This and Schwanengesang
are the only two Schubert songs to poems by his schoolmate Senn. Neither is longer than a page but each is a perfect musical entity. Senn was a goodlooking firebrand who from his school years on was always getting into trouble with the authorities (on one occasion in 1820 with Schubert as part of the gang). He had a burning hatred for injustice and his writings were constantly subjected to heavy censorship. He had something of a military career and outlived Schubert by nearly thirty years. Selige Welt
in its compact energy and shape, and certainly seems to be a musical portrait of the poet whom Schubert regarded as something of a hero. The piano doubles the vocal lilne which gives an aura of exceptional determination to this song. The words have a type of existential quality. Schubert's friends and contemporaries are often maligned for writing obscure and confused verse but there are times when the strangeness of their works appears genuinely expressionist. The Viennese hot-house was to produce the poetry of Georg Trakl for example, and the same stifling society gave birth to the odd works of Senn and Mayrhofer which often seem like presentiments of the literary experiments of nearly a century later. Certainly, disgust with modern civilisation is a theme which unites Trakl and Mayrhofer and one cannot help wondering if Schubert's friends would have been more prized as poets if they had been contemporaries of Schoenberg.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1988