This week marks the passing of two musical giants – the great composer Robert Schumann on July 29 in 1856, and closer to our time, the great German baritone Hermann Prey on July 22 1998. What better way to remember them than with Prey singing one of Schumann’s most inspired compositions, Widmung Op. 25 No. 1? Schumann composed this song as a dedication to his bride, Clara Wieck. Set to a poem by Friedrich Ruckert, the text has an ecstatic quality so well captured in Schumann’s rising melodic line. This is a perfect marriage between text and music. Here is the English translation:
You my soul, you my heart, you my bliss, o you my pain, you the world in which I live; you my heaven, in which I float, o you my grave, into which I eternally cast my grief. You are rest, you are peace, you are bestowed upon me from heaven. That you love me makes me worthy of you; your gaze transfigures me; you raise me lovingly above myself, my good spirit, my better self!
Franz Liszt wrote a piano transcription of this song and it quickly became a popular encore piece for piano recitals. Here it is, exquisitely played by French
Joseph K. So is Professor Emeritus at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, but his first love is music, which he studied as an undergraduate student at the State University of New York. Since seeing his first live opera – La Gioconda with Renata Tebaldi at the Met in 1967, the singing voice became his lifelong favourite instrument. In addition to his longtime contributions to La Scena Musicale and The Music Scene, he is Associate Editor of Opera Canada and a frequent contributor to Musical Toronto.