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Marie, D658

First line:
Ich sehe dich in taüsend Bildern
May (?) 1819; first published in 1895
author of text
author of text

Schubert's perfect page of music, exquisite in vocal and accompanimental detail, seems to me to set a poem which reconciles the two warring themes: idealism and reality, sacred and profane. In November 1794, Novalis met the twelve-year-old Sophie von Kuhn who was to remain his Beatrice and Laura, the focal point of the poet's life even after her death at the age of fifteen. After this unexpected catastrophe, Novalis wrote in his notebook: 'I have religion for Sophie—not love. Absolute love, independent of the heart, grounded in faith is religion.'

It seems clear that Marie, the Madonna, is interchangeable in Novalis's mind with Sophie. Is this what Rosemary Redford Reuther means when she describes the Marian cult as the 'spiritual eroticism' of males who, like Schubert, had to struggle in order to reconcile sexuality with religion? The many pictures Novalis has seen of Mary can never equal the inner picture he has of her. After Sophie's death, the idealised lover and the humanised mother of God became one, just as in the poet's mind the profane life of the artist is at one with the sacred love of the priest. Perhaps Schubert, who despised the hypocritical hellfire-threatening clerics he came across, would have agreed with what Novalis wrote about the coming together of two worlds:

'Poet and priest were one in the beginning—only later times have separated them. The true poet is however always a priest, just as the true priest has always remained a poet. Ought not the future to bring back this ancient condition of things?'

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1991


Haydn, Schubert & Wolf: The divine muse
Studio Master: SIGCD606Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Schubert: The Complete Songs
CDS44201/40Boxed set + book (at a special price) — Download only
Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 13 - Marie McLaughlin
CDJ33013Last few CD copies remaining


Track 15 on CDJ33013 [1'33] Last few CD copies remaining
Track 21 on CDS44201/40 CD21 [1'33] Boxed set + book (at a special price) — Download only
Track 16 on SIGCD606 [1'30] Download only

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