paralyzing spinal illness that confined him to what he called his "mattress-grave." Heine died in Paris in February 1856.

    Heine found his voice as a poet very early in his career, establishing his reputation with his second volume, the Tragödien, nebst einem lyrischen Intermezzo (Tragedies with a Lyric Intermezzo) of 1823. Heine reworked the Lyric Intermezzo and republished it in his first anthology, the Buch der Lieder (Book of Songs) of 1827. This anthology became a classic of Romantic German literature and composers began setting his poems to music within a year of the book's publication.

    Heine's poetry is rooted in riddles, allegories, allusions, dreams and above all ambivalences and contradictions. Heine mixed naked honesty with savage irony, constructed a folk-like simplicity with the keenest artifice, mingled autobiography with fantasy, comedy and tragedy, love and hate. The sixty-six poems of the Lyric Intermezzo explore the emotions of someone who has just lost a sweetheart, and often these conflicting emotions tangle in the same poem. The goal of these contradictions is to create a bridge to another world, though it is not clear if the ultimate aim is forgiveness and redemption or bitterness and isolation. Robert Schumann may have put it best when he wrote, "At certain points in time, (Heine's) poetry dons the mask of irony in order to conceal its visage of pain; perhaps for a moment the friendly hand of a genius may lift that mask so that wild tears may be transformed into pearls."

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    About Robert Schumann (1810 - 1856) and the Song Cycle

    Schumann was born in June 1810 in the town of Zwickau in modern southeastern Germany. Like Heine, Schumann was pushed to study law (in his case at Leipzig and Heidelberg) and like Heine, Schumann abandoned a lawyer's life to pursue a creative career, in his case as a composer, pianist and music critic. Schumann's earliest compositions were collections of piano pieces that sought to incorporate literary ideas into the musical construction. His writing as early as 1831 also shows a split personality with two distinct dueling halves: Florestan, the representation of the active and passionate, and Eusebius, who was dreamy and contemplative.

    Schumann fell in love with Clara Wieck, the pianist prodigy daughter of his piano teacher Friedrich Wieck. Wieck objected to Schumann as a potential son-in-law, and the stresses and roadblocks of a thwarted romance led Schumann to turn to poetry and song in the extraordinary "song-year" of 1840, when Schumann wrote over a third of all the songs he wrote in his lifetime.

    In that oeuvre, the songs to texts by Heinrich Heine stand out. Perhaps Heine's intrinsic contradictions appealed to Schumann's split personalities. Maybe the cunnning craft of Heine's poetry brought something out of Schumann the master miniaturist. In any event, many of Schumann's most beloved songs are set to Heine texts. Schumann selected twenty of the sixty-six poems of Heine's Lyric Intermezzo, rearranged poem order and altered some texts to create a cylical narrative. He fashioned music to match the poems in nine wonderfully fair days in the month of May 1840. The song cycle, titled "Twenty Songs from the Lyric Intermezzo in the Book of Songs for One Singer and Piano," was rejected by at least three different publishers in 1840 and 1843. C.F. Peters accepted the set for publication in November 1843, but four songs would be removed from the cycle and someone (it is not known who) attached the title Dichterliebe to the cycle.

    Schumann's songs feel more like an extension of his earlier piano music than music conceived for the voice. The piano typically carries most of the melody, with extended preludes and postludes that comment on the poems and give voice to thoughts and feelings that the words only decorate. Schumann continues his knack for creating literary effects in music: the wistful, ambivalent longing of Im wunderschönen Monat Mai is expressed in unsteady harmony veering between major and relative minor before settling on an unresolved dominant seventh chord. For Im Rhein, im heiligen Strome, Schumann elicits the feel of Köln Cathedral, whose bells were the first in Christendom to sound out three consecutive notes of the scale, by playing a bell-like figure in the left hand while the right hand plays snatches of a Bach organ prelude. Ich hab' im Traum geweinet evokes Heine's nightmares with one of the sparest piano parts ever put into an art song, while the voice recalls melodic fragments from Wenn ich in deine Augen seh, casting the words of that poem in a new light. And Schumann uses common musical motifs between songs to pull ideas together, such as the disembodied melodies bringing forth painful memories in Hör ich das Liedchen klingen and Am leuchtenden Sommermorgen, and the parallel postludes of Am leuchtenden Sommermorgen, and the final Die alten, bösen Lieder. In this way, Schumann created a song cycle that remains a perennial favorite in the art song literature.

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    Texts and Translations

    Original submission:
    von Heinrich Heine

    20 Lieder und Gesäange
    aus dem Lyrischen Intermezzo im Buch der Lieder
    für eine Singstimme und das Pianoforte
    Hrn. Dr. Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy
    freundschaftlich zugeeignet
    Robert Schumann.
    2ter Liederkreis
    aus dem Buch der Lieder
    Op. 29. Heft. 1. u. 2.

    Final publication:

    aus dem
    Buch der Lieder von H. Heine
    für eine Singstimme mit Begleitung des Pianoforte
    componirt und
    Frau Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient zugeeignet
    von Robert Schumann
    Op. 48

    Komponiert 1840 - Erschienen 1844
    C.F. Peters, Leipzig.
    Original submission:
    by Heinrich Heine

    20 Lyrics and Songs
    from the Lyric Intermezzo in the Book of Songs
    for solo voice and piano
    to Dr. Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy
    in friendship dedicated
    Robert Schumann.
    2nd Song Cycle
    from the Book of Songs
    Op. 29. Vols. 1. & 2.

    Final publication:

    from the
    Book of Songs by H. Heine
    for One Voice with Pianoforte Accompaniment
    composed and
    dedicated to Mme Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient
    by Robert Schumann
    Op. 48

    Composed in 1840 - Published in 1844
    Plate nos. 2867 I. and 2867 II.
    Note: Song numbers refer to the order in Schumann's original 20-song submission; the Opus numbers either indicate the order in the published Dichterliebe song cycle or where the song was published separately. The texts of deleted songs are shown in italics.

    Poem numbers refer to the published order in the first edition of Heine's Buch der Lieder. Hyperlinks in the German text show places where Schumann altered Heine's texts either by changing words or repeating phrases (leave the cursor over the link to pull up a balloon that describes the difference). Hyperlinks in the English text show explanations of some concepts long forgotten in the 21st century, or show links to web sites with useful information.

    Translations by James C.S. Liu, with assistance from Prof. Alison Hickey, Emily Spear, Kathy Gerlach, and especially invaluable input from Jim Wilkinson.

    Song 1 (Op. 48, No. 1)

    Im wunderschönen Monat Mai,
    als alle Knospen sprangen,
    da ist in meinem Herzen
    die Liebe aufgegangen.
    Im wunderschönen Monat Mai,
    als alle Vögel sangen,
    da hab' ich ihr gestanden
    mein Sehnen und Verlangen.

    Poem I

    In the wonderfully fair month of May,
    as all the flower-buds burst,
    then in my heart
    love arose.
    In the wonderfully fair month of May,
    as all the birds were singing,
    then I confessed to her
    my yearning and longing.

    Song 2 (Op. 48, No. 2)

    Aus meinen Tränen sprießen
    viel blühende Blumen hervor,
    und meine Seufzer werden
    ein Nachtigallenchor,
    und wenn du mich lieb hast, Kindchen,
    schenk' ich dir die Blumen all',
    und vor deinem Fenster soll klingen
    das Lied der Nachtigall.

    Poem II

    From my tears spring
    many blooming flowers forth,
    and my sighs become
    a nightingale choir,
    and if you have love for me, child,
    I'll give you all the flowers,
    and before your window shall sound
    the song of the nightingale.

    Song 3 (Op. 48, No. 3)

    Die Rose, die Lilie, die Taube, die Sonne,
    die liebt' ich einst alle in Liebeswonne.
    Ich lieb' sie nicht mehr, ich liebe alleine
    die Kleine, die Feine, die Reine, die Eine;
    sie selber, aller Liebe Bronne,
    ist Rose und Lilie und Taube und Sonne.

    Poem III

    The rose, the lily, the dove, the sun,
    I once loved them all in love's bliss.
    I love them no more, I love only
    the small, the fine, the pure, the one;
    she herself, source of all love,
    is rose and lily and dove and sun.

    Song 4 (Op. 48, No. 4)

    Wenn ich in deine Augen seh',
    so schwindet all' mein Leid und Weh!
    Doch wenn ich küsse deinen Mund,
    so werd' ich ganz und gar gesund.
    Wenn ich mich lehn' an deine Brust,
    kommt's über mich wie Himmelslust,
    doch wenn du sprichst: Ich liebe dich!
    so muß ich weinen bitterlich.

    Poem IV

    When I look into your eyes,
    then vanish all my sorrow and pain!
    Ah, but when I kiss your mouth,
    then I will be wholly and completely healthy.
    When I lean on your breast,
    I am overcome with heavenly delight,
    ah, but when you say, "I love you!"
    then I must weep bitterly.

    Song 5 (Op. 127, No. 2)

    Dein Angesicht so lieb und schön,
    das hab' ich jüngst im Traum geseh'n;
    es ist so mild und engelgleich,
    und doch so bleich, so schmerzenreich.
    Und nur die Lippen, die sind rot;
    bald aber küßt sie bleich der Tod.
    Erlöschen wird das Himmelslicht,
    das aus den frommen Augen bricht.

    Poem V

    Your face, so dear and fair,
    that I have recently seen in a dream;
    it is so mild and angelic,
    and yet so pale, so rich in sorrow.
    And only your lips are red;
    but soon they will be kissed pale by death.
    Extinguished shall be the heavenly light,
    which streams from those innocent eyes.

    Song 6 (Op. 142, No. 2)

    Lehn deine Wang' an meine Wang',
    dann fließen die Tränen zusammen;
    und an mein Herz drück' fest dein Herz,
    dann schlagen zusammen die Flammen!
    Und wenn in die große Flamme fließt
    der Strom von unsern Tränen,
    und wenn dich mein Arm gewaltig umschließt -
    sterb' ich vor Liebessehnen!

    Poem VI

    Rest your cheek against my cheek,
    then shall our tears flow together;
    and against my heart press firmly your heart,
    then together shall our flames pulse!
    And when into the great flame
    flows the stream of our tears,
    and when my arm holds you tight - 
    I shall die of love's yearning!

    Song 7 (Op. 48, No. 5)

    Ich will meine Seele tauchen
    in den Kelch der Lilie hinein;
    die Lilie soll klingend hauchen
    ein Lied von der Liebsten mein.
    Das Lied soll schauern und beben,
    wie der Kuß von ihrem Mund',
    den sie mir einst gegeben
    in wunderbar süßer Stund'!

    Poem VII

    I want to plunge my soul
    into the chalice of the lily;
    the lily shall resoundingly exhale
    a song of my beloved.
    The song shall quiver and tremble,
    like the kiss from her mouth,
    that she once gave me
    in a wonderfully sweet hour!

    Song 8 (Op. 48, No. 6)

    Im Rhein, im heiligen Strome,
    da spiegelt sich in den Well'n
    mit seinem großen Dome
    das große, heilige Köln.
    Im Dom da steht ein Bildniß
    auf goldenem Leder gemalt.
    In meines Lebens Wildniß
    hat's freundlich hineingestrahlt.
    Es schweben Blumen und Eng'lein
    um unsre liebe Frau;
    die Augen, die Lippen, die Wänglein,
    die gleichen der Liebsten genau.

    Poem XI

    In the Rhine, in the holy stream,
    there is mirrored in the waves,
    with its great cathedral,
    great holy Cologne.
    In the cathedral, there stands an image
    on golden leather painted.
    Into my life's wilderness
    it has shined in amicably.
    There hover flowers and little angels
    around our beloved Lady,
    the eyes, the lips, the little cheeks,
    they match my beloved's exactly.

    Song 9 (Op. 48, No. 7)

    Ich grolle nicht, und wenn das Herz auch bricht,
    ewig verlor'nes Lieb!  Ich grolle nicht.
    Wie du auch strahlst in Diamantenpracht,
    es fällt kein Strahl in deines Herzens Nacht,
    das weiß ich längst.
    Ich grolle nicht, und wenn das Herz auch bricht.
                         Ich sah dich ja im Traume,
    und sah die Nacht in deines Herzens Raume,
    und sah die Schlang', die dir am Herzen frißt,
    ich sah, mein Lieb, wie sehr du elend bist.
    Ich grolle nicht.

    Poem XVIII

    I bear no grudge, even as my heart is breaking,
    eternally lost love!  I bear no grudge.
    Even though you shine in diamond splendor,
    there falls no light into your heart's night,
    that I've known for a long time.
    I bear no grudge, even as my heart is breaking.
                        I saw you, truly, in my dreams,
    and saw the night in your heart's cavity,
    and saw the serpent that feeds on your heart,
    I saw, my love, how very miserable you are.
    I bear no grudge.

    Song 10 (Op. 48, No. 8)

    Und wüßten's die Blumen, die kleinen,
    wie tief verwundet mein Herz,
    sie würden mit mir weinen
    zu heilen meinen Schmerz.
    Und wüßten's die Nachtigallen,
    wie ich so traurig und krank,
    sie ließen fröhlich erschallen
    erquickenden Gesang.
    Und wüßten sie mein Wehe,
    die goldenen Sternelein,
    sie kämen aus ihrer Höhe,
    und sprächen Trost mir ein.
    Die alle können's nicht wissen,
    nur Eine kennt meinen Schmerz;
    sie hat ja selbst zerrissen,
    zerrissen mir das Herz.

    Poem XXII

    And if they knew it, the blooms, the little ones,
    how deeply wounded my heart is,
    they would weep with me
    to heal my pain.
    And if they knew it, the nightingales,
    how I am so sad and sick,
    they would merrily unleash
    refreshing song.
    And if they knew my pain,
    the golden little stars,
    they would descend from their heights
    and would comfort me.
    All of them cannot know it,
    only one knows my pain,
    she herself has indeed torn,
    torn up my heart.

    Song 11 (Op. 48, No. 9)

    Das ist ein Flöten und Geigen,
    Trompeten schmettern darein.
    Da tanzt wohl den Hochzeitreigen
    die Herzallerliebste mein.
    Das ist ein Klingen und Dröhnen,
    ein Pauken und ein Schalmei'n;
    dazwischen schluchzen und stöhnen
    die lieblichen Engelein.

    Poem XX

    There is a fluting and fiddling,
    and trumpets blasting in.
    Surely, there dancing the wedding dance
    is my dearest beloved.
    There is a ringing and roaring
    of drums and shawms,
    amidst it sobbing and moaning
    are dear little angels.

    Song 12 (Op. 48, No. 10)

    Hör' ich das Liedchen klingen,
    das einst die Liebste sang,
    so will mir die Brust zerspringen
    von wildem Schmerzendrang.
    Es treibt mich ein dunkles Sehnen
    hinauf zur Waldeshöh',
    dort lös't sich auf in Tränen
    mein übergroßes Weh'.

    Poem XL

    I hear the little song sounding
    that my beloved once sang,
    and my heart wants to shatter
    from savage pain's pressure.
    I am driven by a dark longing
    up to the wooded heights,
    there is dissolved in tears
    my supremely great pain.

    Song 13 (Op. 48, No. 11)

    Ein Jüngling liebt ein Mädchen,
    die hat einen Andern erwählt;
    der Andre liebt' eine Andre,
    und hat sich mit dieser vermählt.
    Das Mädchen nimmt aus Ärger
    den ersten besten Mann
    der ihr in den Weg gelaufen;
    der Jüngling ist übel dran.
    Es ist eine alte Geschichte
    doch bleibt sie immer neu;
    und wem sie just passieret,
    dem bricht das Herz entzwei.

    Poem XXXIX

    A young man loves a girl,
    who has chosen another man,
    the other loves yet another
    and has gotten married to her.
    The girl takes out of resentment
    the first, best man
    who crosses her path;
    the young man is badly off.
    It is an old story
    but remains eternally new,
    and for him to whom it has just happened
    it breaks his heart in two.

    Song 14 (Op. 48, No. 12)

    Am leuchtenden Sommermorgen
    geh' ich im Garten herum.
    Es flüstern und sprechen die Blumen,
    ich aber wandle stumm.
    Es flüstern und sprechen die Blumen,
    und schau'n mitleidig mich an:
    Sei uns'rer Schwester nicht böse,
    du trauriger, blasser Mann.

    Poem XLV

     On a shining summer morning
     I go about in the garden.
     The flowers are whispering and speaking,
     I however wander silently.
     The flowers are whispering and speaking,
     and look sympathetically at me:
    "Do not be angry with our sister,
     you sad, pale man."

    Song 15 (Op. 127, No. 3)

    Es leuchtet meine Liebe,
    in ihrer dunkeln Pracht,
    wie'n Märchen traurig und trübe,
    erzählt in der Sommernacht.
    Im Zaubergarten wallen
    zwei Buhlen, stumm und allein;
    es singen die Nachtigallen,
    es flimmert der Mondenschein.
    Die Jungfrau steht still wie ein Bildnis,
    der Ritter vor ihr kniet.
    Da kommt der Riese der Wildnis,
    die bange Jungfrau flieht.
    Der Ritter sinkt blutend zur Erde,
    es stolpert der Riese nach Haus.
    Wenn ich begraben werde,
    dann ist das Märchen aus.

    Poem XLVI

    My love, it shines
    in its dark splendor,
    like a fairy-tale, sad and bleak,
    told on a summer night.
    In a magic garden appear
    two lovers, mute and alone;
    the nightingales are singing,
    the moonlight is shimmering.
    The maiden stands still as a portrait,
    the knight before her kneels.
    Then comes the giant of the wilderness,
    the fearful maiden flees.
    The knight sinks, bleeding, to the earth,
    then the giant stumbles home.
    When I am buried,
    then the fairy-tale is over.

    Song 16 (Op. 142, No. 4)

    Mein Wagen rollet langsam
    durch lustiges Waldesgrün,
    durch blumige Täler, die zaubrisch
    im Sonnenglanze blüh'n.
    Ich sitze und sinne und träume,
    und denk' an die Liebste mein;
    Da grüßen drei Schattengestalten
    kopfnickend zum Wagen herein.
    Sie hüpfen und schneiden Gesichter,
    so spöttisch und doch so scheu,
    und quirlen wie Nebel zusammen,
    und kichern und huschen vorbei.

    Poem LIV

    My coach rolls slowly
    through the merry forest green,
    through blooming valleys, which magically
    bloom in the sun's gleam.
    I sit and reflect and dream,
    and think on my beloved;
    then I am greeted by three shadowy forms
    nodding at the coach.
    They hop and make faces,
    so mocking and yet so shy,
    and whirl like mist together,
    and snicker and scurry by.

    Song 17 (Op. 48, No. 13)

    Ich hab' im Traum geweinet,
    mir träumte du lägest im Grab.
    Ich wachte auf, und die Träne
    floß noch von der Wange herab.
    Ich hab' im Traum geweinet,
    mir träumt' du verließest mich.
    Ich wachte auf, und ich weinte
    noch lange bitterlich.
    Ich hab' im Traum geweinet,
    mir träumte du wär'st mir noch gut.
    Ich wachte auf, und noch immer
    strömt meine Tränenflut.

    Poem LV

    I have in my dreams wept,
    I dreamed you lay in your grave.
    I woke up and the tears
    still flowed down from my cheeks.
    I have in my dreams wept,
    I dreamed you forsook me.
    I woke up and I wept
    for a long time and bitterly.
    I have in my dreams wept,
    I dreamed you still were good to me.
    I woke up, and still now
    streams my flood of tears.

    Song 18 (Op. 48, No. 14)

    Allnächtlich im Traume seh' ich dich,
    und sehe dich freundlich grüßen,
    und lautaufweinend stürz' ich mich
    zu deinen süßen Füßen.
    Du siehest mich an wehmütiglich,
    und schüttelst das blonde Köpfchen;
    aus deinen Augen schleichen sich
    die Perlentränentröpfchen.
    Du sagst mir heimlich ein leises Wort,
    und gibst mir den Strauß von Zypressen.
    Ich wache auf, und der Strauß ist fort,
    und's Wort hab' ich vergessen.

    Poem LVI

    Every night in my dreams I see you,
    and see your friendly greeting,
    and loudly crying out, I throw myself
    at your sweet feet.
    You look at me wistfully
    and shake your blond little head;
    from your eyes steal forth
    little pearly teardrops.
    You say to me secretly a soft word,
    and give me a garland of cypress.
    I wake up, and the garland is gone,
    and the word I have forgotten.

    Song 19 (Op. 48, No. 15)

    Aus alten Märchen winkt es
    hervor mit weißer Hand,
    da singt es und da klingt es
    von einem Zauberland';
    wo bunte Blumen blühen
    im gold'nen Abendlicht,
    und lieblich duftend glühen
    mit bräutlichem Gesicht;
    Und grüne Bäume singen
    uralte Melodei'n,
    die Lüfte heimlich klingen,
    und Vögel schmettern drein;
    Und Nebelbilder steigen
    wohl aus der Erd' hervor,
    und tanzen luft'gen Reigen
    im wunderlichen Chor;
    Und blaue Funken brennen
    an jedem Blatt und Reis,
    und rote Lichter rennen
    im irren, wirren Kreis;
    Und laute Quellen brechen
    aus wildem Marmorstein,
    und seltsam in den Bächen
    strahlt fort der Widerschein.
    Ach! könnt' ich dorthin kommen,
    und dort mein Herz erfreu'n,
    und aller Qual entnommen,
    und frei und selig sein!
    Ach! jenes Land der Wonne,
    das seh' ich oft im Traum,
    doch kommt die Morgensonne,
    zerfließt's wie eitel Schaum.

    Poem XLIII

    From old fairy-tales it beckons
    to me with a white hand,
    there it sings and there it resounds
    of a magic land,
    where colorful flowers bloom
    in the golden twilight,
    and sweetly, fragrantly glow
    with a bride-like face.
    And green trees sing
    primeval melodies,
    the breezes secretly sound
    and birds warble in them.
    And misty images rise
    indeed forth from the earth,
    and dance airy reels
    in fantastic chorus.
    And blue sparks burn
    on every leaf and twig,
    and red lights run
    in crazy, hazy rings.
    And loud springs burst
    out of wild marble stone,
    and oddly in the brooks
    shine forth the reflections.
    Ah! If I could enter there
    and there gladden my heart,
    and have all anguish taken away,
    and be free and blessed!
    Oh, that land of bliss,
    I see it often in dreams,
    but come the morning sun,
    and it melts away like mere froth.

    Song 20 (Op. 48, No. 16)

    Die alten, bösen Lieder,
    die Träume bös' und arg,
    die laßt uns jetzt begraben,
    holt einen großen Sarg.
    Hinein leg' ich gar manches,
    doch sag' ich noch nicht was.
    Der Sarg muß sein noch größer
    wie's Heidelberger Faß.
    Und holt eine Totenbahre,
    von Bretter fest und dick;
    auch muß sie sein noch länger
    als wie zu Mainz die Brück'.
    Und holt mir auch zwölf Riesen,
    die müssen noch stärker sein
    als wie der starke Christoph
    im Dom zu Köln am Rhein.
    Die sollen den Sarg forttragen,
    und senken in's Meer hinab;
    denn solchem großen Sarge
    gebührt ein großes Grab.
    Wißt ihr warum der Sarg wohl
    so groß und schwer mag sein?
    Ich senkt' auch meine Liebe
    Und meinen Schmerz hinein.

    Poem LXV

    The old, angry songs,
    the dreams angry and nasty,
    let us now bury them,
    fetch a great coffin.
    In it I will lay very many things,
    though I shall not yet say what.
    The coffin must be even larger
    than the Heidelberg Tun.
    And fetch a death-bier,
    of boards firm and thick,
    they also must be even longer
    than Mainz's great bridge.
    And fetch me also twelve giants,
    who must be yet mightier
    than mighty St. Christopher
    in the Cathedral of Cologne on the Rhine.
    They shall carry the coffin away,
    and sink it down into the sea,
    for such a great coffin
    deserves a great grave.
    How could the coffin
    be so large and heavy?
    I also sank my love
    with my pain in it.

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    Getting a Score of the Song Cycle

    Dichterliebe was originally published by C.F. Peters. It was reissued by Breitkopf & Härtel in 1885 as part of a Complete Schumann Edition, edited by Clara Schumann. Dichterliebe was also edited by Max Friedländer for their edition of the complete songs and has also been issued by Peters as a separate volume. The best cheap alternative to get a score would be to use PDF files of the Friedländer edition, available as part of the CD sheet music set of late Romantic German lieder or on IMSLP.

    There are two critical editions worth considering: the Norton critical edition edited in 1971 by Arthur Komar which features a complete score, texts and translations, some textual notes, detailed Schenkerian analysis of some of the cycle and essays about Heine and Schumann. Henle has also brought out an Urtext edition of the score edited in 2006 by Kakuzo Ozawa which has detailed notes comparing the working manuscript, Robert and Clara's copies of the first edition of 1844. This is the best, cleanest critical edition currently available, and also includes published copies of the four songs deleted from the cycle.

    For those curious about the original 20 song version, there are facsimile editions of the autograph draft, which includes all 20 songs and some intriguing musical differences from the final published version.

    Schumann's music is challenging to sing, testing both the highest heights and the lowest depths of a tenor voice. A mid or low range voice is even worse off. If the songs are transposed too low, some of them (especially Ich grolle nicht, Ein Jüngling liebt ein Mädchen and Allnächtlich im Traume become inaudibly low. Moreover, Schumann assembled the songs with a clear intent to the sequence of the keys (see Komar for the best discussion of this). So even more than in Schubert, it is fairly important to preserve relationships between keys of different songs, and ideally take all the songs down an equal distance. Unfortunately, no currently available published edition does this; the Peters medium and low voice editions don't transpose some songs at all, and take others down variable distances. The Henle Urtext edition is now available in medium and low voice editions. Cheaper budget editions also don't respect Schumann's original harmonic design. Partly, this is because some songs inevitably get transformed into awkward keys with any transposition. In addition, some of the awkward piano writing gets even more awkward when the fingers shift positions on the keys.

    For those adventuresome enough to try to do a consistent transposition, there is now another option. Glendower Jones at Classical Vocal Reprints has a new published edition of all 20 songs taken down a major second.

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    Recommended Recordings

    Dichterliebe is one of the most recorded art song works in the catalog. I cannot claim to have comprehensive knowledge of the available recordings, but can share information about a few recordings that have been useful to me:
  • Aksel Schiøtz, tenor; Gerald Moore, piano. HMV, January 10, 1946, reissued on Danacord DACOCD 453; streaming on Apple Music, Idagio, Presto Music, Qobuz, Spotify, YouTube.
  • Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone; Gerald Moore, piano. Salzburg Festival, Mozarteum, August 13, 1956, reissued on Orfeo d'Or C294921B, streaming on Apple Music, Idagio, Presto Music, Qobuz, Spotify, YouTube.
  • Gérard Souzay, baritone; Dalton Baldwin, piano. Philips, June 1961, reissued by Decca Classics, streaming on YouTube.
  • Christoph Prégardien, tenor; Andreas Staier, hammerflügel. West German Radio, 1993, issued on Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 05472 77319 2, streaming on Apple Music, Idagio, Presto Music, Qobuz, Spotify, YouTube.
  • Gerald Finley, baritone; Julius Drake, piano. Hyperion Records, 2007, streaming on Apple Music, Idagio, Presto Music, Qobuz, Spotify, YouTube.
  • The Danish tenor Aksel Schiøtz made a recording in 1946 for EMI/HMV with Gerald Moore (easily the most important art song accompanist of the 20th century). This has been reissued on a Danacord CD. This is perhaps the finest recording in a tragically short vocal career, with Schiøtz at the height of his vocal powers, mingling beautiful tone with sensitive handling of the text, and with Gerald Moore's customary impeccable partnering.

    No survey of German art song recordings would be complete without baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. Unfortunately, Fischer-Dieskau's studio recordings were all made in the 1960's and 1970's, by which time his voice had gained a barking, hectoring tone which can be unappealing. He also never made a studio recording with his finest partner, Gerald Moore. We must rely on transcriptions from concert performances of the 1950's to hear this pairing. Fortunately Orfeo has reissued a Salzburg Festival recital from 1956 with pianist Gerald Moore, accompanied by the Heine half of Schubert's Schwannengesang. The recital is also available as part of a multi-disc set which includes material from ten years of Salzburg Festival recitals. Unfortunately, the performance documents how Fischer-Dieskau sometimes took unorthodox chances in his live performances, not always with fully convincing results.

    As of this moment, my favorite recording is Gérard Souzay and Dalton Baldwin's 1961 classic for Philips (reissued by Decca Classics). Souzay demonstrates his stunningly beautiful vocal tone, meticulous diction and a surprisingly sensitive approach to the text and Baldwin is ever the attentive, sympathetic accompanist.

    Among the period instrument recordings, I like Christoph Prégardien and Andreas Staier's recording on Deutsche Harmonia Mundi. Prégardien demonstrates his customary qualities, including scrupulous attention to dynamics and markings, a relatively restrained approach to ritards and rubatos, and a relatively vibrato-free tone which allows him to play up the consonances and dissonances with the piano part. Some of the dissonances have powerfully expressive effects when paired with Staier's playing.

    Canadian bass-baritone Gerald Finley and British pianist Julius Drake have formed a remarkable partnership. Their 2007 recording of Dichterliebe and other Heine settings includes the four songs omitted from the final published version. Tempos are on the slower side, and this sounds to me like a performance from the low key edition; the Gramophone review marks this as a past tense rendition, filled with regret and aching resignation. The slow tempos give Finley and Drake all the space they need to wring every nuance of text, every independent piano line, every dynamic and expressive marking in the music to bring the cycle to detailed life.

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    Recommended Reading

    About Heinrich Heine:

  • Sammons, Jeffrey L. Heinrich Heine: a modern biography. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1979.
    The definitive modern English language biography of Heine.

  • Draper, Hal. The Complete Poems of Heinrich Heine: a modern English version. Cambridge: Suhrkamp/Insel Publishers Boston, 1982.
    A surprisingly skillful verse translation of all of Heine's poems, including the Lyrisches Intermezzo, a lifetime labor of love which was apparently a sideline from his main work as a Marxist author and activist(!). A review of this book in the New York Times contains a succinct description of Heine's poetic career and the translations in this book.
  • About Robert Schumann:

  • Fischer-Dieskau, Dietrich (trans. Reinhard G. Pauly). Robert Schumann, Words and Music: the vocal compositions. Portland, OR: Amadeus Press, 1988.
    A biography of Schumann with a special emphasis on all of his vocal output (songs, operas and oratorios), written with surprising depth of insight by one of Schumann's greatest interpreters.

  • About the song cycle:

    Recommended editions for the music (though see above for comments):
  • Ozawa Kakuzo ed. Poet's Love op. 48 for Voice and Piano. (Available in the Original Version for High Voice, Medium, and Low voice editions). Munich: G. Henle Verlag, 2005. HN 549.

  • Köhler, Hans Joachim, ed. Dichterliebe: nach Gedichten von Heinrich Heine : Opus 48 für Singstimme und Klavier (Original Version for High Voice). Frankfurt: C.F. Peters, 1986. EP 9537.
    This is a new edition that Peters has brought out. Dichterliebe is also available as part of an anthology of 77 songs in the Friedländer edition which is available in arrangements for high, medium and low voices. Unfortunately, none of the alternate arrangements transpose every song an equal distance.

  • Komar, Arthur, ed. Dichterliebe: an authoritative score, historical background, essays in analysis, views and comments. New York: W.W. Norton, 1971.

  • Friedländer, Max, ed. German Lieder Medium/Low Voice, Part II. CD-ROM. King of Prussia, PA: CD Sheet Music, 2000.
    An on-line version of the aforementioned Friedländer editions of Dichterliebe can be browsed at IMSLP.

  • Jones, Glendower, ed. Dichterliebe. Fayetteville, AR: Classical Vocal Reprints, 2012.
    Includes the four discarded Heine settings. Medium Voice, transposed a Major Second down

  • Dichterliebe: Faksimile nach dem Autograph in der Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Preußischer Kulturbesitz. Laaber: Laaber-Verlag, 2006.
    A facsimile of the composer's working manuscript of the 20 song version of the song cycle.
  • Recommended editions for the poem texts:
  • Heine, Heinrich. Buch der Lieder. Hoffman und Campe, 1827.
    The first edition of Heine's landmark anthology. Schumann himself used a copy of this edition to obtain his poem texts. The Berlin State Library has posted a scan of the 1827 edition on line. The German Text Archive has a copy of this scan with transcriptions of each page.

  • Schanze, Helmut and Schulte, Krischan, eds. Robert Schumann: New Edition of the Complete Works. Series VIII, Vol. 2: Literary text used in solo songs, part songs, and works for vocal declamation. Mainz: Schott Music International, 2002.
    A volume of the complete texts for all of Schumann's music, sorted by poet, with comparisons of Schumann's texts with the original poems. Very promising in its comprehensive scope and carefully annotated, but unfortunately a significant number of typographical errors limits its usefulness as an authoritative source. Does contain biographical sketches of the poets in English and German.

  • Glass, Beaumont. Schumann's Complete Song Texts. Geneseo, NY: Leyerle Publications, 2002.
    An edited set of the complete texts to all of the Schumann songs and vocal chamber music, sorted by title, which includes IPA phoneticization of all the original texts, a word-for-word translation into English and a more poetic translation, line by line. This set includes some of the variants between the poem originals and Schumann's song texts.

  • IPA Source texts and phonetic transcriptions
    Bard Suverkop's compendium of songs with IPA transcriptions of the phonetics and word by word translations of the song texts. This database is comprehensive, but a subscription is required to get all of the texts.

  • Celia Sgroi's texts and translations to Schumann song cycles

  • Lied and Art Song texts and translations
    Emily Ezust's indispensable web site of art song texts, with English language translations by baritone (not composer!) Paul Hindemith.
  • Books about Schumann's songs and about Dichterliebe
  • Finson, Jon W. Robert Schumann: the book of songs. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007.
    The most recent comprehensive English language survey of Schumann lieder, which also reflects the latest musicological scholarship.

  • Hallmark, Rufus E. The Genesis of Dichterliebe: a source study. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Research Press, 1979.
    An expanded version of Prof. Hallmark's doctoral thesis, taking the composer's draft and sketch materials to open a window into Schumann's compositional method with the Dichterliebe songs. Long out of print, but a scanned copy is on-line at Archive.org.

  • Lehmann, Lotte. Eighteen Song Cycles: studies in their interpretation. London: Cassel & Company Ltd., 1945.
    This is a collection of introductory essays to eighteen great song cycles, including Dichterliebe. The essays are collected from translations published elsewhere. Lehmann was one of the great Wagner sopranos of the 20th century, and she provides some moderately useful suggestions on phrasing and approach along with useful descriptions of the background of the songs (sort of like a Method actor's motivation). Her explanations are sometimes surprisingly simplistic but she has some advice on German language phrasing which is useful for a non-speaker like me.

  • Miller, Richard. Singing Schumann: an interpretive guide for performers. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
    A useful guide to interpreting Schumann songs from a respected voice teacher at Oberlin College. Miller was a bit categorical in some of his judgments about appropriate interpretation. I don't always agree with some of his opinions, but there are many useful insights in this source.

  • Moore, Gerald. Poet's love: the songs and cycles of Schumann. London: Hamish Hamilton, 1981.
    A song-by-song analysis of Schumann's songs, taken in order from the Peters edition of complete songs. The book along with the Fischer-Dieskau biographical study offers invaluable advice on practical aspects of performance from the most important song accompanist of the 20th century. This is essential reading for the prospective performer of these cycles.

  • Perrey, Beate Julia. Schumann's Dichterliebe and Early Romantic Poetics: fragmentation of desire. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

  • Rosen, Charles. The Romantic Generation. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995.
    A masterly essay from an extraordinary pianist and extraordinary writer. Rosen presents a sort of unified field theory of the Romantic Age, spanning multiple disciplines but focusing on music. Dichterliebe gets very extensive, somewhat unorthodox and fascinating analysis.

  • Sams, Eric. The Songs of Robert Schumann. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993.
    Sams was one of the central Schumann scholars of the 20th century, and his comprehensive guide to Schumann songs is filled with a wealth of interpretive detail, along with skillful prose translations of the texts.

  • Schiøtz, Aksel. The Singer and his Art. New York: Harper & Row, 1969.
    Another guide to singing, from technique to repertoire. Schiøtz shares the benefit of his experience as one of the great singers and teachers of the 20th century in modest, lucid prose.
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    For more information:

    About the poet

  • Wikipedia page

  • Heine's poems (Project Gutenberg in Germany)

  • Heinrich-Heine-Portal
    German only; a vast digital repository, including the major historical critical editions of Heine’s works and digitized images and manuscripts from various libraries and archives.
  • About the composer

  • Robert Schumann Research Institute
    An organization linked to the Robert Schumann Society of Düsseldorf and at work on publishing a New Robert Schumann Complete Edition. As of 2023, they have published volume 1 of their song edition and songs for multiple solo voices, but not yet Dichterliebe.

  • Robert Schumann Society of Zwickau
    Home page for a web site dedicated to Zwickau's most famous son.

  • NPR Music: Robert Schumann
  • About the song cycle

  • Saint Paul Sunday notes on Dichterliebe
    A presentation on the song cycle based on Thomas Hampson's essay on the genesis of the work, including texts and translations with plot summaries of the songs.

  • Notes on the Genesis of Schumann's Dichterliebe
    A discussion of the extant evidence around the genesis of the song cycle, written by American baritone and scholar Thomas Hampson.

  • Poisoned Love: Robert Schumann's Dichterliebe
    A discussion of the poems and the setting with specific notes on favorite recordings and renditions of individual songs written by Jenny Camilleri
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    Dr. Jimbob's Home -> Classical Music -> Robert Schumann -> Dichterliebe, Op. 48

    Last updated: August 12, 2023 by James C.S. Liu.

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