Printer Friendly

Anthology of Goethe Songs.

The last decade has witnessed an outstanding array of publications on nineteenth-century lieder, with scholars such as Susan Youens, Richard Kramer, and Deborah Stein demonstrating that these works can be studied through a variety of historical and analytical approaches. The two editions of lieder discussed in this review, one a collection of settings of texts by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the other a facsimile of songs by Robert and Clara Schumann, are wonderful resources for the continued exploration of this rich, multifaceted genre.

Traditionally, studies of the lied have concentrated on the four major nineteenth-century composers, Franz Schubert, Schumann, Johannes Brahms, and Hugo Wolf. Minor composers, by comparison, are little discussed and their music even less frequently published or performed. To date, three volumes in the A-R Editions series Recent Researches in the Music of the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries have sought to address this lacuna: 100 Years of Eichendorff Songs (vol. 5; ed. Jurgen Thym [1983]), Famous Poets', Neglected Composers: Songs to Lyrics by Goethe, Heine, Morike, and Others (vol. 10; ed. J. W. Sneed [1992]), and now Richard D. Green's Anthology of Goethe Songs.

This collection contains twenty-two works that span the entire nineteenth century. The sources are first or early editions, many of which are held by American libraries. The represented composers include Carl Zelter, Johann Rudolf Zumsteeg, Wenzel Johann Tomaschek, Ferdinand Ries, Louis Spohr, Moritz Hauptmann, Bernhard Klein, Heinrich Marschner, Carl Loewe, Ferdinand Hiller, Robert Franz, Anton Rubinstein, Hans von Billow, Joseph Rheinberger, Arnold Mendelssohn, Ferruccio Busoni, Hans Pfitzner, Justus Hermann Wetzel, Nikolay Karlovich Medtner, and Othmar Schoeck. While many of these composers, including Franz and Loewe, are familiar to lieder scholars, the inclusion of others is somewhat surprising. Busoni, for example, wrote only twenty-one lieder, whereas many of the other composers wrote well over one hundred. (Marschner composed over 420!) Some of the composers are now remembered for their achievements in other genres or areas of music: Rheinberger is best known as an organ composer, von Bulow as a conductor, and Hauptmann as a theorist. The inclusion of such musicians adds an interesting dimension to this anthology, encouraging a renewed consideration of their achievements. Particularly valuable are the impressive number of unfamiliar songs using poems (such as Der Erlkonig, Das Veilchen, and Am Flusse) that are well known either in their own right or through famous settings by other composers.

While many of these songs are worthy of performance and detailed analysis, and while the anthology as a whole offers a tantalizing glimpse into a world of activity still not fully appreciated, it is disappointing that not a single woman composer is represented in the collection. Perhaps Green thought that the recent publication of anthologies of compositions, including lieder, by women provided adequate coverage. Alternatively, perhaps the decision to rely on prints (rather than manuscript sources) limited the choice of compositions by both female and male composers. Nevertheless, at least the introduction could have mentioned the women who used Goethe texts for their songs, including Fanny Hensel, Clara Schumann, and Louise Reichardt. Some of these women met and were themselves admired by Goethe, and, in particular, Goethe acknowledged the influence of Corona Elisabeth Wilhelmine Schroter (1751-1802) on his concept of drama. Schroter, a noted actress and singer, was among the earliest composers to set Der Erlkonig. (Thym, by comparison, does include a lied by Fanny Hensel in his anthology of Eichendorff settings.)

Green's preface offers an excellent overview of the aesthetics of the lied in the age of Goethe, including views on the genre by such contemporary lexicographers as Friedrich Arnold Brockhaus and Heinrich Christoph Koch. This discussion leads into a summary of Goethe's views on lieder, and the connections that he made between language and music. Green surveys Goethe's poetic language, making specific reference to the structure and imagery of the poems that serve as texts for the songs in this anthology. These settings also form the focal point for the introductory remarks on each composer. Despite their necessary brevity, these comments often make note of expressive nuances in the music (including the declamation and harmony in Rubinstein's Clarchens Lied) and discuss matters relating to performance (as, for example, the realization of the rhythm in Rheinberger's Nachtgesang).

The lieder themselves aptly illustrate the diversity of this genre, with examples ranging from simple folklike pieces to the more extensive, dramatic dialogue ballads. Correspondingly, the forms range from simple strophic to through composed. The volume also includes two ensemble lieder: Arnold Mendelssohn's Am Flusse calls for voice, lute, and piano, and Hauptmann's Der Fischer for voice, violin, and piano. Taken as a group, these songs (which are arranged in chronological order) also demonstrate changes in nineteenth-century compositional technique and style, including piano figuration and tonal language.

That so many different composers, using vastly different styles, responded to Goethe's poetry is an indisputable testament to the profundity of his works. This anthology thus contributes to an assessment of the far-reaching influence of Goethe, and is a particularly important contribution to the earlier anthologies of Goethe settings published by Max Friedlaender (Gedichte von Goethe in Compositionen seiner Zeitgenossen, 2 vols., Schriften der Goethe-Gesellschaft, 11, 31 [Weimar: Verlag der Goethe-Gesellschaft, 1896-1916; reprinted Hildesheim: Olms, 1975]). By concentrating on less well known composers, and by covering the entire nineteenth century, Green's volume offers an excellent supplement to Friedlaender's path-breaking collections.

The other anthology of lieder under review represents an entirely different type of collection: a facsimile edition of a manuscript containing thirteen songs by Robert and Clara Schumann. The songs by Robert include some of his most popular love songs, with four from Myrthen (op. 25), five from the Eichendorff Liederkreis (op. 39), and two from Zwolf Gedichte (op. 35). These are followed by two lieder by Clara, op. 13 nos. 3 and 5. The manuscript was discovered in 1987 at the Handschriftenabteilung der Landesbibliothek und Murhardschen Bibliothek der Stadt Kassel. The lieder, composed between 1840 and 1843, were copied into this album sometime between 1845 and 1849 by Carl Gottschalk (1802-1882), who worked in Dresden with Schumann. Schumann himself inscribed the volume, dedicating it to one of the most-esteemed singers of the early nineteenth-century, Wilhelmine Schroder-Devrient (1804-1860). Schumann had earlier dedicated Dichterliebe to this singer and had also presented her with a manuscript of Frauenliebe und Leben. Like the critic Ludwig Rellstab, Schumann also published glowing reviews of Schroder-Devrient's dramatic and intensely moving performances. (The singer's other admirers included Ludwig van Beethoven and the young Richard Wagner, and perhaps her most acclaimed achievement was her performances of Leonora in Fidelio.)

The volume is beautifully presented, complete with an ornate, slightly battered green-and-gold cover. Angelika Horstmann prepared the introduction, providing the sketchy background to the origins of the anthology; an overview of Schumann's attitude toward song; the influence of singers on his own compositions; a single, short paragraph noting Clara's activities as a song composer; and a brief biography of Schroder-Devrient. Although Horstmann notes Robert's praise for this singer, she does not mention Clara's admiration for her. In fact, Clara's diary includes a number of enthusiastic references to this woman's artistry and power, and on 5 April 1840, she noted that Schroder-Devrient was her "ideal in art? (Berthold Litzmann, Clara Schumann: An Artist's Life, Based on Material Found in Diaries and Letters, trans. and abbr. from 4th ed. by Grace E. Hadow, 2 vols. [London: Macmillan, 1913; reprint, New York: Vienna House, 1973], 1:291). Horstmann leaves open numerous questions concerning the collation of this anthology, including whether Schroder-Devrient was particularly fond of these works and whether she performed them. Other scholars might also seek to explain how the collection was assembled: Did Robert work with Clara and the copyist on the selection and ordering of the pieces? I wonder about the significance of the fact that the album's first and last songs are in A[flat] and are settings of Ruckert poems: the first is Widmung (composed by Robert and dedicated to Clara), while the last is Clara's Icb hab' in deinem Auge (which Clara gave to Robert for his thirty-third birthday). Within each opus grouping, the individual songs follow the order of the original cycle (i.e., nos. 1, 3, 7, and 24 of op. 25 appear respectively as nos. 1-4 of the album) except for those from op. 35 (nos. 4 and 8), which are placed in reverse order. Was this to keep songs in the same key (Robert's op. 35, no. 8 and Clara's op. 13, no. 3 are both in E[flat]) from appearing side by side (although two of Robert's songs in E major from op. 39 are adjacent)? Or, did the similar images of nature in Robert's op. 35, no. 4 and Clara's E[flat] song suggest their placement together?

These two anthologies, compiled more than a century apart, offer very different opportunities for lieder scholars. The Schumann album encourages further investigations of the working relationship of Clara and Robert, and perhaps also of their attitudes toward song cycles. Being much wider in scope, the Goethe anthology is an invaluable sourcebook for a multitude of historical, analytical, and performance projects concerning nineteenth-century music and musicians. In addition to offering singers the opportunity to expand their repertory, this edition could also serve as a teaching tool in classes devoted to the history of lieder, the role of Goethe (and poetry) in German romanticism, and surveys of nineteenth-century musical style.

HEATHER PLATT Ball State University
COPYRIGHT 1997 Music Library Association, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Platt, Heather
Publication:Notes
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 1, 1997
Words:1571
Previous Article:Transkriptionen, I: Transkriptionen der Werke von Hector Berlioz. Hrsg. von Laszlo Martos and Imre Mezo.
Next Article:Liederalbum fur Wilhelmine Schroder-Devrient: Faksimile der Handschrift 4 Ms. Mus. 282 aus der Handschriftenabteilung der Landesbibliothek und...
Topics:

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters