BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Tuesday, December 24, 1822

The Vienna music publishing firm of Cappi and Diabelli goes all in on Franz Schubert today, starting with the announcement of three newly-published sets of songs for voice and piano, as well as all of his previous compositions that had earned opus numbers. These songs had been written at various times over the preceding five years, and only now were being published.

First up is Gesänge des Harfners, op.12, on texts from Wilhelm Meister by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. This set of three songs is catalogued under D.478 today. A set of three songs on texts by various authors is grouped here as op.13: Der Schäfer und der Reiter, (now D.517), on a text by Motte Fouqué; Lob der Thränen (D.711) on a poem by August Schlegel; and Der Alpenjäger (D.524), on text by Johann Baptist Mayrhofer. Finally, Suleika und Geheimes, op.14 (first version), today catalogued as D.720, is set to a text by Marianne von Willemer.

Steiner’s typically florid description of these three offerings is: “Three volumes of the most selected songs by the brilliant tone poet, who has become a favorite of connoisseurs and song lovers in such a short time, are hereby presented to the public. The songs from Göthe’s Wilhelm Meister have often been set, but they have never been so deeply felt, so true and appealing. The other two offerings are no less pleasing. Fouqué’s and Mayerhofer’s poems will surprise every listener in this musical arrangement. But the songs from Goethe are set in a completely original spirit. In it, oriental glow is paired with such tenderness that you cannot miss the best effect. These three volumes will therefore adorn the breath of every connoisseur, and especially the more tender-feeling sex will have the warmest affection for these works.”

The first of the songs from Wilhelm Meister, Wer sich der Einsamkeit ergibt, D.478/1 (op.12/1) is here sung by Christoph Prégardien, with Andreas Staier on piano: