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Das Lied im Grünen, D917

First line:
Ins Grüne, ins Grüne, da lockt uns zie Frühling
June 1827; published in 1829
author of text

For a ramble through the highways and byways of springtime and spring thoughts, what could be better than this song? It meanders gently through the countryside modulating only at major crossroads; the smaller country lanes are explored within the home key of A major and only Schubert could devise such charming twists and turns inside the compass of a pianist's hand. The form of this relaxed song is nevertheless masterful, however tempting it may be to imagine that Schubert made it up as he went along, like whimsical decisions taken on a country ramble or pub crawl. There are three main melodies. Verses 1 and 2 are set to the main A major tune; verses 3 and 4 are set to the second tune in D major with a momentary excursion into B flat major. The same two keys contrast in exactly the same way in Mein! from Die schöne Müllerin. In rondo fashion verse 5 returns to the A major tune. Only in verse 6 does the third tune appear, derived from the first, but this time with the added presence of the relative minor. The last verse seems an ordinary rondo repeat at first, but it goes into D major and then into D minor for momentary musings on mortality. The whole effect is like glimpsing a familiar and loved landmark from different angles in the course of a leisurely walk: once you get home you realise your stroll has taken you full circle. Lovers of Schubert's piano music might recognise the tonality and mood of the last movement of the A major Sonata (D959). Both song and sonata movement have melodic reminiscences of another remarkable song of spring greenery: the first eight quavers of Das Lied im Grünen seem to be directly fashioned after the semiquavers of the first piano interlude-variation in Im Frühling.

Friedrich Reil was an actor and author, a Rhinelander who moved to Vienna in 1801. He was probably in contact with Schubert in May and June 1827 when both men found themselves relaxing in Dornbach which is a village to the west of Vienna near the Wiener Wald. It is certain that the composer set this poem from the manuscript. When it was published in October 1827 (well before the song's publication) Reil added the words 'Was often sung here and there in the meadows during the summer by a merry company to a lively and agreeable tune by Schubert'. There is some confusion as to how many of the verses of the song should be performed: the posthumous first edition inserted a verse, not to be found in the autograph, mentioning the poet's studious acquaintance, as a boy, with the works of Horace, Plato, Wieland and Kant. Musically, this renders an already extensive country ramble a little too prolix. It is probable that Reil added these words after Schubert's death. After all it was he who added spurious verses to the Shakespeare settings Ständchen (Hark, hark the lark) and Trinklied. Like Schlechta (see notes to Widerschein, Volume 2) Reil seems to have been rather fond of his poetic efforts, and not unaware that the more he had to do with the departed master's music, the more his words would be assured of immortality. As a professional actor he would also have understood the necessity for cuts. We have decided to follow the autograph here and restore the song to its original, slightly shorter, form.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1989


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CDS44201/40Boxed set + book (at a special price) — Download only
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Schubert: The Songmakers' Almanac Schubertiade
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Track 2 on CDD22010 CD2 [4'22] 2CDs Dyad (2 for the price of 1) — Archive Service
Track 2 on CDJ33005 [5'01] Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40
Track 16 on CDS44201/40 CD33 [5'01] Boxed set + book (at a special price) — Download only

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