The salute in this poem to Hölty and to Matthisson places its Swiss creator Salis-Seewis in his correct historical context. Salis's poems were published in 1794 under the wing of Matthisson, as it were, who wrote an introduction to the edition. He shared Matthisson's preoccupation with classical metre and antique poetic forms. Before embracing a literary profession, Salis had been a soldier, a member of the Swiss Guard Regiment at Versailles and thus a first-hand observer of the fall of Louis XVI and the French aristocracy. He travelled to Weimar and met there Wieland, Herder, Schiller and Goethe. Salis-Seewis, who spent most of his life in his native Switzerland, stands outside the mainstream of German literature despite his gift for friendship and regular correspondence with his contemporaries like Matthisson. His elegant and restrained verse appealed to Schubert who set ten of his poems, some of them in two or three versions. Although the composer set this poet as early as 1815, and as late as 1821, the majority of the songs date from 1816, and particularly from March of that year. It seemed that Schubert was particularly attracted to Salis in his lighthearted folksong mood, but he also responds well to the streak of melancholy which subtly insinuates itself into the work. Verse of this kind must have made a welcome change and relaxation from the blood-and-thunder writing of Schiller with which the composer also busied himself in March 1816.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1993
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