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Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen

Gustav Mahler (b. 1860 - d. 1911)

Ruby Hughes (photo credit: Sim Canetty Clarke)

Ruby Hughes (photo credit: Sim Canetty Clarke)

Composer
Gustav Mahler (b. 1860 - d. 1911)
Composition Year
1884
Work Movements
1. Wenn mein Schatz Hochzeit macht
2. Ging heut morgen über’s Feld
3. Ich hab’ ein glühend Messer
4. Die zwei blauen Augen
Artists
Julius Drake [piano], Ruby Hughes [mezzo-soprano]

Programme Note Writer:
© Francis Humphrys

Yesterday evening I was alone with her, both of us awaiting the new year’s arrival almost without exchanging a word. Her thoughts were not bent on the present, and when the bell chimed and tears gushed from her eyes, it overwhelmed me that I, I might not dry them. She went into the adjacent room and stood for a while at the window, and when she returned, still weeping, the nameless grief had risen up between us like an everlasting partition-wall, and there was nothing I could do but press her hand and go....I have written a cycle of songs, six of them so far, all dedicated to her. She does not know them. What can they tell her but what she knows? The idea of the songs as a whole is that a wayfaring man, who has been stricken by fate, now sets forth into the world travelling wherever his road may lead him. ...I have begged her forgiveness for everything, casting my pride and egoism from me. She is everything that is lovable in this world. I would shed every drop of my blood for her. But I do know that I must go away... I shall almost certainly leave her without so much as a word of farewell for a whole month i haven’t set eyes on her except at rehearsals... Sometimes when I start up out of my sleep, I simply cannot believe it. Mahler letters to Fritz Löhr,1885

Her name was Johanna Richter. She was twenty-two years old when she met Mahler, she was a dramatic soprano in the Court Theatre at Cassel when Mahler took up the post of second conductor. Their love affair might just have part of their life experiences, but the cycle of songs with both text and music written by the wayfaring conductor-composer-poet has come down to us as the four (no longer six) songs of Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen.

They clearly stand in succession to the great Lieder tradition of Schubert with marked echoes of the rejected lover of Winterreise. The specific parallels are unmistakable – unreal visions of love, suicidal yearnings, walking rhythms and, of course, that linden tree. As Mahler’s songs spread the motif of the disillusioned lover across a cyclical mental journey, they kindle memories of Schubert’s great cycle at every turn – the only complaint its brevity.

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Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen

Composer: Gustav Mahler (b. 1860 - d. 1911)
Performance date: Tuesday 1st July 2014
Venue: St. Brendan's Church, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland

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http://archive.westcorkmusic.ie/details/view/cmf/391

Composer Gustav Mahler (b. 1860 - d. 1911)
Work Title Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen
Composition Year 1884
Work Movements 1. Wenn mein Schatz Hochzeit macht
2. Ging heut morgen über’s Feld
3. Ich hab’ ein glühend Messer
4. Die zwei blauen Augen
Artist(s) Julius Drake [piano], Ruby Hughes [mezzo-soprano]
Performance Date Tuesday 1st July 2014
Performance Venue St. Brendan's Church, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland
Event Crespo Recital Series
Duration 00:17:54
Recording Engineer Richard McCullough, RTE
Instrumentation Category Duo
Instrumentation S-solo, pf
Programme Note Writer © Francis Humphrys

Yesterday evening I was alone with her, both of us awaiting the new year’s arrival almost without exchanging a word. Her thoughts were not bent on the present, and when the bell chimed and tears gushed from her eyes, it overwhelmed me that I, I might not dry them. She went into the adjacent room and stood for a while at the window, and when she returned, still weeping, the nameless grief had risen up between us like an everlasting partition-wall, and there was nothing I could do but press her hand and go....I have written a cycle of songs, six of them so far, all dedicated to her. She does not know them. What can they tell her but what she knows? The idea of the songs as a whole is that a wayfaring man, who has been stricken by fate, now sets forth into the world travelling wherever his road may lead him. ...I have begged her forgiveness for everything, casting my pride and egoism from me. She is everything that is lovable in this world. I would shed every drop of my blood for her. But I do know that I must go away... I shall almost certainly leave her without so much as a word of farewell for a whole month i haven’t set eyes on her except at rehearsals... Sometimes when I start up out of my sleep, I simply cannot believe it. Mahler letters to Fritz Löhr,1885

Her name was Johanna Richter. She was twenty-two years old when she met Mahler, she was a dramatic soprano in the Court Theatre at Cassel when Mahler took up the post of second conductor. Their love affair might just have part of their life experiences, but the cycle of songs with both text and music written by the wayfaring conductor-composer-poet has come down to us as the four (no longer six) songs of Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen.

They clearly stand in succession to the great Lieder tradition of Schubert with marked echoes of the rejected lover of Winterreise. The specific parallels are unmistakable – unreal visions of love, suicidal yearnings, walking rhythms and, of course, that linden tree. As Mahler’s songs spread the motif of the disillusioned lover across a cyclical mental journey, they kindle memories of Schubert’s great cycle at every turn – the only complaint its brevity.