Schubert – Ganymed | «Wie im Morgenglanze» Poem by Goethe

Franz Schubert – Ganymed («Wie im Morgenglanze»), song for voice & piano, D. 544 (Op. 19/3). 1817.

«Wie im Morgenglanze
Du rings mich anglühst,
Frühling, Geliebter!
Mit tausendfacher Liebeswonne
Sich an mein Herz drängt
Deiner ewigen Wärme
Heilig Gefühl,
Unendliche Schöne!

Daß ich dich fassen möcht’
In diesen Arm!

Ach, an deinem Busen
Lieg’ ich, schmachte,
Und deine Blumen, dein Gras
Drängen sich an mein Herz.
Du kühlst den brennenden
Durst meines Busens,
Lieblicher Morgenwind!
Ruft drein die Nachtigall
Liebend nach mir aus dem Nebeltal.
Ich komm’, ich komme!
Wohin? Ach, wohin?

Hinauf! Hinauf strebt’s.
Es schweben die Wolken
Abwärts, die Wolken
Neigen sich der sehnenden Liebe.
Mir! Mir!
In eurem Schosse
Umfangend umfangen!
Aufwärts an deinen Busen,
Alliebender Vater!

Poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, in which the character of the mythic youth Ganymede is seduced by God (or Zeus) through the beauty of Spring.

The year 1817 saw Franz Schubert set more than 70 poems, resulting in some of his very finest songs. Of these, it may be Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Ganymed that drew from him the deepest musical response.

Though Schubert’s attempt in 1816 to interest Goethe in his music had resulted in a snub from the venerated poet, he continued to use his verses as the bases for lieder. Schubert also dedicated his Op. 19 collection, which includes «Ganymed,» to Goethe prior to its publication (though he skipped the customary step of asking the writer’s permission before committing the dedication to print).

Ganymed was the fabled Trojan youth who, called by Zeus, was carried up into Olympus to become the gods’ immortal cup-bearer. Goethe’s treatment of the legend avoids references to anything specifically Greek, instead focusing on the beautiful comfort of nature and the love of – and for – the divine.

Schubert’s setting is marked Etwas langsam (rather slow) and falls into several broad sections, each characterized by distinctive accompanimental figuration in the piano that captures something of the unfolding poem’s essence. The calm stillness of the morning saturates the opening; the singer softly intrudes on the poised, delicate seven-measure piano introduction, transforming the accompaniment into a repeating background figure that only moves forth into new territory as the poem goes on to tell of the «thousand-fold delights of love.»

The composer’s love of striking chromatic modulations is apparent throughout, as in the serene A flat major opening that moves into the rich land of C flat major to «languish» within a field of flowers. E major emerges from within the piano’s rolling gestures («you quench my burning thirst»); then, as the real action of the story begins to unfold and Ganymed begins his ascension, Schubert provides some bouncing eighth notes that gradually spin their way into F major and proceed sequentially within this final tonality. From time to time, «Ganymed» is interrupted by reflective pauses in the action, including two ecstatic salutations to the «All-loving Father,» the second of which moves from a passionate fortissimo all the way down to the ethereal pianissimo that ends the song.

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