Julian Prégardien

Robert Schumann's Dichterliebe to poems by Heinrich Heine

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In his “song year” in 1840, Robert Schumann almost systematically created an entire cosmos of songs. In February he composed the Liederkreis, his first in-depth engagement with poems by Heinrich Heine. From May 24 to June 1, he set twenty selected poems by Heine from the Book of Songs published in 1827. For the printed edition, which was published in 1844 under the title Dichterliebe, Schumann ultimately selected sixteen songs. Johannes Brahms accompanied the singer Julius Stockhausen at the premiere of the entire cycle on April 30, 1861 in Hamburg.

In his skillful selection of Heine's poems, Schumann succeeds in creating a kind of personification of the Romantic artist. We learn how the speaker with his complex psyche tries to cope with the vileness of the world, and we observe the unhappy love affair of an egocentric. At the same time, the ostensibly self-contained individual songs are linked to one another through purely musical elements such as key and motivic relationships. Purely sensuously, through relationships and connections that are felt and intuited more than understood, the cycle truly captivates the listener. In the lengthy piano epilogue, the diverse motivic relationships are even reflected upon retrospectively.

Photo that shows Julian Prégardien 2 Credit Peter Rigaud. © Peter Rigaud
© Peter Rigaud

Program

Robert Schumann
Dichterliebe, op. 48
to poems from the Book of Songs
by Heinrich Heine

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