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Die schöne Müllerin D.795

Franz Schubert (b. 1797 - d. 1828)

Robin Tritschler (photo credit: Sussie Ahlburg)

Robin Tritschler (photo credit: Sussie Ahlburg)

Composer
Franz Schubert (b. 1797 - d. 1828)
Composition Year
1824
Work Movements
1. Das Wandern
2. Wohin?
3. Halt!
4. Dankgesang an den Bach
5. Am Feierabend
6. Der Neugierige
7. Ungeduld
8. Morgengruss
9. Des Müllers Blumen
10. Tränenregen
11. Mein!
12. Pause
13. Mit dem grünen Lautenbande
14. Der Jäger
15. Eifersucht und Stolz
16. Die liebe Farbe
17. Die böse Farbe
18. Trockne Blumen
19. Der Müller und der Bach
20. Des Baches Wiegenlied
Artists
Robin Tritschler [tenor], Graham Johnson [piano]

Programme Note Writer:
© Ian Fox

Beethoven created a landmark in musical history when he composed An die ferne Geliebte in 1816.  In it he virtually invented  the song cycle, a group of  linked songs set to six poems written by A. J. Jeitteles.  It was the task of Schubert to take this idea and develop it into a much larger canvas, in his two great song cycles, Die Schöne Müllerin and Winterreise.  Schubert sets his songs individually, without musical bridges, but he still creates a cohesive cycle through tempo, mood and key-structures, ensuring the whole cycle has an overall effect, certainly of far greater total significance than just the individual songs themselves.

The origins of Die Schöne Müllerin also date back to around 1816. There was a fashionable party game,  particularly played at intellectual gatherings in the home of Privy Councillor von Stägemann, in which guests took on the role of a  character and had to produce verses for his or her part on the spot. Literature was of great interest at the time, especially with the growth of the Romantic movement,  and it was popular sport to devise simple, folk-like verses, reflecting pastoral themes. One of this group was Wilhelm Müller (Miller) and it was hardly surprising that he  created little poems about the life of a country miller. He was the only professional writer among the circle, so he took his ideas a step further and wrote a set of twenty-three poems about his character. He then added a prologue and epilogue in rhyming couplets, poking fun at this attempt to produce rustic verse. They were published in 1821.

Schubert was already a successful composer of songs, using a wide range of poetical texts. It seems he was delighted when he discovered Müller’s volume and eagerly set about putting them to music. He would appear to have spent much of the  summer of 1823 on the project. He wrote to one friend  at the end of November that he had composed a few mill songs to be published in four books. Sure enough, the first  two books were published in February and March of 1824, then three more appeared that August, one more than the composer had originally planned.  Schubert  removed Müller’s Introduction and Epilogue and also dropped three of the original poems. 

Schubert extensively uses a simple strophic style in eight of the songs, where the same music is used for each verse of the song as with a hymn. However despite the  simple  format, the songs are just as poignant as those used  a greater degree of variety. The story is simple enough. A young miller falls in love with the pretty miller’s daughter at another mill. At first he thinks she responds but she then switches her affection to a young huntsman. The distraught lover throws himself into the millstream. The longest strophic songs are the opening and closing compositions, running to five verses each. The accompaniments are full of subtleties, too. Schubert reflects the mood in his wonderfully imaginative writing for the piano. He captures the moods of the characters, paints pictures of the mill and stream, and supports the drama with intense poignancy, particularly in the later songs; this is no mere accompaniment but an equal partnership  with the singer. 

The story begins in an up-beat mood, as our hero sets off on his wanderings, with the rapid gyrations of the mill-wheel evident in the piano. In the second song, Wohin we meet the all-important millstream with voice and piano both reflecting the endless flow of the water. In the next songs we reach the mill, meet the girl and witness our hero falling in love, leading to the song most often heard on its own Ungeduld – I’d like to carve her name on every tree and stone …. At first matters go well and the next few songs see the young couple’s  growing friendship. Then, in No. 14, we meet the enemy !  At first there is just jealousy but this moves soon to real torment, where the once-adored colour of green becomes die böse Farbe the hated colour (No.17). Desolation quickly follows and the next song is the emotional climax of the cycle: Trockne Blumen (Withered flowers). All the flowers she had given him will lie on his grave. It is the essence of the Romantic style, with its tales of broken-hearted lovers. The miller and the brook converse in the penultimate song, as the stream envelops out hero in its waters. Finally comes the haunting Brook’s Lullaby , a nocturnal lullaby Weary wanderer, now you are home.  In lesser hands a five-verse slow-paced strophic song could become monotonous but instead Schubert creates something timeless, even with a touch of sublimity, as he brings his tragic tale to a serene close.

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Die schöne Müllerin D.795

Composer: Franz Schubert (b. 1797 - d. 1828)
Performance date: Friday 1st July 2011
Venue: St. Brendan's Church, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland

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Composer Franz Schubert (b. 1797 - d. 1828)
Work Title Die schöne Müllerin D.795
Composition Year 1824
Work Movements 1. Das Wandern
2. Wohin?
3. Halt!
4. Dankgesang an den Bach
5. Am Feierabend
6. Der Neugierige
7. Ungeduld
8. Morgengruss
9. Des Müllers Blumen
10. Tränenregen
11. Mein!
12. Pause
13. Mit dem grünen Lautenbande
14. Der Jäger
15. Eifersucht und Stolz
16. Die liebe Farbe
17. Die böse Farbe
18. Trockne Blumen
19. Der Müller und der Bach
20. Des Baches Wiegenlied
Lyrics / Translation Set of poems by Wilhelm Müller [1794-1827]
Language German
Artist(s) Robin Tritschler [tenor], Graham Johnson [piano]
Performance Date Friday 1st July 2011
Performance Venue St. Brendan's Church, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland
Event Stars in the Afternoon
Duration 01:04:39
Recording Engineer Anton Timoney, RTÉ lyric fm
Instrumentation Category Duo
Instrumentation T-solo, pf
Programme Note Writer © Ian Fox
Beethoven created a landmark in musical history when he composed An die ferne Geliebte in 1816.  In it he virtually invented  the song cycle, a group of  linked songs set to six poems written by A. J. Jeitteles.  It was the task of Schubert to take this idea and develop it into a much larger canvas, in his two great song cycles, Die Schöne Müllerin and Winterreise.  Schubert sets his songs individually, without musical bridges, but he still creates a cohesive cycle through tempo, mood and key-structures, ensuring the whole cycle has an overall effect, certainly of far greater total significance than just the individual songs themselves.

The origins of Die Schöne Müllerin also date back to around 1816. There was a fashionable party game,  particularly played at intellectual gatherings in the home of Privy Councillor von Stägemann, in which guests took on the role of a  character and had to produce verses for his or her part on the spot. Literature was of great interest at the time, especially with the growth of the Romantic movement,  and it was popular sport to devise simple, folk-like verses, reflecting pastoral themes. One of this group was Wilhelm Müller (Miller) and it was hardly surprising that he  created little poems about the life of a country miller. He was the only professional writer among the circle, so he took his ideas a step further and wrote a set of twenty-three poems about his character. He then added a prologue and epilogue in rhyming couplets, poking fun at this attempt to produce rustic verse. They were published in 1821.

Schubert was already a successful composer of songs, using a wide range of poetical texts. It seems he was delighted when he discovered Müller’s volume and eagerly set about putting them to music. He would appear to have spent much of the  summer of 1823 on the project. He wrote to one friend  at the end of November that he had composed a few mill songs to be published in four books. Sure enough, the first  two books were published in February and March of 1824, then three more appeared that August, one more than the composer had originally planned.  Schubert  removed Müller’s Introduction and Epilogue and also dropped three of the original poems. 

Schubert extensively uses a simple strophic style in eight of the songs, where the same music is used for each verse of the song as with a hymn. However despite the  simple  format, the songs are just as poignant as those used  a greater degree of variety. The story is simple enough. A young miller falls in love with the pretty miller’s daughter at another mill. At first he thinks she responds but she then switches her affection to a young huntsman. The distraught lover throws himself into the millstream. The longest strophic songs are the opening and closing compositions, running to five verses each. The accompaniments are full of subtleties, too. Schubert reflects the mood in his wonderfully imaginative writing for the piano. He captures the moods of the characters, paints pictures of the mill and stream, and supports the drama with intense poignancy, particularly in the later songs; this is no mere accompaniment but an equal partnership  with the singer. 

The story begins in an up-beat mood, as our hero sets off on his wanderings, with the rapid gyrations of the mill-wheel evident in the piano. In the second song, Wohin we meet the all-important millstream with voice and piano both reflecting the endless flow of the water. In the next songs we reach the mill, meet the girl and witness our hero falling in love, leading to the song most often heard on its own Ungeduld – I’d like to carve her name on every tree and stone …. At first matters go well and the next few songs see the young couple’s  growing friendship. Then, in No. 14, we meet the enemy !  At first there is just jealousy but this moves soon to real torment, where the once-adored colour of green becomes die böse Farbe the hated colour (No.17). Desolation quickly follows and the next song is the emotional climax of the cycle: Trockne Blumen (Withered flowers). All the flowers she had given him will lie on his grave. It is the essence of the Romantic style, with its tales of broken-hearted lovers. The miller and the brook converse in the penultimate song, as the stream envelops out hero in its waters. Finally comes the haunting Brook’s Lullaby , a nocturnal lullaby Weary wanderer, now you are home.  In lesser hands a five-verse slow-paced strophic song could become monotonous but instead Schubert creates something timeless, even with a touch of sublimity, as he brings his tragic tale to a serene close.