Liebst du um Schönheit
Warum willst du and're fragen
Ihr Bildnis (Erste Fassung)
Tenor David Kenneth Smith is a Lieder specialist and champion of the music of Clara Schumann. He is active in oratorio and performs a dozen opera rôles. He graduated from Indiana University, and is a UAH Voice professor.
Pianist Marie Libal-Smith is a veteran accompanist of hundreds of recitals. A graduate of Indiana University, Baldwin-Wallace Conservatory and Cleveland Institute, she has played and taught at Indiana, DePauw University, and UAH.
Translations Copyright © 1996, David Kenneth Smith.
For more information on Clara Schumann, please visit the Website www.uah.edu/clara/schumann.html
An einem lichten Morgen
On a bright and shining morning,
there rings clear through the vale,
"Wake up, beloved flower,
I am a ray of sun!
Now confidently open
your little blossom heart
and let my burning love-beams
into your holy shrine.
"I desire nothing more
than sleep upon your breast
and thus I will transform you
with sunshine's shining bliss."
It was another 5 long years before Clara and Robert could marry, because she was underage and her father didn't approve. But in 1840, on the day before her 21st birthday, they were finally married. During that first year, Robert asked her to write some songs from a collection of poems by Friedrich Rückert called The Springtime of Love. This next song is one she wrote for him - so typical of a newly-wed wife:
Warum willst du and're fragen
Why will you depend on others,
who are not faithful to you?
but what my eyes say!
Don't believe strange people and their peculiar fancies;
don't even try to interpret my actions,
just look in my eyes!
Will my words silence your questions,
or turn you against me?
Whatever my lips may say,
see my eyes, they say: I love you!
Through her life, Clara experienced a happy, loving marriage, the joys of many children, and the devotion of her dear friend Johannes Brahms. But tragedy dogged her as she suffered the divorce of her parents, estrangement from her father, two miscarriages, and the early deaths of four children. Even her husband Robert suffered from emotional illness. In the 15th year of their marriage, he threw himself into the Rhine River, perhaps in a suicide attempt. They had no alternative but to put him in an asylum.
Based on a poem by Heinrich Heine, this next song, written in the first happy months of their marriage, was an odd forshadowing of their later separation. It is called, Ihr Bildnis, or, Her portrait:
I stood in a darkened daydream
and stared at her portrait long
-- and saw that beloved face
secretly coming to life.
Around her lips there blossomed
a wondrous laughing smile,
and melancholy teardrops --
they glittered in her eyes.
Likewise my teardrops welled up
and flowed down mournful cheeks --
alas, I can't believe it --
that I have lost you!
After two long years in the asylum, Robert died at age 46. Clara was comforted by her friend Johannes Brahms, but was committed to the memory of her husband. She never remarried, and died a widow after forty years. Indeed, next Wednesday, we commemorate the death of Clara Schumann, 102 years ago. (76 years old; Wednesday, May 20, 1896)
This last song was a present to Robert for their first married Christmas. Written on the German version of a Robert Burns poem, it is a sad lament which foretells the loss of her husband and the consolation brought by the loving spirits of her dreams.
Am Strande = On the shore
Sadly I gaze from the cliff on the sea which separates us,
and with ardor my lips implore, "Spare my Love, O world!"
Fear is my soul's master, and hope shrinks away;
only in dreams do spirits bring tidings from my Beloved to me.
Be kind to me, hours of night, may rest descend upon my eyes,
gracious spirits, whisper tidings from my Beloved to me.
I thought we'd include a couple Broadway favorites. This first one is from Carousel, by Rodgers & Hammerstein; and this particular scene concerns Billy Bigelow and Julie Jordan who are friends and awfully fond of each other. But they figure they must not really be in love since things would be so different . . . If I Loved You . . .
From Camelot, by Lerner & Loewe, we have the story of Lancelot and Guenevere, the medieval pair who shared forbidden love. One fine day Lancelot speculates exactly under what circumstances he could leave her. He sings, If Ever I would Leave You . . .
Next we present an Italian popular song, O sole mio, which simply means, You are my Sunshine. It was written by Eduardo Di Capua (1864-1917) to words that might be spoken after a lover's quarrel.
What's so fine -- as a day of sunshine?
The sky is clear at last - the rain and storm are past
Through air so cool, so bright - I see the gleam of festive light.
Another sunlight more beautiful I see -
you are my sunshine, here with me!
Our last song this evening is one of the most popular songs in Germany, written by Robert Schumann as he awaited his wedding day. It's called Widmung, or Dedication (Myrthen, Op. 25 No. 1), and sets another poem by Friedrich Rückert whom we encountered before.
Indeed, we will perform this as a special dedication. It turns out that [a particular audience member] is celebrating a birthday tonight. -- This must be an important weekend! Did you know, tomorrow is Clara's mother's birthday! Yes, 201 years ago (Wed., May 17, 1797) Clara's mother Marianne Tromlitz was born.
So now, we have Widmung, Dedication, by Robert Schumann:
You are my soul, my heart,
Delight, and sorrow;
You are my world wherein I live,
You are my heaven into which I soar,
-- Oh -- you are my grave, where deep down
I have forever laid my sorrow!
You are my rest, my peace;
Heaven has destined you for me.
Because you love me makes me feel worthy,
Your gaze has transfigured me,
Your love lifts me above myself,
You are my good spirit, my better self!
From Friedrich Rückert's Springtime of Love . . .
If you love for beauty
If you love for beauty, oh, do not love me!
Love the sun, she has golden hair!
If you love for youth, oh, do not love me!
Love the spring, it is young every year!
If you love for treasure, oh, do not love me!
Love the mermaid, she has many clear pearls!
But if you love for love, oh yes, do love me!
love me ever, and I'll love you evermore!
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