DER EINSIEDLER Komm, Trost der Welt, du stille Nacht! Wie steigest du von den Bergen sacht, die Lueften alle schlafen, ein Schiffer nur noch Wandermued' singt uebers Meer Sein Abendlied zu Gottes Lob im Hafen. Die Jahre wie die Wolken gehn und lassen mich mich hier einsam stehn, die Welt hat mich vergessen; da tratst du wunderbar zu mir, wenn ich beim Waldesrauschen hier Gedankenvoll gesessen. O Trost der Welt, du stille Nacht! Der Tag hat mich so mued' gemacht. das weite Meer schon dunkelt. Lass ausruhn mich von Lust und Noth, Bis dass das ew'ge Morgenrot den stillen Wald durchfunkelt. --- Josef von Eichendorff (1788-1857) -----------------------------------------------
Note: Umlauted vowels are indicated by following the vowel with an 'e'.
I had known this poem since high school and because of its language and imagery wanted to set it music: It is a good poem, but not a *great* poem, written by a 19th century poet who might be called a Roman Catholic Mystic, and therefore also probably a heretic. Fortunately, they were no longer being burned at the stake, and we have his poetry.
Finally in 1973, inspired by the heavenly voice of a young soprano whose name is Maureen Balke, I did the deed. The setting is for Soprano and Organ. I found out much later that Max Reger had also set the poem for Baritone and orchestra; I've yet to see the score or hear the work. Maureen sang the Premiere together with the organist John Weissrock, the most musical and virtuosic organist I've had the privilege of knowing.
The piece, dedicated to the memory of Elisabeth B. Bahnsen nee Packard was not only well received, but the performance was perhaps the finest of performances of any of my compositions. Uncharacteristically, the musical setting is tonal, in E minor with chromatic excursions.
John and Maureen subsequently recorded the work. It might still be available someplace on "Outreach Records". John Weissrock is currently organist at Gesu Church on the Marquette University Campus in Milwaukee at 12th and Wisconsin; he is, in my estimation, one of the truly great virtuoso organists of our times, and yet relatively unknown. He actually does what many other organists can only dream of, all with the most profound taste, and respect for the composer.
For the performance and the record jacket, I worked out a translation that made me happier than any translation that I had seen; subsequently I decided that any translation is a kludge and ruins the esthetics of sentiment, sound and cadence. There is no translation here. Learn German.
The music for Der Einsiedler was written in, and probably got me out, of a very deep but short lived depression; it is therefore, not unreasonably, one of my favorite children.
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