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FRANZ SCHUBERT (31 January 1797 – 19 November 1828), AUSTRIA, ROMANTICISM (SCHUBERT PAGE►https://goo.gl/jnioPb)
«Erlkönig» is a poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. It depicts the death of a child assailed by a supernatural being, the Erlking or «Erlkönig» (suggesting the literal translation «alder king», but see below).
An anxious young boy is being carried home at night by his father on horseback. To what sort of home is not spelled out; German Hof has a rathFRANZ SCHUBERT (31 January 1797 – 19 November 1828), AUSTRIA, ROMANTICISM (SCHUBERT PAGE►https://goo.gl/jnioPb)
«Erlkönig» is a poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. It depicts ter broad meaning of «yard,» «courtyard,» «farm,» or (royal) «court.» The lack of specificity of the father’s social position allows the reader to imagine the details.
As the poem unfolds, the son seems to see and hear beings his father does not; the reader cannot know if the father is indeed aware of their presence, but he chooses to comfort his son, asserting reassuringly naturalistic explanations for what the child sees – a wisp of fog, rustling leaves, shimmering willows. Finally, the child shrieks that he has been attacked. The father rides faster to the Hof. There he recognizes that the boy is dead.
The poem has often been set to music with Franz Schubert’s rendition, his Opus 1 (D. 328), being the best known.
Franz Schubert composed his Lied «Erlkönig» for solo voice and piano in 1815, setting text from Goethe’s poem. Schubert revised the song three times before publishing his fourth version in 1821 as his Opus 1; it was catalogued by Otto Erich Deutsch as D. 328 in his 1951 catalog of Schubert’s works.
The four characters in the song – narrator, father, son, and the Erlking – are all sung by a single vocalist. Schubert placed each character largely in a different vocal range, and each has his own rhythmic nuances; in addition, most singers endeavor to use a different vocal coloration for each part.
The Narrator lies in the middle range and begins in the minor mode.
The Father lies in the lower range and sings in both minor and major mode.
The Son lies in a higher range, also in the minor mode.
The Erlking’s vocal line, in the major mode, provides the only break from the ostinato bass triplets in the accompaniment until the boy’s death.
A fifth character, the horse, is implied in rapid triplet figures played by the pianist throughout the work, mimicking hoof beats.
«Erlkönig» starts with the piano playing rapid triplets to create a sense of urgency and simulate the horse’s galloping. The left hand of the piano part introduces a low-register leitmotif composed of successive triplets. The right hand plays triplets throughout the piece until the last three bars. The constant triplets drive the frequent modulations of the piece as it switches between the characters.
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