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Five Rückert Songs

Gustav Mahler (b. 1860 - d. 1911)

Ruby Hughes

Ruby Hughes

Composer
Gustav Mahler (b. 1860 - d. 1911)
Composition Year
-
Work Movements
1.Blicke mir nicht in die Lieder!
2.Ich atmet’ einen linden Duft
4.Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen
4.Um Mitternacht
5.Liebst du um Schönheit
Artists
Julius Drake [piano], Ruby Hughes [mezzo-soprano]

Programme Note Writer:
© Ian Fox

Friedrich Rückert [1788-1866] was born near Coburg, Germany, and became a distinguished linguist and poet. He was Professor of Oriental Languages at Erlangen and then in Berlin, retiring in 1848. He wrote a Persian grammar and provided many translations from Eastern literature which became standard German texts. However, it was the book of his own love lyrics, Liebesfrühling [1823], which provided him with a far wider audience and a lasting reputation; among other composers Schubert set four of these poems, Schumann twenty?one and Richard Strauss six. In the summer of 1901, by which time he had finished his Fourth Symphony, Mahler decided to set some of Rückert's poems. Like Berlioz Nuits d’été they were originally composed with piano accompaniment, he orchestrated five of them and they were first performed as a group in Vienna in 1905.  

The first song Blicke mir nicht in die Lieder! seems to look forward to the great symphonic poem Das Lied von der Erde with its restless, surging energy as the poet asks that his beloved should not look at his work in progress, like the bees one should wait for the completed honeycomb.  This is followed by the serene Ich atmet’ einen linden Duft as the poet rhapsodises on the perfume from a branch of a lime tree placed in his room. In the third song, Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen, the poet tells how he has abandoned the world in order to find solace in solitude and song; Mahler creates a magical rhapsody akin to his symphonies. The pensive mood remains for Um Mitternacht as Rückert tussles with dark nocturnal thoughts: Oh Lord, you keep watch over life and death at midnight. Mahler dedicated the last song, Liebst du um Schönheit, to his wife, Alma.  She later recounted that she had been playing a lot of Wagner during her first pregnancy in 1903 and that he wrote this charming little love song and slipped the manuscript into her score of Die Walküre  but she did not open it for days so he had to reveal it to her; she was overwhelmed with joy and (they) played it over twenty times that day!

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Five Rückert Songs

Composer: Gustav Mahler (b. 1860 - d. 1911)
Performance date: Tuesday 2nd July 2013
Venue: St. Brendan's Church, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland

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Composer Gustav Mahler (b. 1860 - d. 1911)
Work Title Five Rückert Songs
Composition Year -
Work Movements 1.Blicke mir nicht in die Lieder!
2.Ich atmet’ einen linden Duft
4.Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen
4.Um Mitternacht
5.Liebst du um Schönheit
Artist(s) Julius Drake [piano], Ruby Hughes [mezzo-soprano]
Performance Date Tuesday 2nd July 2013
Performance Venue St. Brendan's Church, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland
Event Stars in the Afternoon
Duration 00:18:46
Recording Engineer Damian Chennells, RTÉ lyric fm
Instrumentation Category Duo
Instrumentation S-solo, pf
Programme Note Writer © Ian Fox

Friedrich Rückert [1788-1866] was born near Coburg, Germany, and became a distinguished linguist and poet. He was Professor of Oriental Languages at Erlangen and then in Berlin, retiring in 1848. He wrote a Persian grammar and provided many translations from Eastern literature which became standard German texts. However, it was the book of his own love lyrics, Liebesfrühling [1823], which provided him with a far wider audience and a lasting reputation; among other composers Schubert set four of these poems, Schumann twenty?one and Richard Strauss six. In the summer of 1901, by which time he had finished his Fourth Symphony, Mahler decided to set some of Rückert's poems. Like Berlioz Nuits d’été they were originally composed with piano accompaniment, he orchestrated five of them and they were first performed as a group in Vienna in 1905.  

The first song Blicke mir nicht in die Lieder! seems to look forward to the great symphonic poem Das Lied von der Erde with its restless, surging energy as the poet asks that his beloved should not look at his work in progress, like the bees one should wait for the completed honeycomb.  This is followed by the serene Ich atmet’ einen linden Duft as the poet rhapsodises on the perfume from a branch of a lime tree placed in his room. In the third song, Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen, the poet tells how he has abandoned the world in order to find solace in solitude and song; Mahler creates a magical rhapsody akin to his symphonies. The pensive mood remains for Um Mitternacht as Rückert tussles with dark nocturnal thoughts: Oh Lord, you keep watch over life and death at midnight. Mahler dedicated the last song, Liebst du um Schönheit, to his wife, Alma.  She later recounted that she had been playing a lot of Wagner during her first pregnancy in 1903 and that he wrote this charming little love song and slipped the manuscript into her score of Die Walküre  but she did not open it for days so he had to reveal it to her; she was overwhelmed with joy and (they) played it over twenty times that day!