The Art of Song - Part III

Where would this lecture recital sketch be without Robert Schumann's "Mondnacht" with text by Joseph von Eichendorff? In addition to providing language contrast, the title (translated "Moonlit Night") is consistent with the celestial theme (sun, moon, and stars - see?) From the 1840 song cycle, Liederkreis, Op. 39, this piece may be most famous for its embedded code. Schumann used the pitches E-B-E repeatedly. The significance? "Ehe" is the German word for "marriage" and in German music, B-flat=B while B-natural=H. This song cycle is from the year Robert and Clara were married. The text reads as follows: It was as though the sky had softly kissed the earth, so that she, in a gleam of blossom, had now to dream of him.

The breeze ran through the fields, the ears of corn gently swayed, the woods rustled faintly, the night was so starry and clear.

And my soul spread wide its wings, flew over the silent land, as if it were flying home.

Beautiful text yet it leaves us to wonder - who is the girl? Who is he that appears in her dreams? Where does this story take place? What time of day is it? Where is home, as mentioned in the last line? Where is the character who is speaking? Listen to Hans Hotter and Gerald Moore in this stirring rendition.

In conclusion, three composers: Copland, Chausson, and Schumann. Three languages: English, French, and German. A rough celestial theme: sun, moon, and stars (or at least nocturnal with all texts taking place at the end of the day). Three scenes portraying love: love lost, love found, and love eternal.

Previously: The Art of Song - Part I The Art of Song - Part II