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Lecture 12

MUAR 211 Lecture Notes - Lecture 12: Matthias Claudius, Syphilis, Dying Young

Music - Arts
Course Code
MUAR 211
Eric Smialek

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♪ Franz Schubert, Der Tod und das Mädchen, op. 7 no. 3, D. 531 (1817)
(Death and the Maiden) [on Exam #2] [Fischer Dieskau performing: audio only]
German original
English translation
Das Mädchen:
Vorüber! Ach, vorüber!
Geh, wilder Knochenmann!
Ich bin noch jung! Geh, lieber,
Und rühre mich nicht an.
Und rühre mich nicht an.
Der Tod:
Gib deine Hand, du schön und zart Gebild!
Bin Freund, und komme nicht, zu strafen.
Sei gutes Muts! ich bin nicht wild,
Sollst sanft in meinen Armen schlafen!
The Maiden:
Pass me by! Oh, pass me by!
Go, fierce man of bones!
I am still young! Go, rather,
And do not touch me.
And do not touch me.
Give me your hand, you beautiful and tender form!
I am a friend, and come not to punish.
Be of good cheer! I am not fierce,
Softly shall you sleep in my arms!
genre = Lied or art song
form = through-composed
language = German
ensemble = voice and piano
Schubert’s song is a setting of a poem by the
German poet Matthias Claudius (his name not on the
exam). • The work begins with a slow introduction in the
piano, which plays music that is later associated with the
words of Death himself (second stanza). The song ends
with a short postlude that repeats the music of the
Note that the women’s words are sung in a
dramatic and agitated style, which contrast sharply with
Death’s calm, ‘flat’, non-lyrical melody. The music
portrays the characters well.
Seven years after first composing his famous art
song Der Tod und das Mädchen, Schubert reused the
song’s melody in the slow second movement of his String
Quartet No. 14 in D minor, D. 810, also known as the
Death and the Maiden Quartet.
Composed in 1824, after the composer suffered
through a serious illness and realized that he was dying (he
was by that time in the tertiary stage of syphilis), some people have called the work Schubert's
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testament to death. The quartet is named for the theme of the second movement, but the theme
of death is palpable in all four movements of the quartet.
Clara Wieck Schumann (1819-1896)
One of the most important and influential
virtuoso concert pianists in the 19th century, Clara
was also a fine composer and a leading
‘interpreter’ of the music of her husband Robert
Schumann, as well as that of Beethoven, Chopin, and
Johannes Brahms, the latter of whom was a close
personal friend and confidant both before and after
Robert’s death.
She married the composer and influential
music critic Robert Schumann despite her father’s
strong objections to the marriage.
A very dynamic woman, Clara concertized,
composed, and cared for Robertwho was
increasingly terribly ill and irrational, eventually
dying young of syphillisand their seven children.
Clara was what we often call a “taste maker”,
because she performed a significant role in
‘educating’ and shaping the musical tastes of the
public at large, through frequent, impressive performance. She often performed the works of
earlier composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven, re-introducing the
works of these dead composers to new audiences.
Clara was instrumental in shaping our present-day conception of the piano concert. She
was the first pianist to memorize her programs, which has become a standard practice among
pianists. Although she performed “showy”, “bravura” work in her youth, in her later life she
chose very serious, weighty works that emphasized “musical content” over shallow, virtuosic
Despite her talent, industry and personal fortitude, Clara’s letters and diaries (‘primary
sources’) suggest that she largely accepted the societal attitudes that restricted the role of woman
to the domestic sphere, shielding them from public life and severely restricting their activities as
composers. In her later life she wrote:
“I once believed that I possessed creative talent, but I have given up this idea; a woman
must not desire to compose there has never yet been one able to do it. Should I expect
to be the one?"
- She is called the “taste maker because she influence the 19th century audience’s musical taste.
- She accepted the “fact” that women could not write symphonies because they were masculine
genres. She played/wrote music that had domestic power.
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