Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Not an hour of the night goes by

This song is one of the most beautiful and heartbreaking I know: "Wenn ich ein Vöglein wär" (If I were a little bird), a folk poem set by Robert Schumann. I've always loved it, and once sang it for a dear friend while we were driving from the suburbs back into New York City. She told me afterward that she found it so beautiful that she almost crashed her car.

While looking for a clip of it, however, I found many performances of the original folk song, which is exactly the same as Schumann's version, with the exception that it's in a major instead of a minor key -- which makes it a shockingly different song with an entirely different meaning. Here is a delightful performance.

The translation:

If I were a little bird
and had two little wings,
I would fly to you.
But since it cannot be,
I must stay here.

Although I'm far from you,
in sleep I'm beside you,
speaking with you.
But when I awaken,
I am alone.

Not an hour of the night goes by
that my heart doesn't awaken
And think of you,
and imagine that, many thousands of times,
you give your heart to me.

Above: "Solitary Tree" by Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840), one of the greatest artists of German Romanticism.


elena maria vidal said...

What a ravishing combination of art, music and poetry!!

Pentimento said...

Isn't it breathtaking? I think the take the tempo a little too fast, but this little song has as much dramatic weight and emotion as an entire opera.

Pentimento said...

I meant the Schumann was too fast, not the folk song . . . :)