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This was the last song Schubert wrote before he crossed over, three days later, into song immortality with Gretchen am Spinnrade on 19 October 1814. For all its tuneful felicities there is nothing in Das Mädchen aus der Fremde to suggest the storm of musical emotion which was to break a few days later with the immortal monologue from Goethe's Faust. But sympathetic listening to Schiller's setting reveals an Innigkeit—a feeling of tenderness, mystery and empathetic concern—which demonstrates clearly that the composer of this music already has understanding and depth in plenty, and is simply waiting to be galvanised into a new dimension of musical expression. There is no doubt that Schiller was a more exciting dramatist than Goethe when it came to writing stage works, but many of his poems, almost certainly deliberately in this particular case, refrain from the sort of dramatic expression that can help a Lieder composer breathe life into his subjects. Schubert was to attempt another setting in 1815 (D252) where the music has a somewhat racier tone in Zauberflöte style.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1993
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