Rosenhain - P.A. Renoir
Rosenhain- P.A. Renoir

The sapphic strophe was originated at the Ancient Greek, and is named after the poet Sappho. It also was used by Horace and other Roman poets, and eventually its metre was adapted to the different European languages, keeping its original structure. It was easy to illustrate this strophe with an example in the Catalan version of the post, because Spanish literature lesson plans in the high school used to include Romantic poet Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, and every student learned by heart some of his poems, many of them in sapphic stanza.

I must admit I don't know if there is a similar case in English literature or a well-known poem in English with this structure, but let's say the stanza has four unrhymed lines; the first three are hendecasyllable and the last line has only five syllables. We identify this general form in a poem called Gereimte sapphische Ode (in this case, the poem is rhymed); its author, the pianist, composer and poet Hans Schmidt sent it to his friend Johannes Brahms, who wrote with this verses one of his more beautiful songs.

Sapphische Ode, a nocturne, has two stanzas musically almost identical; the verses of the first refer to the scent of roses, and the dew that showers the one who picks them, while the second stanza, making a parallelism, talks about the fragrance of kisses, and tears that fall over the lovers. We're listening to this Lied performed by Thomas Quasthoff and Justus Zeyen; Ema Nikolovska and Wolfram Rieger are performing it in Vilabertran.

This is the last post dedicated to the Schubertíada this year, we review the three last recitals with very young singers: that of mezzo-soprano Ema Nikolovska; the concert of the Academy, with two duets, baritone Ferran Albrich and Marc Serra, and soprano Cecilia Rodríguez and Jesús López-Blanco, and, finally, soprano Anna-Lena Elbert accompanied by Kota Sakaguchi.

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


Sapphische Ode


Rosen brach ich nachts mir am dunklen Hage;
Süßer hauchten Duft sie als je am Tage;
Doch verstreuten reich die bewegten Äste
Tau, der mich näßte.

Auch der Küße Duft mich wie nie berückte,
Die ich nachts vom Strauch deiner Lippen pflückte;
Doch auch dir, bewegt im Gemüt gleich jenen,
Tauten die Tränen.

By night I picked roses from the dark hedge;
They breathed a sweeter fragrance than by day;
But the movement of the branches richly
Showered me with dew.

I was also captivated as never before by the fragrance of your kisses,
Which I picked by night from your rose-bush lips:
But you, too, moved just as they did in your mind,
And shed a dew of tears!

(translation by Emily Ezust)


Saturday 28 August: Ferran Albrich & Marc Serra / Cecilia Rodríguez & Jesús López Blanco

Saturday 28 August: Ema Nikolovska & Wolfram Rieger

Sunday 29 August: Anna-Lena Elbert & Kota Sakaguchi

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