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Sieben Gesänge aus Walter Scotts 'Fräulein vom See', Op 52

April – July 1825; published in 1826
author of text
translator of text

The seven songs from Scott’s The Lady of the Lake were among the triumphs of the extended holiday summer of 1825. Schubert was probably encouraged to write them by Vogl who was reasonably conversant with the English language; the enthusiasm of the actress and singer Sophie Müller for Walter Scott (see the Introduction to this booklet) may also have played some part in his planning a new set of songs designed to appeal to her. The composer and Vogl had made various visits to Müller’s home in Vienna during this year, usually bringing a mixture of old and new songs for performance. If Schubert envisaged Sophie singing Ellen’s songs, it is reasonable to suppose that the two solo songs for male voice were meant for the distinguished baritone. Four of these lieder (Ellens Gesänge I, II, and III – the latter the famous Ave Maria, and Normanns Gesang) are to be heard on Volume 13. The background to the these songs, in the context of the long and rather complicated historical narrative of Scott’s epic poem, is discussed in the booklet accompanying Volume 13, pages 27 to 37.

The work consist of five solo songs for three different characters (Ellen, Norman and Malcolm) with the addition of two choral songs. No other lied opus combines choral music with solos in quite this way, and it is possible that Schubert hoped for a complete performance at a Musikverein concert where partsongs were performed as frequently as solos. In any case he was certainly proud to have done justice to various aspects of Scott’s celebrated work, and he had high hopes of these songs being well received in Britain, the land which had been so beneficial to both Haydn’s and Beethoven’s fame and fortune. Accordingly, an English version with Scott’s original words was engraved in smaller notes and published as an ossia (with the exception of Normanns Gesang which proved impossible to adapt). Lied des gefangenen Jägers required so much alteration (Scott’s iambic tetramenters were a bad fit for the anapaests of the music) that it was printed separately. If it was the Anglophile Vogl who supervised these versions, his English was not good enough to give Schubert accurate help in the correct accentuation of the language. This ‘translation’ back to the original failed to yield the expected success or profit in the land of its intended market.

This poem occurs in Canto II of The Lady of the Lake. A loyal song is raised to the chieftain of the clan, Roderick Dhu (i.e. Black Roderick or Roderick the dark-skinned) as he returns home by boat on Lake Katrine. Roderick is the older of the suitors of Ellen Douglas, the beautiful heroine of this long narrative poem. Ellen is also the central figure in the group of songs that Schubert wrote on these Scott texts. Scott introduces the Boat Song with these lines:

The war-pipes ceased; but lake and hill
Were busy with their echoes still,
And when they slept, a vocal strain
Bade their hoarse chorus wake again,
While loud an hundred clans-men raise
Their voices in their chieftain’s praise.
Each boat-man, bending to his oar,
With measured sweep the burthen bore,
In such wild cadence, as the breeze
Makes through December’s leafless trees:
The chorus first could Allan know,
‘Roderigh Vich Alpine, ho! iero !’.
And near, and nearer as they rowed,
Distinct the martial ditty flowed.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2000


Schubert: The Complete Songs
CDS44201/4040CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)
Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 13 – Marie McLaughlin
Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 35
CDJ33035Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40Download currently discounted
Schubert: The Songmakers' Almanac Schubertiade
CDD220102CDs Dyad (2 for the price of 1) — Archive ServiceDownload currently discounted
Le Bestiaire
A66149Archive Service (LP transfer)This album is not available for download


No 1: Ellens Gesang I, D837  Raste Krieger! Krieg ist aus
Track 12 on CDJ33013 [8'34]
Track 1 on CDS44201/40 CD30 [8'34] 40CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)
No 2: Ellens Gesang II, D838  Jäger, ruhe von der Jagd!
Track 12 on CDD22010 CD1 [3'22] 2CDs Dyad (2 for the price of 1) — Archive Service
Track 13 on CDJ33013 [3'32]
Track 2 on CDS44201/40 CD30 [3'32] 40CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)
No 3: Bootgesang, D835  Triumph, er naht, Heil, Heil dem Helden
Track 15 on CDJ33035 [1'28] Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40
Track 3 on CDS44201/40 CD30 [1'28] 40CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)
No 4: Coronach 'Totengesang der Frauen und Mädchen', D836  Er ist uns geschieden vom Berg und vom Walde
Track 16 on CDJ33035 [5'03] Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40
Track 4 on CDS44201/40 CD30 [5'03] 40CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)
No 5: Normans Gesang, D846  Die Nacht bricht bald herein, dann leg’ ich mich zur Ruh
Track 11 on CDJ33013 [3'34]
Track 5 on CDS44201/40 CD30 [3'34] 40CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)
No 6: Ellens Gesang III, D839  Ave Maria
Track 14 on CDJ33013 [6'09]
Track 6 on CDS44201/40 CD30 [6'09] 40CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)
No 7: Lied des gefangenen Jägers, D843  Mein Ross so müd’ in dem Stalle sich steht
Track 17 on CDJ33035 [3'26] Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40
Track 7 on CDS44201/40 CD30 [3'26] 40CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)
Track 6 on A66149 [3'06] Archive Service (LP transfer)

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