Lied loves forests, meadows, mountains, rivers, the night, the moon, the stars. Lied loves, above anything else, wandering around. Lied loves all these things that have now become an unattainable luxury for all of us. We are in quarantine, at home, with the fridge full of food, all the supplies working, compulsively interacting with our screens. Even in the worst of times, we are the privileged first-world people.
Thus begins chapter 5 of the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament: with a great feast. Besides the king, of course, the thousand lords, their wives and their concubines drink. And you know how these things work: the king talks more than enough, the lords humour him, the situation goes further and Belshazzar ends up by making two mistakes. The first is quite serious: he commands to bring the golden and silver sacred vessels that his father Nebuchadnezzar took from [...]
The (musical) man of the year is Ludwig van Beethoven, I think there's little doubt about it; Wherever we look, programmes in halls are full of his works. So often heard many times, that's right, but I must admit that I enjoy them greatly. Oddly enough, some parts of his work are still rather unknown. His Lieder, for example. He wrote about ninety, of which the cycle An die ferne Geliebte is virtually the only one in the repertoire. Some of them remained unpublished during Beethoven's life, they might had been composed for private concerts, and some, for instance the one we're listening this week, left unfinished.
In the same notebook I wrote the last verse of Divine Comedy as a teenager, I wrote down these two verses; I also fell in love with them. I imagine we read them in our literature lesson, but I forgot about the context, a poem dedicated to Palma and written in Barcelona in September 1937. I remember how impressed I was by the poet's fate; I imagined him in the sanatorium, slowly ebbing away because of an incurable disease that I only knew through some of my readings. Without knowing any more, his name, Bartomeu Rosselló-Pòrcel, stuck in my mind and I’ve paid him some attention when I’ve come across his name now and then.
This name, Josef von Spaun, has appeared on this blog several times. Once, as the poet of a single Lied by Schubert, Der Jüngling und der Tod; always, as a friend of the composer. As I explained some other times, they met at the Stadtkonvikt. It was a boarding school where children from wealthy families were prepared for university, and also children on scholarships who sang at the Imperial Chapel's choir and who were allowed to stay even after their voice changed if their academic results were good enough. This way, as a choirboy, in October 1808 Franz Schubert joined a [...]