Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Following the Lieder

A dear and interesting person named Solange writes on a post last week about Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau:

No question DFD had a wonderful voice, but frankly I just don't "get" lieder. They always seem to be mooning over love and swanning around forests and fields and whatnot and I just want to say, "Oh go soak your head." I remain to be convinced.

That is Solange pictured above, writing her opinion out carefully and sincerely for us to read! Solange, we thank you for your honesty, not to mention wit. You cracked me up!

I wrote something flip in reply like, "Oh, Solange, I will convince you." 

But now I am not sure how I can.

I just always loved Lieder. I liked Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau first, but then my brother Tony gave me this German lieder collection, the Seraphim Guide to German Lieder, that featured Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, and I took to it right away, no matter who was singing them.

Thinking about it now, I think liking or not liking Lieder is like liking or not liking opera, or symphonies. I mean, you are going to like some better than others. But there is a world out there.

Yes, a lot of them are about love. That's life.

A lot of them are about forests and fields. That is a German thing, you are going to get that, yes.

But what is not to love?

For starters this tender song by Schubert:

Here it is sung beautifully by the Frenchman Gerard Souzay.

I regret that neither of these videos has a translation but the gist is, the singer is inviting the beloved in to see his heart and what lies inside it. He talks about opening the gate and shutting it quietly behind you. That is in the second verse.

It is flowery but you could say Shakespeare is flowery too. Love and tenderness and floweriness are a big part of being human.

Say I.

What say you, mysterious Solange out there in Blog-O-Land?


  1. Exquisite voices, but as for the song, well for me it's "sleepytime down south." Pretty lullabies. Not dramatic. Not interesting.

    I've sort of dipped in and out of Schubert over the years ... but there was one song - or melody - that gave me a thrill. It was in that Hollywood biopic film of Schubert - the 30s? 40s? - and was so astonishingly beautiful you couldn't believe a human could write it.

    Can you identify the film and the song, Mary?

  2. Solange, I will have to come up with some Action Lieder for you. I have a few in mind. Also that mention of the Schubert biopic sounds like a wonderful excuse to find it on YouTube and blow a few hours watching it. I think it was called "Lilac Time." I also think I have the record somewhere. I will look for it tonight!