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Heinrich Heine

born: 13 December 1797
died: 17 February 1856
country: Germany

Heinrich Heine was born Harry Heine in Düsseldorf on 13 December 1797 (although he later claimed that his year of birth was 1799). His father was a kindly but ineffectual merchant, and to pay for his education the boy relied on the largesse of his millionaire uncle, Salomon Heine of Hamburg – a tyrant who attempted to control his nephew’s life in return for subsidy. Attempts to interest young Harry in banking and retailing failed, so he was packed off to the universities of Bonn, Göttingen and Berlin. He obtained an undistinguished legal degree which he never used. There is rather little reliable information about Heine’s life in this early phase, but he is said to have fallen in love with his cousins, Salomon’s daughters, neither of whom were at all interested in their impecunious young relative. In this way, Hamburg and its inhabitants are forever linked with poetry concerning Heine’s unhappiness. But we shall never know to what extent the desolate lyrics of the Buch der Lieder are founded on biographical incident, and how much simply on the poet’s imagination and tendency to self-dramatisation.

Heine’s first volume of poetry (now a great bibliophilic rarity) was published in 1822. This included lyrics (later assembled under the headings Junge Leiden and Lyrisches Intermezzo) which were only to re-emerge with the Buch der Lieder in 1827. In the same year he journeyed to Poland, and in 1823 he entered into the circle and salon of Rahel Varnhagen von Ense in Berlin. In 1824 he went on a walking holiday in the Harz mountains and paid a not-too-successful visit to Goethe in Weimar. (He had the temerity to tell the great man that he, too, was working on a Faust.) In 1825 in order to widen the scope of his career opportunities he converted to Protestantism. This was arguably something that was necessary at the time, but Heine later felt he had betrayed his Jewish roots. (Felix Mendelssohn also resented that his father had decided to have his children baptised, giving them no say in the matter.)

In 1826 he visited England, and Italy in 1828. Both of these countries were described in his inimitable, often hilarious, but unforgiving style. The Reisebilder (‘Pictures of Travel’) were issued in four volumes between 1826 and 1831. The first of these, dedicated to Rahel Varnhagen, contained the group of 88 poems known collectively as Die Heimkehr (‘The Homecoming’), the Harzreise with its mixture of prose and poetry, as well as the poems which make up the first two parts of Der Nordsee. It was this small but potent volume which delighted Schober and his reading circle, and was read aloud at the beginning of 1828. The humour of Die Harzreise made a particularly happy impression – and it remains amusing to this day. Deutsch averred that the Heine songs were probably conceived at this time but there is no proof that this was the case. There is even a theory (going back to the memoirs of the singer Schönstein) that Schubert had read Heine much earlier, and that his settings date from before 1828. Of course the composer could have read the Reisebilder earlier; he could also, theoretically, have had a copy of the Buch der Lieder in his possession since 1827. (If he used this source it seems strange that he would have ignored the first 165 pages of Heine’s poems in favour of Die Heimkehr; the six poems he set are to be found in the opening pages of Reisebilder Volume 1.) But the date and condition of the Schwanengesang autograph, as well as other circumstantial evidence, point to the fact that these Heine songs were indeed among the composer’s last.

On 18 November 1830 (almost exactly two years after Schubert’s death), Heine wrote to Eduard Marxsen (later the teacher of Brahms) thanking him for a consignment of small songs set to his poetry. The poet continues ‘apparently, shortly before his death, Schubert is said to have set my lieder to very good music which unfortunately I do not yet know’.

In 1831, attracted by the new political freedom brought about by the revolution that had swept Louis-Philippe to power, Heine moved to Paris. His writings were banned in Germany in 1835, and he returned to his homeland only twice, in 1843 and 1844. It was said that his role in life was to explain the German to the French, and vice versa. Heine’s French period was notable for the development of his career as a critic, cultural historian, polemicist and so on; the lyricist known to lieder enthusiasts almost disappears from view. In 1843, in a review in the journal Lutezia, Heine wrote: ‘Schubert’s popularity in Paris is very great and his name is exploited in the most shameless way … Poor Schubert! And what words are foisted on his music. It is particularly the Heinrich Heine songs, composed by Schubert, which are favourites here …’. Heine goes on to complain about the translations into French of these lyrics, and how the publishers have cheated him of his copyright fees. But of a musical appreciation of Schubert’s songs, not a word.

Incapacitated for years in what he called his ‘Mattress Grave’, paralysed and blind as a result of venereal infection, Heine died in Paris in 1856. Vilified by the Right (including of course the Nazis) and idolised by the Left who still see him as a proto-critic of the evils of fascism and capitalism, he remains a controversial figure to this day. Some critics (Karl Kraus) thought that Heine’s populist streak had prostituted the German language. Certainly the lyrics which were set to music are no longer counted as representing the most interesting side of his poetic output … but musicians will always beg to differ.

Heine’s verse can embrace sentimentality to the point of cliché. At the same time the poet profoundly distrusts sentiment, and does everything he can to deflate it. This dichotomy is at the heart of the bittersweet irony of the verse. Hundreds of composers found his poetry touching and accessible – which indeed it is on one level. But he loved to play with the tension between ‘poesy’, as he called it, and discordant reality, and this was much harder, and less rewarding, for the Romantic composer to capture in musical terms. Although Schubert was arguably unable (or unwilling) to follow Heine down every ironic pathway, the powerful and bleak Schwanengesang songs are a far cry from the effusive, and ultra-Romantic, settings of many a later composer. Robert Schumann will go down in history as Heine’s composer par excellence: but even he never created a Heine setting as frightening and imposing as Der Doppelgänger.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2000

Albums

Brahms & Schumann: Voices of the Night
CDA66053Archive Service
Bridge: Songs
CDD220712CDs Dyad (2 for the price of 1)
Cornelius: The Three Kings & other choral works
CDA67206Download currently discounted
Delius: Songs
CDA67594
Durey: Songs
CDA67257Archive Service
Grieg: Songs
CDA67670
Hahn: Songs
CDA67141/22CDs
Holloway: Serenade; Schumann: Liederkreis
CDA66930
Ives: A Song - For Anything
CDA67516
Ives: Romanzo di Central Park & other songs
CDA67644
Liszt: The Complete Songs, Vol. 1 – Matthew Polenzani
CDA67782
Liszt: The Complete Songs, Vol. 2 – Angelika Kirchschlager
Studio Master: CDA67934Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Mahler & Mahler: Lieder
Studio Master: CKD453Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Mendelssohn: Lieder
CDH55360Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
Mendelssohn: On wings of song
CDH55150Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
Mendelssohn: Songs and Duets, Vol. 1
CDA66906
Mendelssohn: Songs and Duets, Vol. 2
CDA67137
Mendelssohn: Songs and Duets, Vol. 3
CDA67388
Mendelssohn: Songs and Duets, Vol. 4
CDA67739
Schubert: Schwanengesang
CDA67657
Schubert: The Complete Songs
CDS44201/4040CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)
Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 37 – John Mark Ainsley, Anthony Rolfe Johnson & Michael Schade
CDJ33037Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40
Schumann & Brahms: Voices of the Night
CDA66053Archive Service
Schumann: Dichterliebe & other Heine Settings
CDA67676
Schumann: Liederkreis Opp 24 & 39
Studio Master: CDA67944Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Schumann: Liederkreis; Holloway: Serenade
CDA66930
Schumann: Songs
CDH55275Helios (Hyperion's budget label) — Archive Service
Schumann: The Complete Songs
CDS44441/5010CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Schumann: The Complete Songs, Vol. 4 – Oliver Widmer & Stella Doufexis
CDJ33104Archive Service
Schumann: The Complete Songs, Vol. 5 – Christopher Maltman
CDJ33105Archive Service
Schumann: The Complete Songs, Vol. 7 – Dorothea Röschmann & Ian Bostridge
CDJ33107Archive Service
Schumann: The Complete Songs, Vol. 8 – Christopher Maltman, Jonathan Lemalu & Mark Padmore
CDJ33108Download currently discounted
Songs by Schubert's contemporaries
CDJ33051/33CDs
Stanford: Songs, Vol. 1
CDA67123
Stanford: Songs, Vol. 2
CDA67124
Strauss: The Complete Songs, Vol. 1 – Christine Brewer
CDA67488
Strauss: The Complete Songs, Vol. 4 – Christopher Maltman & Alastair Miles
CDA67667
Strauss: The Complete Songs, Vol. 6 – Elizabeth Watts
Studio Master: CDA67844Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
The Sea
CDA66165Archive Service
Wolf: Lieder nach Heine und Lenau
CDH55389Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
Women's lives and loves
CDA67563
The Essential Hyperion, Vol. 2
This album is not yet available for downloadHYP202CDs Super-budget price sampler — Deleted

Complete works available for download

FRANK BRIDGE (1879-1941))
All things that we clasp and cherishJanice Watson (soprano), Roger Vignoles (piano)
Dawn and eveningGerald Finley (baritone), Roger Vignoles (piano)
Dear, when I look into thine eyesGerald Finley (baritone), Roger Vignoles (piano)
E'en as a lovely flowerJamie MacDougall (tenor), Roger Vignoles (piano)
Lean close thy cheekJamie MacDougall (tenor), Roger Vignoles (piano)
Night lies on the silent highwaysGerald Finley (baritone), Roger Vignoles (piano)
The violets blueJamie MacDougall (tenor), Roger Vignoles (piano)
Where is it that our soul doth go?Louise Winter (mezzo-soprano), Roger Vignoles (piano), Roger Chase (viola)
Where'er my bitter teardrops fallJamie MacDougall (tenor), Roger Vignoles (piano)
PETER CORNELIUS (1824-1874))
Drei Chorgesänge, Op 11Polyphony, Stephen Layton (conductor)
FREDERICK DELIUS (1862-1934))
Aus deinen Augen fliessen meine LiederYvonne Kenny (soprano), Piers Lane (piano)
LOUIS DUREY (1888-1979))
Deux Lieder romantiques, Op 20François Le Roux (baritone), Graham Johnson (piano)
EDVARD GRIEG (1843-1907))
Sechs Lieder, Op 48Katarina Karnéus (mezzo-soprano), Julius Drake (piano)
REYNALDO HAHN (1874-1947))
SéraphineStephen Varcoe (baritone), Graham Johnson (piano)
CHARLES IVES (1874-1954))
Ich grolle nichtGerald Finley (baritone), Julius Drake (piano)
My native landGerald Finley (baritone), Julius Drake (piano)
FRANZ PAUL LACHNER (1803-1890))
Das Fischermädchen, Op 33 No 10Mark Padmore (tenor), Graham Johnson (piano)
FRANZ LISZT (1811-1886))
Ein Fichtenbaum steht einsam, S309 First setting, first versionAngelika Kirchschlager (mezzo-soprano), Julius Drake (piano)
Im Rhein, im schönen Strome, S272 First version ossiaMatthew Polenzani (tenor), Julius Drake (piano)
Im Rhein, im schönen Strome, S272 Second versionAngelika Kirchschlager (mezzo-soprano), Julius Drake (piano)
Vergiftet sind meine Lieder, S289 Third versionAngelika Kirchschlager (mezzo-soprano), Julius Drake (piano)
ALMA MAHLER (1879-1964))
Ich wandle unter BlumenKaren Cargill (mezzo-soprano), Simon Lepper (piano)
FANNY MENDELSSOHN (1805-1847))
Aus meinen Tränen sprießenSophie Daneman (soprano), Sarah Connolly (mezzo-soprano), Eugene Asti (piano)
Ich wandelte unter den BäumenSusan Gritton (soprano), Eugene Asti (piano)
Im wunderschönen Monat MaiSophie Daneman (soprano), Sarah Connolly (mezzo-soprano), Eugene Asti (piano)
Wenn ich in deine Augen seheSophie Daneman (soprano), Sarah Connolly (mezzo-soprano), Eugene Asti (piano)
FELIX MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847))
ErinnerungHannah Morrison (soprano), Eugene Asti (piano)
Im KahnStephan Loges (baritone), Eugene Asti (piano)
Warum sind denn die Rosen so blass?Katherine Broderick (soprano), Eugene Asti (piano)
GIACOMO MEYERBEER (1791-1864))
Komm!Gerald Finley (baritone), Graham Johnson (piano)
CLARA SCHUMANN (1819-1896))
LoreleiChristopher Maltman (baritone), Graham Johnson (piano)
LoreleiSusan Gritton (soprano), Eugene Asti (piano)
VolksliedChristopher Maltman (baritone), Graham Johnson (piano)
VolksliedSusan Gritton (soprano), Eugene Asti (piano)
ROBERT SCHUMANN (1810-1856))
Belsatzar, Op 57Christopher Maltman (baritone), Graham Johnson (piano)
Belsatzar, Op 57Gerald Finley (baritone), Julius Drake (piano)
Dichterliebe, Op 48Christopher Maltman (baritone), Graham Johnson (piano)
Dichterliebe, Op 48Gerald Finley (baritone), Julius Drake (piano)
Liederkreis, Op 24Christopher Maltman (baritone), Graham Johnson (piano)
Liederkreis, Op 24Toby Spence (tenor), Ian Brown (piano)
Liederkreis, Op 24Gerald Finley (baritone), Julius Drake (piano)
SIR CHARLES VILLIERS STANFORD (1852-1924))
Dass du mich liebst, Op 4 No 3Stephen Varcoe (baritone), Clifford Benson (piano)
Der Schmetterling ist in die Rose verliebt, Op 4 No 6Stephen Varcoe (baritone), Clifford Benson (piano)
Frühling, Op 4 No 4Stephen Varcoe (baritone), Clifford Benson (piano)
Ich halte ihr die Augen zu, Op 7 No 5Stephen Varcoe (baritone), Clifford Benson (piano)
Ich lieb' eine Blume, Op 7 No 1Stephen Varcoe (baritone), Clifford Benson (piano)
Schlummerlied, Op 7 No 6Stephen Varcoe (baritone), Clifford Benson (piano)
Sterne mit den gold'nen Füsschen, Op 4 No 1Stephen Varcoe (baritone), Clifford Benson (piano)
Tragödie, Op 14 No 5Stephen Varcoe (baritone), Clifford Benson (piano)
Wie des Mondes Abbild zittert, Op 7 No 2Stephen Varcoe (baritone), Clifford Benson (piano)
JOHANN VESQUE VON PÜTTLINGEN (1803-1883))
Der DoppelgängerGerald Finley (baritone), Graham Johnson (piano)
HUGO WOLF (1860-1903))
Du bist wie eine BlumeStephan Genz (baritone), Roger Vignoles (piano)
Ernst ist der FrühlingStephan Genz (baritone), Roger Vignoles (piano)
Es war ein alter KönigStephan Genz (baritone), Roger Vignoles (piano)
LiederstraussStephan Genz (baritone), Roger Vignoles (piano)
Mädchen mit dem roten MündchenStephan Genz (baritone), Roger Vignoles (piano)
Mit schwarzen SegelnStephan Genz (baritone), Roger Vignoles (piano)
SpätherbstnebelStephan Genz (baritone), Roger Vignoles (piano)
Sterne mit den gold'nen FüsschenStephan Genz (baritone), Roger Vignoles (piano)
Wenn ich in deine Augen seh'Stephan Genz (baritone), Roger Vignoles (piano)
Wie des Mondes Abbild zittertStephan Genz (baritone), Roger Vignoles (piano)
Wo ich bin, mich rings umdunkeltStephan Genz (baritone), Roger Vignoles (piano)
Wo wird einst des WandermüdenStephan Genz (baritone), Roger Vignoles (piano)

Alphabetical listing of all musical works

Abendlied  
Abends am Strand  
All things that we clasp and cherish (Bridge)
Allnächtlich im Traume  
Allnächtlich im Traume  
Am fernen Horizonte  
Am leuchtenden Sommermorgen  
Am Meer  
Anfangs wollt' ich fast verzagen  
Auf Flügeln des Gesanges  
Auf ihrem Grab da steht eine Linde  
Aus alten Märchen  
Aus deinen Augen fliessen meine Lieder (Delius)
Aus meinen grossen Schmerzen  
Aus meinen Tränen spriessen  
Aus meinen Tränen sprießen (Mendelssohn)
Belsatzar, Op 57 (Schumann)
Berg' und Burgen schaun herunter  
Das Fischermädchen  
Das Fischermädchen, Op 33 No 10 (Lachner)
Das ist des Frühlings traurige Lust!  
Das ist ein Brausen und Heulen  
Das ist ein Flöten und Geigen  
Das ist ein schlechtes Wetter  
Das Meer erglänzte weit hinaus  
Dass du mich liebst, Op 4 No 3 (Stanford)
Dawn and evening (Bridge)
Dawn awaking hears my calling  
Dear, when I look into thine eyes (Bridge)
Dein Angesicht so lieb und schön  
Der arme Peter I  
Der arme Peter II  
Der arme Peter III  
Der arme Peter wankt vorbei  
Der Atlas  
Der Doppelgänger  
Der Doppelgänger (Vesque von Püttlingen)
Der Hans und die Grete tanzen herum  
Der Herbstwind rüttelt die Bäume  
Der Schmetterling ist in die Rose verliebt, Op 4 No 6 (Stanford)
Der Tod, das ist die kühle Nacht  
Deux Lieder romantiques, Op 20 (Durey)
Dichterliebe, Op 48 (Schumann)
Die alten, bösen Lieder  
Die beiden Grenadiere  
Die feindlichen Brüder  
Die heiligen drei Könige  
Die Lotosblume  
Die Lotosblume  
Die Lotusblume ängstigt  
Die Minnesänger  
Die Mitternacht zog näher schon  
Die Rose, die Lilie, die Taube, die Sonne  
Die Stadt  
Die Wellen blinken und fliessen dahin  
Drei Chorgesänge, Op 11 (Cornelius)
Du bist wie eine Blume  
Du bist wie eine Blume (Wolf)
Du schönes Fischermädchen  
Du schönes Fischermädchen  
Du schönes Fischermädchen  
E'en as a lovely flower (Bridge)
Ein Fichtenbaum steht einsam, S309 First setting, first version (Liszt)
Ein Jüngling liebt ein Mädchen  
Entflieh' mit mir und sei mein Weib  
Entflieh mit und sei mein Weib  
Erinnerung (Mendelssohn)
Ernst ist der Frühling (Wolf)
Es blasen die blauen Husaren  
Es fällt ein Stern herunter  
Es fiel ein Reif in der Frühlingsnacht  
Es fiel ein Reif in der Frühlingsnacht  
Es leuchtet meine Liebe  
Es treibt mich hin  
Es war ein alter König (Wolf)
Frühling, Op 4 No 4 (Stanford)
Frühlingsfeier  
Fünf kleine Lieder, Op 69 (Strauss)
Fünf Lieder und Gesänge, Op 127 (Schumann)
Gruß  
Gruss  
Hör' ich das Liedchen klingen  
Ich grolle nicht  
Ich grolle nicht (Ives)
Ich hab' im Traum geweinet  
Ich halte ihr die Augen zu, Op 7 No 5 (Stanford)
Ich lieb' eine Blume, Op 7 No 1 (Stanford)
Ich stand gelehnet an den Mast  
Ich stand in dunkeln Träumen  
Ich stand in dunkeln Träumen  
Ich stand in dunklen Träumen  
Ich unglücksel’ger Atlas! eine Welt  
Ich wandelte unter den Bäumen  
Ich wandelte unter den Bäumen (Mendelssohn)
Ich wandle unter Blumen (Mahler)
Ich weiß nicht, was soll es bedeuten  
Ich will meine Seele tauchen  
Ich wollt' meine Lieb' ergösse sich  
Ihr Bild  
Ihr Bildnis  
Im Kahn (Mendelssohn)
Im Rhein, im heiligen Strome  
Im Rhein, im schönen Strome, S272 First version ossia (Liszt)
Im Rhein, im schönen Strome, S272 Second version (Liszt)
Im wunderschönen Monat Mai  
Im wunderschönen Monat Mai (Mendelssohn)
In dem Mondenschein im Walde  
In meiner Brust  
Komm! (Meyerbeer)
Lean close thy cheek (Bridge)
Lehn' deine Wang' an meine Wang'  
Leise zieht durch mein Gemüt  
Leise zieht durch mein Gemüt  
Lieb Liebchen, leg's Händchen  
Liederkreis, Op 24 (Schumann)
Liederstrauss (Wolf)
Lorelei (Schumann)
Mädchen mit dem roten Mündchen (Wolf)
Mein Liebchen, wir sassen beisammen  
Mein Liebchen, wir sassen beisammen  
Mein Wagen rollet langsam  
Mein Wagen rollet langsam  
Mir träumte von einem Königskind  
Mit deinen blauen Augen  
Mit Myrthen und Rosen  
Mit schwarzen Segeln (Wolf)
Mon pâle visage  
Morgengruss  
Morgens steh' ich auf und frage  
My native land (Ives)
Myrthen, Op 25 (Schumann)
Nach Frankreich zogen zwei Grenadier'  
Neue Liebe  
Night lies on the silent highways (Bridge)
Oben auf des Berges Spitze  
One thing I'd know  
Püppchen klein, püppchen mein  
Quand je chemine, le soir  
Reiselied  
Romanzen und Balladen I, Op 45 (Schumann)
Romanzen und Balladen II, Op 49 (Schumann)
Romanzen und Balladen III, Op 53 (Schumann)
Romanzen und Balladen IV, Op 64 (Schumann)
Schlechtes Wetter  
Schlummerlied, Op 7 No 6 (Stanford)
Schöne Wiege meiner Leiden  
Schwanengesang, D957 Part 2 (Schubert)
Schwanenlied  
Sechs Lieder, Op 13 (Schumann)
Sechs Lieder, Op 33 (Schumann)
Sechs Lieder, Op 48 (Grieg)
Sechs Lieder, Op 56 (Strauss)
Séraphine (Hahn)
Sie haben heut' Abend Gesellschaft  
Sie liebten sich beide  
Six Duets, Op 63 (Mendelssohn)
Six Songs, Op 1 (Mendelssohn)
Six Songs, Op 19a (Mendelssohn)
Six Songs, Op 34 (Mendelssohn)
Six Songs, Op 47 (Mendelssohn)
Six Songs, Op 86 (Mendelssohn)
Spätherbstnebel (Wolf)
Sterne mit den gold'nen Füsschen (Wolf)
Sterne mit den gold'nen Füsschen, Op 4 No 1 (Stanford)
Still ist die Nacht, es ruhen die Gassen  
Still ist die Nacht, es ruhen die Gassen  
The violets blue (Bridge)
Three Folk songs (Mendelssohn)
Tragödie I  
Tragödie II  
Tragödie III  
Tragödie, Op 14 No 5 (Stanford)
Tu es telle qu'un fleur  
Twelve Songs, Op 9 (Mendelssohn)
Über die Berge steigt schon die Sonne  
Und wüssten's die Blumen, die kleinen  
Und wüssten's die Blumen, die kleinen  
Vergiftet sind meine Lieder, S289 Third version (Liszt)
Verlust  
Vier Gesänge, Op 142 (Schumann)
Volkslied (Schumann)
Waldesfahrt  
Warte, warte, wilder Schiffmann  
Warum sind denn die Rosen so blass?  
Warum sind denn die Rosen so blass? (Mendelssohn/Asti)
Was will die einsame Träne?  
Was will die einsame Träne?  
Wasserfahrt  
Wenn ich auf dem Lager liege  
Wenn ich in deine Augen seh'  
Wenn ich in deine Augen seh' (Wolf)
Wenn ich in deine Augen sehe (Mendelssohn)
Where is it that our soul doth go? (Bridge)
Where'er my bitter teardrops fall (Bridge)
Wie des Mondes Abbild zittert (Wolf)
Wie des Mondes Abbild zittert, Op 7 No 2 (Stanford)
Wir saßen am Fischerhause  
Wo ich bin, mich rings umdunkelt (Wolf)
Wo wird einst des Wandermüden (Wolf)
Zu dem Wettgesange schreiten  
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