Robert Schumann (1810-1856)

Dictherliebe (1840). song cycle (12 songs), based on poetry by Heinrich Heine.

Song No. 1: In the wonderfully beautiful month of May

Im wunderschönen Monat Mai,
Als alle Knospen sprangen,
Da ist in meinem Herzen
Die Liebe aufgegangen.
Im wunderschönen Monat Mai,
Als alle Vögel sangen,
Da hab’ ich ihr gestanden
Mein Sehnen und Verlangen.
In the wonderfully beautiful month of May
When all the buds are bursting open,
There, from my own heart,
Bursts forth my own love.
In the wonderfully beautiful month of May
When all the birds are singing,
So have I confessed to her
My yearning and my longing.

Listen to the first interval and judge its dissonance/consonance:


How about the first idea in the introduction:


How about the whole introduction:


How about the end:


Q1.1 Does the introduction or ending provide a cadence or a tonic key?

Q1.2 In what ways does the introduction vary? In what ways does it vary in the ending?

Q1.3 What is the most important consequence of not having a tonic key clearly established? (hint: think about the narratives we have developed for tonality, what does tonality provide to the listener?)

Now think about the way the melody of the verse enters? How does it resemble the introduction?


Now listen to the first part of the verse:


For the first time we hear a cadence. Does this mean we have a tonic? or is this a fleeting moment? If we were listening to a classical piece, we would expect the composer to confirm the tonic, but instead we get:


and then we return to the theme of the introduction.

 Q1.4 What is the relationship between the word “longing” and the fleeting tonic?

Song No. 2: From my tears sprout forth

Aus meinen Tränen sprießen
Viel blühende Blumen hervor,
meine Seufzer werden
Ein Nachtigallenchor.
Und wenn du mich lieb hast, Kindchen,
Schenk’ ich dir die Blumen all’,
Und vor deinem Fenster soll klingen
Das Lied der Nachtigall.
From my tears sprout forth
Many blooming flowers,
And my sighing become joined with
The chorus of the nightingales.
And if you love me, dear child,
I will send you so many flowers;
And before your window should sound
The song of the nightingale.


First of all let’s consider the ending of the previous song and the beginning of this one. Do we get some resolution?


Now let’s consider the first verse of the second song. Look for a cadence:


All of the verses have similar “cadences”.

Q2.1 What is unusual about these cadences?

Q2.2 What possible meanings might they have?


Song No. 16: From my tears sprout forth

Die alten, bösen Lieder,
Die Träume schlimm und arg,
Die laßt uns jetzt begraben,
Holt einen großen Sarg.
Hinein leg’ ich gar manches,
Doch sag’ ich noch nicht, was;
Der Sarg muß sein noch größer,
Wie’s Heidelberger Faß.
Und holt eine Totenbahre,
Von Brettern fest und dick;
Auch muß sie sein noch länger,
Als wie zu Mainz die Brück’.
Und holt mir auch zwölf Riesen,
Die müssen noch stärker sein
Als wie der heil’ge Christoph
Im Dom zu Köln am Rhein.
Die sollen den Sarg forttragen,
Und senken ins Meer hinab;
Denn solchem großen Sarge
Gebührt ein großes Grab.
Wißt ihr, warum der Sarg wohl
So groß und schwer mag sein?
Ich legt’ auch meine Liebe
Und meinen Schmerz hinein.
The old, angry songs,
The dreams angry and wicked–
Let us now bury them.
Fetch a large coffin.
In it will I lay many things,
But I will still not say quite what.
The coffin must be still larger
As the cask in Heidelberg.
And fetch a death bier
And planks firm and thick;
They must be still longer
Than the bridge to Mainz.
And fetch me, too, twelve giants;
They must be still stronger
Than that strong St. Christopher
In the Cathedral to Cologne on the Rhine.
They should carry the coffin away
And sink it down deep in the sea,
Since such a great coffin
Deserves a great grave.
Do you know why the coffin
Must be so large and heavy?
I sank with it my love
And my pain, deep within.

Q3.1 How does the term irony describe the relationship between the text and song? 

Q3.2 Why do you think the piano finishes the lied instead of the singer?

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