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Lebenslied, D508

First line:
Kommen und Scheiden
composer
December 1816; first published in 1845 in volume 38 of the Nachlass
author of text

 
The manuscript of this work is solemnly marked with the words 'In the house of Herr von Schober'. The two songs from December 1816 both have this inscription and both show us much more of a serious young man than the eighteen-year-old of the beginning of the year. Schubert seems to be searching for a philosophy of life. From the diary entry of 8 September we know that he has come under the influence of Johann Mayrhofer, and that in the autumn of the year he had not only turned his back on the possibility of marriage to Therese Grob, but had left home (at least for a period) and lodged with Franz von Schober. He was determined to make a life of his own surrounded and supported by friends of similar tastes and ideals. It is hardly surprising then that he should have been attracted to this poem of Matthisson, the last by that poet that he was to set; it reads like the succession of noble aphorisms that Schubert had attempted to pen on the night of 8 September, before sleep overtook him.

There is great strength and resolve in this music; it is in C major but it is actually full of chromatic highways and byways as wide-ranging as Matthisson's ambitions and sentiments. There is a mood here of resolute chorale, sometimes cheerful and optimistic but hijacked by doubts from time to time; if Herbstlied is about the resolve of working folk, Lebenslied is a similar charter for the thinkers and creators. The vocal line is doubled by ominous octaves at 'Armuth und Fülle, Verödung und Pracht'. The repeat of the phrase 'wechseln auf Erden wie Dämmrung und Nacht' is masterfully done: the first time the dark suspensions depict the uncertainty of the half light leading to a cadence in E flat, but the second moves triumphantly back into C major with the feeling of an answered question and a solved riddle. The five bars of postlude are of the utmost determination. They stride forward, a rising phrase in the piano's left hand, with the air of a man with a mission. This little known song has been neglected by singers and scholars alike. It shares something of the mood of the Senn setting Selige Welt, even to the extent of a verse which mentions a ship coming into a harbour. It is one of those relatively rare works which reveal to us the underlying philosophy of the Schubert circle. Lebenslied no doubt reflects the content of the idealistic conversations of the composer and his friends as they talked far into the night, Schubert delighting in his new-found freedom.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1993

Recordings

Schubert: The Complete Songs
CDS44201/4040CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)
Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 17 – Lucia Popp
CDJ33017

Details

Track 22 on CDJ33017 [2'32]
Track 2 on CDS44201/40 CD17 [2'32] 40CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)

Track-specific metadata for CDJ33017 track 22

Artists
ISRC
GB-AJY-93-01722
Duration
2'32
Recording date
9 April 1992
Recording venue
Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel, Hampstead, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Martin Compton
Recording engineer
Antony Howell
Hyperion usage
  1. Schubert: The Complete Songs (CDS44201/40)
    Disc 17 Track 2
    Release date: October 2005
    40CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)
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