Do you hear the people sing



Old Lute (1840) Op. 35 no.12

Part of a series or song cycle:

Twelve poems by Justinus Kerner (Op. 35)

Old lute

Justinus Kerner

Do you hear the bird sing
Do you see the blossom tree
Heart! can't bring you that
Wistful young man's breast,
The time when I trusted
No herb in the hallway cures me;
And from the dream, the fear
An angel just wakes me up.

Sounds from the past

English Translation © Richard Stokes

Do you hear the bird singing?
Do you see the blossoming tree?
Heart, can that not bring you
Out of your fearful dream?
What do I hear? Old sounds
Of a melancholy youthful breast,
From that time when I trusted
No meadow herb will heal me;
And from the fearful dream,
Only an angel will wake me.
Translations by Richard Stokes, author of The Book of Lieder (Faber, 2005)

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Robert Schumann was a German composer and influential music critic. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest composers of the Romantic era. Schumann left the study of law, intending to pursue a career as a virtuoso pianist. He had been assured by his teacher Friedrich Wieck that he could become the finest pianist in Europe, but a hand injury ended this dream. Schumann then focused his musical energies on composing.

Schumann's published compositions were written exclusively for the piano until 1840; he later composed works for piano and orchestra; many songs (songs for voice and piano); four symphonies; at opera; and other orchestral, choral, and chamber works. Works such asChildren's scenesAlbum for the youthFlower piece, the Sonatas and Album sheets are among his most famous. His writings about music appeared mostly in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik (New Journal for Music), a Leipzig-based publication which he jointly founded.

In 1840, Schumann married Friedrich Wieck's daughter Clara, against the wishes of her father, following a long and acrimonious legal battle, which found in favor of Clara and Robert. Clara also composed music and had a considerable concert career as a pianist, the earnings from which formed a substantial part of her father's fortune.

Schumann suffered from a lifelong mental disorder, first manifesting itself in 1833 as a severe melancholic depressive episode, which recurred several times alternating with phases of ‘exaltation’ and increasingly also delusional ideas of being poisoned or threatened with metallic items. After a suicide attempt in 1854, Schumann was admitted to amental asylum, at his own request, in Endenich near Bonn. Diagnosed with "psychotic melancholia", Schumann died two years later in 1856 without having recovered from his mental illness.

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Justinus Andreas Christian Kerner was a German poet, practicing physician, and medical writer.

He was born at Ludwigsburg in Württemberg. After attending the classical schools of Ludwigsburg and Maulbronn, he was apprenticed in a cloth factory, but, in 1804, owing to the good services of Professor Karl Philipp Conz, was able to enter the University of Tübingen. He studied medicine but also had time for literary pursuits in the company of Ludwig Uhland, Gustav Schwab and others. He took his doctor's degree in 1808, spent some time traveling, and then settled as a practicing physician in Wildbad.

Here he completed his Travel shadow from the shadow player lynx (1811), in which his own experiences are described with caustic humor. He next collaborated with Uhland and Schwab in the Poetic almanac for 1812, which was followed by the German poet forest (1813), and in these some of Kerner's best poems were published. In 1815 he obtained the official appointment of district medical officer (Senior medical officer) in Gaildorf, and in 1818 was transferred to Weinsberg, where he spent the rest of his life.

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(As part of a song cycle / series :)