A Poet's Love
Twenty Songs From the Lyrical Intermezzo
In the Book of Songs for Voice and Piano
(Original manuscript of the Dichterliebe)
Poems by Heinrich Heine, Music by Robert Schumann
Robert Schumann, composer
Follow the detective work of Thomas Hampson and Renate Hilmar - Voit as they restore the 16 song Dichterliebe to its complete complement of 20 songs.
See the complete text of the Twenty Songs.
The German title of the Twenty Songs is Zwanzig Lieder und Gesänge aus dem Lyrischen Intermezzo.
Heinrich Heine, poet
fter the eighteen-year-old Robert Schumann had visited Heinrich Heine in Munich he remarked: "On his lips there played a bitterly ironic smile, but it was a lofty smile aimed at the trivialities of life and a scorn for petty men." The Heine that Schumann met was the poet who had called himself the last Romantic and the first modern, and the composer was sensitive to Heine's poetic method: the skillful use of the old Romantic iconography, subtly interlaced with and ultimately undercut by a self-ironic awareness.
Schumann, who owned the 1827 first edition of Heine's Lyrisches Intermezzo and had set the twenty poems within a nine-day span in June,1840, was keenly aware of the book's ironic premise contained in the prologue. In these opening verses Heine recounts the story of a knight-poet who is abruptly confronted by a vision of his destiny. In Heine's sharp-tongued, often grimly bitter series of sixty-six poems the protagonist is the object of his own scathing wit as he realizes the bitter fate that refuses him the fulfillment of his love and passion.
In selecting and ordering the twenty songs Schumann intended to designate as Opus 29, the composer created a cycle which, inspired by his youthful impressions of the poet's own visage, cloaked complex feelings with seeming naivetè of expression. As it stands in its original manuscript version, the 20 Lieder are less a cycle about a poet's unrequited love than they are a scathing exploration of the poet's fateful inability to love.
Listen to Thomas Hampson perform songs I and V of the Twenty Songs:
Find out more about Robert Schumann.
For more of Saint Paul Sunday and Thomas Hampson with pianist Craig Rutenberg, visit The Modern Man I Sing, an exploration of Whitman text settings by a variety of European and American composers.