For copying and pasting:
I'm reading a Schubert biography, writing down the music that's written in each chapter, putting it on playlists, and then dipping into the playlists.
This is the website of the author of the book. It is a BIG chunky teal biography that is very pleasant to hold and a real treasure. It is my first Schubert biography.
The following is a record of my investigations into the song "Hier Umarmen Sich Getreue Gatten."
The text, my translation, translation comments, and text comments
"Hier umarmen sich getreue Gatten" (Schiller) (D. 60)
This poem is one stanza in a much larger poem. Find it here.
The poem is called "Elysium" I guess. Elysium is the ancient Greek version of heaven.
Lieder.net records ONLY Schubert settings of this poem - a whole bunch of single stanza ones in 1813, and a full one a few years later
3 äöüß ÄÖÜẞ
In the Bodley biography, I found out that these were all an assignment by Salieri. (Obviously except for the final piece written years later.)
Okay. I have listened to the song deeply many times, and the rest of the songs in the exercise shallowly. Here is the playlist.
In listening to the track on its own, I thought, okay, this is nice composing, he does some intelligent choices... WHAT? ... WHAT?? WHAT???
The line about the skeletons spooked the hell out of me. A real Danny Elfman moment. Okay, it's not actually about skeletons. But it is such a striking and unmistakable musical memento mori. It's like you're at a party with a bunch of normal people, and one guy is just the grim reaper. And every time that line comes up you guys make "eye contact." OH MY GOD! So scary. And then he repeats it TWICE! In CLOSE SUCCESSION! He doesn't do that to any other line.
To be honest, I don't 100% remember why the book brought this up the first time. I think it was in the context of his mother's death. His mother had died the previous year. But he also wrote death-oriented songs before that.
Anyway, I got that playlist together and listened to all the songs, and read along with the translations. It was nice music. It was very, um, holistic? just written well I guess is what I'm trying to say, the momentum is all inter-contained elegantly. And there's some really fun text painting in "Dessen Fahnen Donnerstürme waften" that the performers on this record do particularly well.
There is NO Danny Elfman moment anywhere else in this assignment. NOT ONE!
One of the qualities of the Danny Elfman moment is that it's in unison. And in that case, the second instance of "Undendliche Freude" in D. 51 would qualify. And then D 54 on the same text is fugal or canonical or something.
Schubert had really rigorous training with Salieri, you know.
The song is a nice throwback to his school assignment. It's cool to see Schubert approaching the same text with his own freedom. The first stanza is completely different, and features Schubert's "bach" figures in the piano (I mean "River" not JS). BTW, in the Salieri assignment, he's writing for three voices. And in the "song" D 584 ... Oh I already said that lmao. Well it's worth pointing out.
Anyway... it's a f*ckton more interesting and sounds a f*ckton more like Schubert. So I sure am glad I made it to the next chapter of the Bodley assignment and found out it was a Salieri assingment. I'm not a Salieri hater. I'm glad for his powerful influence and expectially grateful that Schubert inherited the same song tradition from Italy that Mozart also got (if I remember correctly). Martini is in both Salieri's and Mozart's musical lineage.
I'm just chatting as the song cycle plays. Very sinful I know but I'm just revisiting it for now. I like to write about it. I wanted to say... the Dessen song is almost the same melody part between the assignment and the song, and it's super fun to compare Schubert's styles. So if you're looking for a fun Schubert activity... well in fact just comparing these assignments to the song is a really fun activity...
Okay... so "Hier Umarmen Sich" doesn't start the same. But the SECOND STANZA is very similar. Including YES the danny elfman verse, and the really obvious repetition.
The singer on this recording is aware of this rhetorical quality, and gives the Danny Elfman voice in a feisty, malicious tone, which might be the intention. It sounds much colder with the fellows singing the Salieri assignment. I'm inclined to prefer the cold way, but I tend to bias towards whatever I heard first, so. I don't hate the malicious way. He also injects all the "fest" music with an ironic tone. I appreciate that after hearing the more formal version. It confirms my suspicions were correct, about the uniqueness of that line, how it discredits its neighbor. So cool that Schubert can get that out of this poem. I wonder if Schiller intended that effect? Schubert sure picked it up anyway.
He's very lucious to the "Liebgekost" line too. Both Schubert and the singer.
And then he does some crazy stuff in the piano coda. It reminds me a lot of the maneuover by the Who at the end of "I can see for Miles."
It's really cool. I like this context. When I focus on this, I'll consider both versions equally, probably end up playing with the piano one more. And I don't feel like I need to focus much on the first stanza. I could go into Liebgekost but I don't feel like it. It would be about the treatment of dated lines.
Okay prudence is yelling at me I gotta go. This was great I LOVED it.
I don't want to clog up this page but I'm going to. Today I read more from the Bodley book and my craving is to sit down and make lists from that chapter. Make a lot of tables. I think that making thoughtful lists is more helpful than just writing down everything mentioned. (Obvi)
Gosh what did I read about today? The book is grand ... and well-written ... but it doesn't avoid being academically boring at times. Especially descriptions of music that I haven't heard. Even when those are super cinematic, they just don't do you much good without having heard the pieces a lot.