Meyerbeer played no personal part in Schubert’s life, but his star was in the ascendant in Austria at the same time as Schubert’s life was drawing to a close. In 1826, at the same concert where Stephan Franz’s violin variations were played there was an excerpt from Meyerbeer’s seventh opera Margharita’Anjou
. In early September, during his stay in Styria, Schubert heard a performance of Meyerbeer’s tenth opera, Il croacitto in Egitto
. The original libretto had been reworked into German by Josef Kupelwieser who was the librettist of Schubert’s opera Fierrabras
, so Schubert probably attended the performance at the Graz county theatre out of loyalty to his colleague. According to Anselm Hüttenbrenner (who had not seen Schubert for a long time) Schubert was unimpressed with Meyerbeer’s opera. It is interesting that as late as 1854 Schubert’s erstwhile Rosamunde
collaborator, Helmina von Chézy, was publishing adulatory poems about both Meyerbeer and Mendelssohn.
This song was written and published in Paris in 1837 as Guide au bord ta nacelle. In this bilingual edition there is a second verse added to Heine’s poem by Émile Deschamps (and a corresponding German translation) which is omitted here. Meyerbeer also made settings of Dass sie hier gewesen (Schubert’s D775) and Metastasio’s L’incanto degli occhi (Schubert’s D902 No 1). There is little indication that Meyerbeer knew Schubert’s Schwanengesang when he wrote this, but he knew the song’s poet, Heine, whom Schubert had never met.
comparative Schubert listening:
Das Fischermädchen No 10 of Schwanengesang, D957. August 1828
from notes by Graham Johnson © 2006