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The German Language

  • Charles Osborne

Abstract

InGermany, the development of solo song was rapid throughout the 18th century, although no major composer’s output of songs could be called voluminous. Although Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750), for example, wrote a good deal for the voice (more than 300 cantatas, several of them for solo voice and orchestra), he composed no more than five songs for solo voice and clavier. But it is from this trickle, increasing in size and importance with Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, that the great broad stream of Schubertian song derives. Bach’s five songs, transcribed in his second wife Anna Magdalena Bach’s Notenbuch, date from 1725. Their titles are: (1)’ so oft ich meine Tabakspfeife’; (2) ‘Bist du bei mir’; (3) ‘Gedenke doch’; (4) ‘Gieb dich zufrieden’; (5) ‘Willst du dein Herz mir schenken?’ The last song is sentimental, domestic; the first is heavily north Germanic in its philosophizing about the joys of smoking. The second, ‘Bist du bei mir’, a deceptively simple tune in which passion and spiritual power curiously combine, is the first great German Lied. ‘If thou art with me, then will I go joyfully to my death.’ The rapt ecstasy of the vocal line brings something of sensuousness to the religious fervour of the words. Everything is in the voice part, of course. The accompaniment is formal. It was to remain so until Mozart.

Keywords

German Language Folk Song Solo Song Love Song Great Cycle 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Charles Osborne 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles Osborne

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