Portrait of Christina Rossetti - Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Portrait of Christina Rossetti - G.D. Rossetti


Christina Rosetti was born in 1830 into a family in which poetry was omnipresent. His father, Gabriele, was a poet and a professor of Italian at King's College London, after he was forced to leave Italy for political reasons. His mother, Frances Polidori, was the daughter of another Italian writer who had been exiled (and also the sister of the Polidori who we place within the circle of Lord Byron). The best Italian and English poets were studied in that home, and all four children were also poets (for instance, Dante Gabriel is the author of the poems of Ralph Vaughan Williams's The House of Life).

The youngest child, Christina, started dating her poems when she was twelve. In 1848, he wrote a poem known from the first verse, When I am dead, my dearest, or from either of these two titles, Requiem or Song. It was included in the collection that established her as a poet, Goblin Market and Other Poems (1862), and became one of the most well-known.

That beautiful poem about death, written by an eighteen-year-old girl, caught the attention of a twenty-three-year-old composer, Erich Wolfgang Korngold. I'm not sure if he read the poem in English, hence the German version of the literary critic Alfred Kerr, or if he knew the translation. Whatever it was, the poem became a song, Sterbelied [Song of death]

Sterbelied is the first of the four Lieder des Abschieds, Op. 24 [Songs of Farewell], a cycle published in 1920, the same year Korngold premiered Die tote Stadt. Julia Kleiter and Julius Drake will be performing it at the Schubertiade on 21 August; It is the second of the four song recitals we are focusing on this week, four concertos at which we will hear five sopranos. The previous day, we will listen to Katharina Konradi and Ammiel Bushakevitz, and two days later we'll have two concerts: a Schubertíada Academy with Mireia Tarragó and Carmen Santamaria, and Elionor Martínez and Olivia Zaugg, and, later, the recital of the professors of the Academy, Dorothea Röschmann and Wolfram Rieger.

Sarah Connolly and Iain Burnside perform Sterbelied here on Liederabend. As usual, you can find a list of the songs in the four recitals after the poem.



Lass Liebster, wenn ich tot bin,
lass du von Klagen ab;
Statt Rosen und Cypressen
wächst Gras auf meinem Grab:
Ich schlafe still im Zwielichtschein
in schwerer Dämmernis;
Und wenn du willst, gedenke mein
und wenn du willst, vergiss.

Ich fühle nicht den Regen,
ich she’ nicht, ob es tagt;
ich höre nicht die Nachtigall,
die in den Büschen klagt:
Vom Schlaf erweckt mich keiner,
die Erdenwelt verblich.
Vielleicht gedenk ich deiner,
vielleicht vergass ich dich.

When I am dead, my dearest,
Sing no sad songs for me;
Plant thou no roses at my head,
Nor shady cypress tree:
Be the green grass above me
With showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember,
And if thou wilt, forget.

I shall not see the shadows,
I shall not feel the rain;
I shall not hear the nightingale
Sing on, as if in pain:
And dreaming through the twilight
That doth not rise nor set.
Haply I may remember,
And haply may forget.


Sunday 20 August: Katharina Konradi and  Ammiel Bushakevitz

Monday 21 Agust: Julia Kleiter and Julius Drake

Wednesday 23 August: Mireia Tarragó and Carmen Santamaría; Elionor Martínez and Olivia Zaugg

Wednesday 23 August: Dorothea Röschmann and Wolfram Rieger

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