The genesis of An die Hoffnung
, Op 32, is bound up with Beethoven’s frustrated love in 1804-1805 for Countess Josephine von Brunsvik; Josephine wrote her mother on 24 March of that year to say, 'The good Beethoven has composed a lovely song for me on a text from Urania ‘An die Hoffnung’ as a gift for me'. Urania: Über Gott, Unsterblichkeit und Freiheit …
in sechs Gesängen (Urania: On God, Immortality, and Freedom in six cantos) by Christoph August Tiedge (1752-1841) refers to the muse of astronomy and astrology, from the Renaissance on, the muse of Christian poets as well ('Urania' means 'heavenly'). By the summer of 1805, however, Josephine had rebuffed Beethoven as a suitor and the composer removed her name from the dedication, but the song he wrote for her is indeed lovely. The reverential melody of this strophic song is constantly on the move, appropriate for Hope as a force of forward propulsion in human lives; its major mode optimism is rendered profound by darker touches of minor. The singer’s eloquent leap upward and thequiet blaze of a new (major) key for the acclamation to Hope—'O Hoffnung'—are unforgettable.
from notes by Susan Youens © 2009