WoO 118: Seufzer eines Ungeliebten - Gegenlieb

Время создания: конец 1794 или 1795 год.
Автор текста: Gottfried August Bürger (1747-1794)

Дитрих Фишер-Дискау, баритон
Jörg Demus, фортепиано

Two independent but related poems by Gottfried August Bürger form the text of Beethoven's "Seufzer eines Ungeliebten - Gegenliebe," WoO 118, published in Vienna in 1837.

The first strophe of Bürger's "Seufzer eines Ungeliebten" ("Sigh of an Unloved One") functions much like a recitative preceding an operatic aria in that it sets up the ensuing text. In this case, our unloved one asks mother nature why only he, of all living things, is without love. He then proceeds down the food chain, from forest animals to moss and herbs, in his description of creatures that are loved. In the final strophe of "Seufzer eines Ungeliebten" we finally learn the real source of the unloved one's anguish: "Denn ach! mir mangelt Gegenliebe / Die eine nur gewähren kann" ("Alas, I lack returned love / That only one can grant me."). Our hero seeks reciprocated love from a particular person, not just anyone. This initiates the segue into "Gegenliebe."

"Gegenliebe" ("Returned Love") is the unloved one's musing on what life would be like if the object of his affection would reciprocate his love. He tells her that if he knew she cared for him only a hundredth as much as he for her, his heart would burst into flame, for returned love only increases love.

"Seufzer eines Ungeliebten - Gegenliebe" is a recitative and two-part aria in which Beethoven reflects the contrasting emotional content of the two poems through contrasting keys, tempos and meters. Aspects of sonata-form composition pervade the piece. The first strophe of "Seufzer eines Ungeliebten" is set in recitative style in C minor, the piano providing punctuating chords and settling on the dominant of E-flat major. The ensuing piano passage introduces a through-composed, aria-like structure in E-flat major, the relative major of C minor. The two songs are spliced together by both a piano passage and a hesitant repetition of "Wüsst ich" ("If I knew"), the words with which "Gegenliebe" opens. "Gegenliebe" marks the first appearance of the melody Beethoven would use in the "Choral Fantasy," op. 80, in 1808. This tune also bears a striking resemblance to that of the "Ode to Joy" of the Ninth Symphony.

Structurally, "Gegenliebe" is unusual. Beethoven's setting of the first three strophes forms an ABA' pattern, while the final strophe is set to contrasting music that moves to the dominant. The entire structure occurs twice, a modulating piano passage and further repetitions of "Wüsst ich" providing a link. The music of the final strophe, however, does not move to the dominant, but is redirected toward the tonic, C major. Like the Choral Fantasy, "Seufzer eines Ungeliebten - Gegenliebe" begins in C minor and ends in C major.

Although more advanced than Beethoven's Bonn-era Lieder, "Seufzer eines Ungeliebten - Gegenliebe" does not show the relative independence of the piano and voice parts evident in Beethoven's later Lieder such as "Der Kuss," op. 128 and An die ferne Geliebte, op. 98.

(John Palmer, Rovi)


Seufzer eines Ungeliebten (из сборника Lyrische Gedichte, 1789)

Hast du nicht Liebe zugemessen
Dem Leben jeder Kreatur?
Warum bin ich allein vergessen,
Auch meine Mutter du! du Natur?

Wo lebte wohl in Forst und Hürde,
Und wo in Luft und Meer, ein Tier,
Das nimmermehr geliebet würde? --
Geliebt wird alles außer mir!

Wenn gleich im Hain, auf Flur und Matten
Sich Baum und Staude, Moos und Kraut
Durch Lieb' und Gegenliebe gatten;
Vermählt sich mir doch keine Braut.

Mir wächst vom süßesten der Triebe
Nie Honigfrucht zur Lust heran.
Denn ach! mir mangelt Gegenliebe,
Die Eine, nur Eine gewähren kann.