Ludwig Christoph Hölty was born near Hanover. He was a student of theology at Göttingen and a member of the Göttingen Hainbund, an organisation which came into being on a moonlit walk through the woods in September 1772 when the six undergraduate poets present, including Hölty, inspired by the beauty of their surroundings, and swearing allegiance to the emotional poetry of Klopstock, and enmity to the artificial poetry of Wieland, joined hands, danced round an oak tree and swore eternal friendship. This type of eighteen-century Living Poets' Society was against rationalism and convention. Hölty's poetry is often in classical metres, but his theme is May and springtime, and he is always aware that death is never far away. There is something in his genial and gentle work, ambivalent in both joy and sadness, which perfectly matches Schubert's own temperament. The poet himself died young from tuberculosis. The disparity between many of Hölty's originals and the versions Schubert set, goes back to the fact that the composer used an edition of the poems 'improved' and edited by Hölty's friend J H Voss.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1989
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