commentary to opus 71a

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6 Songs after poems by Hermann Hesse (in German) for Medium Voice and Piano, op. 71a (1978)

1. Im Nebel

2. Handwerksburschenpenne

3. Blauer Schmetterling

4. Nachtgefühl

5. Irgendwo

6. Manchmal

First performance: October 22, 1981, Würzburg, Gartenpavillon des Juliusspitals
Herbert Roth / Arno Leicht

Dedication: for Herbert Roth

Duration: 20 Minutes

Publisher: Schott Music ED 20287 / ISMN: M-001-14992-1

Nr. 1 Im Nebel Nr. 2 Handwerksburschenpenne Nr. 3 Blauer Schmetterling Nr. 4 Nachtgefühl

Musicaphon 55719


The basis of the first Lied Im Nebel (Within the mist) is a short series of notes which has already been heard in the opening bars of the piano, moving simultaneously from a high note towards the bass and from a low note towards the treble, so that the resulting chords hover and swim like banks of mist.
In the Handwerksburschenpenne (Journeyman's Lodging), one thinks one is hearing a marching song, but the music repeatedly breaks out of the stiff rhythm, the "secret pain" that tortures one of the three journeymen is present in almost every bar of the music.
The third song, Blauer Schmetterling (Blue Butterfly) is as if painted with a few daubs of colour. The captivating harmonies of the piano resolve twice into a high note which is left to fade almost to silence. Above these, the voice glides and hovers, almost more reciting than singing.
Nachtgefühl (Night feeling)is the central piece in the group of songs, not only in terms of the point in time, but also because here the voice and the piano accompaniment provide a climax in intensive expression and an orchestral, almost operatic concentration of sound.
The song Irgendwo (Somewhere) forms a single large musical arch going from powerful agitation to motionless quiet. In the final bars, at the words "Nacht und Sterne" ("Night and Stars"), a chord in the piano containing simultaneously all 12 notes of our musical system is heard. Thus are the perfection and completeness of the starry heavens symbolically represented.
The poem Manchmal (Sometimes), the basis of the last song, speaks of the experience that man can become one with nature if he immerses himself in it, and that he can thereby be changed. This is a thought that runs through the poetry of Hermann Hesse like a solemn fundamental harmony. Often, there are hints, as in this poem, of the mythology of the transmigration of souls. Through its music, the song makes the call of the birds as well as the blowing of the wind perceptible. With an unresolved chord, the work closes, like a question for which no answer has been found.

Arno Leicht



1. Within the mist

To wander alone in the mist,
Every bush and stone on its own,
No tree sees another
Everything is alone.

My world was filled with friendship,
While my life was still alight,
Now that the mist has fallen,
There is no one in sight.

No one is truly wise,
Who does not understand the darkness,
that ultimately and quietly
Separates us all.

Wandering isolated in the mist,
The mist that is so lonely,
No one knows the other,
Everyone alone.

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