Wilhelm Tell - Schiller-Galerie von Friedrich Pecht und von Arthur von Ramberg
Fotograma de Wilhelm Tell - F. Pecht & A. Ramberg

We all have in mind the scene: a boy with an apple on his head and his father, fifty paces away, who has to shoot an arrow through the apple. It's the punishment for having refused to uncover his head before the hat of the Austrian governor Hermann Gessler, a way to accept the subjection to the Habsburg demanded to the inhabitants of Bürglen.

The legend of William Tell, the hero of Switzerland independence, was told in 1804 by Friedrich von Schiller in his play Wilhelm Tell. When the curtain rises, we see Lake Lucerne and Ruodi, a young fisherman; we also see Kuoni the shepherd, who comes from the mountains, and Werni the hunter, on a cliff. Each of them sings a song before they reunite under the threat of a storm and the first dialogue of the play begins. Schiller specifies that the fisherman sings the melody of a well-known Swiss folk song, while the shepherd and the hunter sing two variations of the same melody, so I imagine that it would seem as if every man would sing a stanza of the same song.

These three songs were set to music by Franz Liszt in his cycle Drei Lieder aus Schillers "Wilhelm Tell"; he composed the first version in 1840, and in 1859, as he often did, he revised and simplified it. I suggest that we listen to the second version of the first song, Der Fischerknabe, which tells us about an undine trying to drag a fisherman who sleeps on the shore to the bottom of the lake. As you can imagine, the piece is not close to what Schiller had thought, surely because the composer never intended to write a folk-like song. Once it is taken out of context, it's a beautiful concert song that we're listening performed by Julia Kleiter and Julius Drake, who will perform the cycle in Vilabertran.

This week we're going over two concerts from the Schubertiada. The one by Julia Kleiter and Julius Drake, who will perform in addition to Liszt, lieder by Mahler, Wolf and Strauss. The second concert is that of Samuel Hasselhorn and Joseph Middleton, who have prepared a gorgeous programme with Schubert's lieder.

As always, after listening to Der Fischerknabe you'll find the links to the songs included in these two concerts that we heard so far on Liederabend.


Der Fischerknabe

Es lächelt der See, er ladet zum Bade,
Der Knabe schlief ein am grünen Gestade,
Da hört er ein Klingen,
Wie Flöten so süß,
Wie Stimmen der Engel
Im Paradies.

Und wie er erwachet in seliger Lust,
Da spülen die Wasser ihm um die Brust,
Und es ruft aus der Tiefe:
Lieb’ Knabe, bist mein!
Ich locke den Schläfer,
Ich zieh ihn herein.

Please follow this link if you need and English translation

Thursday 19 August: Julia Kleiter & Julius Drake

Tuesday 24 August: Sanuel Hasselhorn & Joseph Middleton

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