When Theodor Körner visited Vienna in 1813, he was introduced to the sixteen-year-old Schubert by Josef von Spaun, and the two conversed at some length. This poem thus describes an incident in Schubert’s own life—Körner bidding farewell to his Viennese admirers before departing for the front. Schubert had quickly become one of the poet’s friends, and it likely that Stephan Franz also knew Körner personally. Körner’s early death, a few weeks later at the Battle of Leipzig, became the stuff of legend; Schubert’s seventeen Körner songs, most of them drawn from the patriotic collection entitled Leyer und Schwert
(1814), are testimony to the composer’s sense of loss. Körner was deeply musical and he had memorably encouraged Schubert to continue with his music despite parental opposition. (The poet’s parents were close to both Schiller and Goethe, and the young Theodor had received career encouragement from the loftiest sources.) Stephan’s song, the last of Sechs Gedichte von Theodor Körner zum Gesang und Fortepiano
(1814), has all the characteristics of the Viennese, rather than the Berlin, lieder school. Like Neukomm, Franz was unafraid of bringing his knowledge of Mozart’s opera arias into the song form, or of creating a rhapsodic durchkomponiert structure where the piano provides lively and empathetic, rather than merely tacit, support. The other five lyrics in Franz’s set (Sängers Morgenlied
and Das gestörte Glück
) were all set by Schubert in 1815.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 2006