Sunday, November 1, 2009

Hugo Wolf

Today I was ranging around the Internet and came upon this photo of a monument in Graz, Austria -- I think -- to Hugo Wolf.

Hugo Wolf is a composer I love.

And I love his name in Italian. It is Ugo Wolf!

That is how the Italian photographer identified his photograph of the Austrian monument to Wolf.

Wolf seems to get bashed a lot because people consider his songs boring, or tough to take. I disagree. Maybe I am made for this stuff. I like Chekhov plays too and everyone is always trying to tell me they are boring. I remember once watching "Uncle Vanya" and thinking, this could go on all night and I would love it, watching various scenes unfold, listening in on various conversations.

One song of Wolf I love is "Verschwiegene Liebe." That piano! Hypnotic! A beautiful video too, with translation. There is this girl who loves Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and she does beautiful videos to go with his performances.

Not that she loves Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau more than I do. No one loves Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau more than I do.

Where was I? Hugo Wolf.

Wolf wrote beautiful religious songs that put people from Scriptures into a context that is very loving and human. He was sometimes inspired by paintings and it was as if he could take a picture and put you in it, so you can feel what the people felt and sense what they sensed. One Wolf song I love and keep going back to over the years is "Nun Wandre, Maria," about Mary on the way to Bethlehem. You can feel how tired she and St. Joseph are getting. Not to mention the donkey she is riding on! I bet the donkey is getting pretty tired too.

I can't find that song on YouTube. I looked and looked. Alas!

So here is "Schlafendes Jesuskind," or "sleeping Christ child." I love how the song ends, with a kind of tender question.

Once I visited Hugo Wolf's grave in Vienna. It is surprisingly erotic. Most people do not warrant a gravestone like this! Here is a picture.

Hugo Wolf wrote a song called "Anakreon's Grave." In the song you kind of stumble on the grave, you wonder whose it is and oh, it is Anakreon's.

Winter, summer and fall the happy poet enjoyed
Now finally this stone protects him from winter.

That is my own translation of the last few lines. Isn't it beautiful? The poem is by Goethe. The author Robert Gutman used that quote to preface his biography of Mozart.

This is such a beautiful thing to be doing on an autumn night.

Listening to Hugo Wolf.

1 comment:

  1. Stephen and I saw Hugo Wolf's memorial tombstone in Vienna. Beautiful!