Harry E. Seelig (Amherst)
My current analysis of Hermann Reutter’s radical aesthetic distillation of Goethe’s original cycle of some 220 poems, an outgrowth of my scholarly interest in mini-cyclical lied settings of Goethe’s Divan that has been ongoing over several decades, draws on several methodological suggestions of earlier WMA-‘Forum’-contributions on cyclic structure by Walter Bernhart (2001) and Suzanne Lodato (2001). In particular, Lodato’s recent study (2005) that ingeniously makes use of fin-de-siècle German naturalist and impressionist literary prose techniques to elucidate the musico-poetic devices in several contemporaneous lieder by Richard Strauss can be seen to prefigure my investigation of Hermann Reutter’s mid-twentieth-century Divan lieder. But while her intermedial and cross-genre analysis focuses on metrical analogies between naturalistic prose and impressionistic poetic lied settings, my study juxtaposes specific early-19th-century syntactic and phonetic elements in Goethe’s innovative prosody to the widely varying musical textures in Reutter’s Divan compositions of 1949.
Whereas in the 19th century German Romanticism’s celebrated lied composers Schubert, Schumann, and Hugo Wolf usually chose seminal poems about ‘Wine, Women, and Song’ from the same few sections of the Divan’s twelve ‘book’-like groupings of widely varying poetry, 20th-century European composers like Othmar Schoeck, Ernst Pepping, Luigi Dallapiccola, and above all Hermann Reutter have all chosen poems that express philosophic or even mystical ideas as well. And Reutter has chosen six poems (see appendix A) from five crucially different books that reflect and refract a much fuller spectrum of Goethe’s diverse east-western panorama in a remarkably concentrated aesthetic distillation than is readily apparent at first hearing or without literary-musical analysis of any kind. In part, this results from the composer’s own exclusion of ‘logic’ from what might have led him to the choices he made. To paraphrase Reutter’s letter (see appendix B) to me in 1967, it was ultimately a matter of his ‘feeling’ that the individual lieder seemed to fit well together while also contrasting effectively with each other. Yet what actually did guide his compositional imagination were four considerations: these included using (a) deliberately varied vocal possibilities, particularly recitatives in dramatic and arioso style; (b) 2-part, 3-part, and rondo-like lied forms; (c) tonal, polytonal, and atonal harmonies; and (d) homophonic and polyphonic styles wherever appropriate.
Born in 1900, Hermann Reutter began studying composition in 1920, those fateful years following WWI when the Viennese composers Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern were evolving the once so revolutionary 12-tone technique in large part by applying it to their atonal lied compositions. In such aesthetic turbulence the young conservatory student from Stuttgart confronted the problem of finding public success even while refining his own musical style that encompassed an eclectic range between late Romanticism and early Modernism (Bauni 2002). His six Divan settings exhibit traits that run the gamut of mid-20th-century lied possibilities, as brief notational excerpts from these settings that, as far as I know, have not yet been commercially recorded, will demonstrate. Obviously his letter of 1967 hardly does justice to the contrastive range of Reutter’s musical textures.
In music example1a, the first two measures of piano introduction anticipate the aggressively dissonant and chromatic texture of “Selige Sehnsucht”, the initial setting in Reutter’s mini-cycle:
Example 1a (mm. 1-2):
The polytonality already foreshadowed in the bold chromaticism here will come to dominate this setting later, when both soprano and baritone voice lines are present, as the following music examples (1b and 1c) clearly demonstrate:
Example 1b (mm. 5-8):
Example 1c (mm. 22-26):
By striking contrast with the aggressively polytonal setting of “Selige Sehnsucht”, music examples 2a and 2b (below) preview the relatively monotonal and serenely homophonic soprano setting of “Es ist gut”, a gentle lullaby that praises God’s two loveliest creative ‘ideas’ (“zwei lieblichste Gedanken”), namely Adam and ‘a little Eve’ (“ein Evchen”), soundly sleeping, and pronounces them ‘good’ in the biblical idiom. In mm. 1-3 the vocal line ascends evocatively (toward the moonlight’s celestial source) before it descends to a more earthly if paradisiacal realm:
Example 2a (mm. 1-4):
And measures 32-33 illustrate Reutter’s unabashedly conventional method of underscoring, in quasi-contrary motion (as the piano line ascends toward the soprano’s repeated high notes), the poet-Adam’s arms as they entwine Eve’s and thereby embody God’s two quintessentially life-begetting thoughts; in other words, the ‘embrace’ suggested by the intertwined arms (“Erdeschranken”) of the Creator’s ‘two sweetest thoughts’ is here consummated musically as well:
Example 2b (mm. 32-33):
In another instance of Reutter’s dramatic use of contrast, the following two music examples (3a and 3b) introduce – by way of the piano opening and the vocal entry – the wildly percussive and seemingly disjunctive multi-metered and syncopated tour-de-force “Der Winter und Timur”, a discursive 33-line poem of unrhymed trochaic tetrameter in which the personified force of nature, namely “Winter”, angrily denounces the ugly despot “Timur” (said to have had one blind eye and one lame foot) as a ‘tyrant of injustice’ (“Tyrann des Unrechts”), at the conclusion of which Nature swears to God (“Hör’ es Gott”, sung to the same vocal notes as in m. 5 of ex. 3b) to defeat Timur’s evil minions with deadly cold by denying them the warmth of nature’s fire:
Example 3a (mm. 1-2):
Example 3b (mm. 4-6):
The composer’s choice of this problematic text and his highly appropriate (92!) measures of explosively dissonant ‘dramatic recitative’ (App. B) deserve further literary-musical study in their own terms, but both of these aesthetic issues are beyond consideration in this immediate context.
In a radical change of mood and texture, and very analogous to the soprano setting of “Es ist gut” (examples 2a and 2b), music example 4 demonstrates the subtly polyphonic arioso-texture created by the contemplative soprano and piano lines of “Woher ich kam”, which expounds (in two chromatically ascending melodic phrases, first 8 bars long, then only 4) one of Goethe’s most frequent and lifelong observations about pain and joy (“Schmerz und Lust”), namely that they are actually opposite extremes of the vast continuum that constitutes human emotions:
Example 4 (mm. 1-5):
The subtly balanced meditation on “Woher ich kam” is followed by Reutter’s ingenious setting of one of Goethe’s boldest emulations of the Perian ghazel form: music example 5 illustrates the first of (12!) freely meandering melismatic recitative-like evocations of alternating piano and baritone voice lines in tranquil imitation of an Islamic muezzin’s haunting call to prayer that proto-liturgically proclaims the eleven Allah-inspired names for the beloved Suleika of “In tausend Formen”, the musical-poetical structure of which will be further analyzed below:
Example 5 (mm. 1-4):
And finally, example 6a reveals the whirling and cacophonous perpetual-(and contrary-) motion-merging of stasis and movement that projects “Unbegrenzt” so dynamically in its tonally and metrically constrained yet paradoxically ‘unlimited’ monotony:
Example 6a (mm. 1-4):
A comparison of measure 1 and the last three measures (20-22) of “Unbegrenzt” demonstrates in nuce that the eternal (musical) recurrence of ‘beginning and ending’ is ultimately the very same bombastic Eb sonority:
Example 6b (mm. 20-22):
This preview of characteristic excerpts from all six of Reutter’s settings enables one to see the ‘reciprocal symmetry’ in this mini-cycle: the first and last are duets ‘embracing or framing’ four vocal solos that alternate between soprano and baritone. As can be seen between the brackets after the titles of the six poems in Appendix A, these settings are drawn from six different ‘books’ of the complete Divan poems that Goethe eventually and painstakingly organized into twelve cyclic sections. Hoping to enhance the fascinating connections and interrelations between and among these many poems, Goethe originally intended to create thirteen books but finally settled on twelve; nevertheless, it is significant that Irmgard Wagner (1999: 134) has very recently deemed this 12-part structure to be “poetologically programmed” and rather uncanny that Hermann Reutter unerringly selected six of the most difficult and philosophic poems from four out of five sub-groupings (among the entire twelve books) that Wagner considers to be poetologically related. But clearly his choice of “Selige Sehnsucht”, which she and countless Goethe scholars before her consider to be “the most famous poem of the entire cycle” (ibid.), as the pre-eminent setting in his Divan mini-cycle, dictates the major focus of any analysis of these compositions qua song cycle of any kind imaginable.
If we look at the poem itself, it is clear why “Blessed Longing” is so fundamentally programmatic for the Divan as a whole, but for over a century this was decidedly not the case. And at the very same time Hermann Reutter was working out the polytonal structures that so passionately proclaim (in the melodically discordant opening major-seventh [b>a-sharp] interval) the poetic persona’s resounding injunction “Sagt – es – nie – mand [
]” (mm. 5-6 in example 1b) and the repeated but varied development of this essential motif in both the first and fifth (“und - so - lang – du [
]”) stanzas of this exuberant setting, the late dean of Goethe scholars, Erich Trunz, had already pointed to the quintessential significance of this poem for the central themes in the entire Divan, namely those of love and religion, here inexorably intertwined in Trunz’s characteristic terminological polarity of ‘eigentlich’ and ‘uneigentlich’ (cf. Trunz, ed. 1964: 452), but ubiquitous in the other books as well, whether as ‘undertones’ in all of them or as the common root in four of them: the respective Books of Love, Suleika, the Parsee, and Paradise (cf. ibid.: 473). Trunz’s concepts of ‘eigentlich’ and ‘uneigentlich’ represent his way of uniting and differentiating the simultaneity of the mundane and the metaphorical in the Persian lyrics of Goethe’s 14th-century Eastern predecessor and mentor Hafiz. This physical and spiritual simultaneity underlies every poetic image used by Hafiz and fundamentally rejuvenated Goethe’s own creative life at sixty-five, a phenomenon the English Goethe scholar James Boyd sees most vividly present in the confluence of Goethe’s general theory of metamorphosis and the specific immolation experienced so empirically by the moth or butterfly (‘Schmetterling’) in “Selige Sehnsucht” (179).
Irmgard Wagner’s already cited poetological understanding of the Divan is ratcheted up a further notch in a most recent take on “the images of ‘Flammentod,’ ‘umfangen / In der Finsternis Beschattung,’ and ‘des Lichts begierig’” in stanzas 1, 3, and 4 of “Selige Sehnsucht”. According to Bishop and Stephenson, these images recall, on the one hand, the imagery of light and dark found in a section of the Koran Goethe knew well; on the other, “there is clearly an erotic subtext [here], recalling the frank enjoyment of sexuality in a religion whose Prophet had many wives and who taught that heaven is a garden of delights full of beautiful women” (2004: 316). Yet, while Goethe’s seemingly mystical poem is perhaps his most profound, Bishop and Stephenson go on to say that
it is also his most potentially playful treatment of the ‘die-and-become’ [“Stirb und werde!” (line 18)] theme. It is characteristic of the temper of the late Goethe that the human psyche is set free in this poem only after the human body’s needs are fulfilled. The ‘secret’ that cannot be spoken, for fear of misunderstanding, turns out, on attentive reading of the aesthetic form, to be not a mystical formula, but a down-to-earth truth that the intellect nevertheless finds hard to grasp: namely, that the self-development so dear to human aspiration demands the (temporary) renunciation not just of the flesh (once enjoyed!) but also of the spirit, when it threatens irretrievable damage by undue prolongation. So much is clear from the final stanza, which, at the same time as it didactically insists on the age-old call to self-transcendence, also slyly, with the cunning of poetry’s playfulness, insinuates the indispensable part that earthiness plays in self-refinement: the untranslatable intensification of the outward form of German – the rhyme of ‘werde’ (‘become’) with ‘Erde’ (‘earth’) – makes the point here that the cultural life of symbolism is, in this world at least, wholly dependent on the meaningful manipulation of some sort of physical medium, [
] [namely] the corporality of the German language. (Ibid.: 317)
Reutter’s musical correlative in “Selige Sehnsucht”, it seems to me, embodies precisely this west-eastern playfulness and linguistic corporality in the last stanza of this A-B-A setting. The three-part lied form dictates a return to the musical texture of the first stanza, namely the A-section, which contrasts markedly to the gentler contours of the intermediate B-section underlying stanzas II-IV, as we can see in music examples 1c and 1d where the difference between these sections is most visible in the quiet and lyrical piano part beginning at measure 21 in music example 1c (above). Music example 1c poignantly shows the gently seductive and staggered entries of the soprano’s melismatic anticipations and the baritone’s more measured evocations of nocturnal love (in mm. 23-25).
By revealing contrast, example 1d underscores the almost metric simultaneity of both voices as they triumphantly declaim their mystically experienced physical union in “höherer Begattung” (inadequately translated as ‘higher mating’) [mm. 37-38]:
Example 7 [1d] (mm. 37-40):
Moreover, measures 38-40 demonstrate another perceptive musico-poetic feature on Reutter’s part: the subtle (quasi-but-varied) ‘imitative’ staggering of soprano-followed-by-baritone vocal passage underlying “kommst geflogen und gebannt” provides precisely the ‘flitting to and fro’ ambience created by the seductive butterfly so fatally spellbound by the gleaming candle even as it enraptures the observant lover. And the almost enharmonic change to a remote key at measure 39 helps to highlight the ‘distance’ (“Ferne”) from mundane reality (“verbrannt” [line 16]) and back again at measures 42-43 [example 8=1e] which this symbolic dying (“Stirb” [line 18]) actually signifies.
As already stated above, music example 1e contains the entire repeat of section A:
Example 8 [1e] (mm.42-66):
The vocal declamation of both “werde” (in measures 53-54) and “Erde” (in measure 61) is particularly noteworthy. In contrast to the voice line in comparable measures (11-12 and 19) of the first stanza, here Reutter makes his empathetic commitment to playful becoming and sensual earthiness (both via explicit sexuality) abundantly manifest: not only are the intervallic values of these concepts altered in the baritone’s primary line, but the quasi-canonic ornamentation of the soprano line’s accompanying melismas are subtly shifted to project the irresistible allure of light and sensuality rather than merely to reiterate, parrot-like, the textual declamations of the poet’s baritone persona as was the case for stanza I.
“In tausend Formen” is another setting in which Reutter’s musical sensitivity to the fascinating corporality or palpable physicality of Goethe’s finest poetic inspirations is particularly audible and visible in the ubiquitous measure-by-measure alternation of oriental and medieval sounding recitative motifs (first in the piano part, then in the voice line), the middle-eastern quality of which resembles the ‘Song of India’ melodic tropes in Rimsky-Korsakoff’s music for the legend “Sadko” and perhaps even more so the sinuous musical seductiveness of his “Scheherazade”. But more than this: in his seemingly ageless and consistently alternating quasi-liturgical chanting texture, Reutter brilliantly creates a musical equivalent of the essential Arabic poetic ghazel form, which Goethe has imitated in his twelve deliberately repetitious-yet-varied couplets by ingeniously combining idiosyncratic noun compounds (derived from extended adjectival or participial modifiers) with the recurring prefix All- (in clear homage to the Islamic God Allah who is paradoxically nameless while blessed with at least one hundred names!). A more ingenious and playful cross-cultural aesthetic amalgamation on Goethe’s part is hard to imagine. But that Reutter, in his consistent alternation of one-measure piano and vocal recitative-segments (varied only by several triadic and fanfare-like piano outbursts in m. 11, m. 13, m. 19, and m. 21), has been able to project this highly sophisticated poetic achievement with comparable musical means, where the initially ‘soliloquizing’ (i. e., without any vocal text) piano motif can be seen as the musical equivalent of the unchanging prefix All- and the texted vocal chant can likewise be seen as the musical vehicle embodying Goethe’s ever-changing names, is a remarkable achievement in recent literary-musical interpretation and lied composition.
Finally, the climactic closing measures of “Unbegrenzt” (in E-flat!) where the final word of the final line (“[
] was zu Ende bleibt und Anfangs war”) is given monumental projection, also reflect keen insight on the composer’s part in so far as the musical structure could here be said to merge Nietzsche’s central conception of ‘eternal recurrence’ with the essence of Hafiz’s most crucial influence on Goethe, which the English Germanist James Boyd summarized as follows: “[
] it was at once Hafiz’s fate and his virtue to produce poems that have no real beginning or end, eternally revolving like a constellations of stars around their own axis so that beginning, middle, and end are all one and the same.” (1949: 183) In all of these settings, but particularly in Reutter’s “Blessed Longing”, as the programmatic initial setting that radiates thematic motifs and gestures that reverberate in the ensuing five settings, the composer has manifestly been able to shape salient elements of Goethe’s encyclopedic poetic macro-cycle into a performable micro-art-song-cycle that not only rivals the literary-musical Liederkreis-creations of Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, and Wolf, but arguably ‘interprets’ Goethe’s Divan with carefully calibrated juxtapositions and sequences of both poetic and musical elements that presciently highlight the most contemporary insights of innovative aesthetic criticism in both fields.
Bauni, Axel. “Hermann Reutters Liedschaffen zwischen Spätromantik und Moderne”. Hermann Reutter: Lieder. München: ORFEO CD, 2002.
Bernhart, Walter, Steven Paul Scher, Werner Wolf, eds. Word and Music Studies: Defining the Field. Proceedings of the First International Conference on Word and Music Studies at Graz, 1997. Word and Music Studies 1. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1999.
Bishop, Paul, R. H. Stephenson. “Goethe’s Late Verse”. Dennis F. Mahoney, ed. The Literature of German Romanticism. Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2004. 307-326.
Boyd, James. Notes to Goethe’s Poems: “Unbegrenzt”. Vol. 2. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1949. 183-185.
Fritz, Walter Helmut. “Der West-östliche Divan – gedichtete Liebe”. Goethe-Jahrbuch 97 (1980): 65-81.
Hass, Hans-Egon. “über die strukturelle Einheit des West-östlichen Divan”. Stil- und Formprobleme in der Literatur: Vorträge des VII. Kongresses der Internationalen Vereinigung für moderne Sprachen und Literaturen in Heidelberg. Paul Böckmann, ed. Heidelberg: C. Winter, 1959. 309-318.
Hillmann, Ingeborg. Dichtung als Gegenstand der Dichtung. Bonn: Bouvier, 1965.
Ihekweazu, Edith. Goethes West-östlicher Divan: Untersuchungen zur Struktur des lyrischen Zyklus. Hamburg: Hartmut Lüdke, 1971.
Lindlar, Heinrich. Ed. Hermann Reutter: Werk und Wirken. Festschrift der Freunde. Mainz: B. Schott’s Söhne, 1965.
Lodato, Suzanne M. ”Recent Approaches to Text/Music Analysis in the Lied. A Musicological Perspective”. Bernhart et al., eds. 95-112.
—. “False Assumptions: Richard Strauss’s Lieder and Text/Music Analysis”. Suzanne M. Lodato, David Francis Urrows, eds. Word and Music Studies: Essays on Music and the Spoken Word and on Surveying the Field. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2005. 103-124.
Lohner, Edgar, ed. Studien zum West-östlichen Divan Goethes. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1971.
—. Interpretationen zum West-östlichen Divan Goethes. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1973.
Mommsen, Katharina. “West-östlicher Divan und Chinesisch-deutsche Jahres- und Tageszeiten”. Goethe-Jahrbuch 108 (1991): 169-178.
Mustard, Helen. The Lyric Cycle in German Literature. Columbia Univ. Germanic Studies 17. New York, NY: King’s Crown Press, 1946.
Reitmeyer, Elisabeth. Studien zum Problem der Gedichtsammlung mit eingehender Untersuchung der Gedichtsammlungen Goethes und Tiecks. Sprache und Dichtung 57. Bern: Paul Haupt, 1935.
Reutter, Hermann. Sechs Gedichte aus J. W. von Goethe Westöstlicher Diwan für Sopran und Bariton mit Klavier. Opus 73. Edition Schott 4118. Mainz: B. Schott’s Söhne, 1951.
Trunz, Erich, ed. Goethe: Gedichte II. Frankfurt a. M.: Fischer, 1964.
Wagner, Irmgard. Goethe. New York, NY: Twayne Publishers, 1999.
Goethe’s Divan-poems (excerpted in Reutter’s published order and translated by John Whaley)
Sagt es niemand, nur den Weisen,
Weil die Menge gleich verhöhnet,
Das Lebend’ge will ich preisen,
Das nach Flammentod sich sehnet.
In der Liebesnächte Kühlung,
Die dich zeugte, wo du zeugtest,
überfällt dich fremde Fühlung
Wenn die stille Kerze leuchtet.
Nicht mehr bleibest du umfangen
In der Finsternis Beschattung,
Und dich reißet neu Verlangen
Auf zu höherer Begattung.
Keine Ferne macht dich schwierig,
Kommst geflogen und gebannt,
Und zuletzt, des Lichts begierig,
Bist du Schmetterling verbrannt.
Und solang du das nicht hast,
Dieses: Stirb und werde!
Bist du nur ein trüber Gast
Auf der dunklen Erde.
Tell it no one, only sages,
For the crowd derides such learning,
Life I seek through all the ages
Which for death in flames is yearning.
Cooled in love-nights’ animation,
Which begat you, where you mated,
You are seized by strange sensation,
By still candlelight elated.
No more are you held in capture
Darkly over-shadowed waiting,
You anew are torn by rapture
Upwards to a higher mating.
From no weight of distance tiring
You’re in spellbound flight held fast,
And you are, the light desiring,
Moth, in fire consumed at last.
And till you can meet this test:
Die, renew your being!
You are just a dismal guest
In earth’s dark unseeing.
Bei Mondenschein im Paradeis
Fand Jehova im Schlafe tief
Adam versunken, legte leis’
Zur Seit’ ein Evchen, das auch entschlief.
Da lagen nun, in Erdeschranken,
Gottes zwei lieblichste Gedanken.
“Gut!!!” rief er sich zum Meisterlohn,
Er ging sogar nicht gern davon.
Kein Wunder, daß es uns berückt,
Wenn Auge frisch in Auge blickt,
Als hätten wir’s so weit gebracht
Bei dem zu sein der uns gedacht.
Und ruft er uns, wohlan, es sei!
Nur, das beding’ ich, alle zwei.
Dich halten dieser Arme Schranken,
Liebster von allen Gottesgedanken.
In moonlit Paradise one day
Jehova came upon Adam, deep
Sunk in slumber; whilst he lay
God put Eve beside him, she too fell asleep.
So now there lay in earth’s tie bounded
The two sweetest thoughts by God propounded. –
“Good” He exclaimed to praise His art,
From them He did not like to part.
No wonder that we are entranced
When eye so fresh in eye has glanced,
As if we had at last achieved
To be with Him who us conceived.
And if He calls, so let it be!
But, on condition, you and me.
You I’ll keep in these arms surrounded,
Thought the most dear which God has propounded.
So umgab sie nun der Winter
Mit gewalt’gem Grimme. [
Thus with powerful anger winter
Held them now surrounded. [
[The remaining 31 lines of text were set by Reutter, but have been omitted here
Woher ich kam? Es ist noch eine Frage,
Mein Weg hierher, der ist mir kaum bewußt,
Heut nun und hier am himmelfrohen Tage
Begegnen sich, wie Freunde, Schmerz und Lust.
O süßes Glück, wenn beide sich vereinen!
Einsam, wer möchte lachen, möchte weinen?
From whence I came? Indeed I cannot say,
The way I came I hardly comprehend,
But here and now on this sky-gladdened day
Delight encounters pain like meeting friend
O sweetest joy, when both together lie!
Alone, who then would laugh, who then would cry?
In tausend Formen magst du dich verstecken,
Doch, Allerliebste, gleich erkenn’ ich dich;
Du magst mit Zauberschleiern dich bedecken,
Allgegenwärtige, gleich erkenn’ ich dich.
An der Zypresse reinstem, jungem Streben,
Allschöngewachsene, gleich erkenn’ ich dich;
In des Kanales reinem Wellenleben,
Allschmeichelhafte, wohl erkenn’ ich dich.
Wenn steigend sich der Wasserstrahl entfaltet
Allspielende, wie froh erkenn’ ich dich;
Wenn Wolke sich gestaltend umgestaltet,
Allmannigfaltige, dort erkenn’ ich dich.
An des geblümten Schleiers Wiesenteppich,
Allbuntbesternte, schön erkenn’ ich dich;
Und greift umher ein tausendarm’ger Eppich,
O Allumklammernde, da kenn’ ich dich.
Wenn am Gebirg der Morgen sich entzündet,
Gleich, Allerheiternde, begrüß’ ich dich,
Dann über mir der Himmel rein sich ründet,
Allherzerweiternde, dann atm’ich dich.
Was ich mit äußerm Sinn, mit innerm kenne,
Du Allbelehrende, kenn’ ich durch dich;
Und wenn ich Allahs Namenhundert nenne,
Mit jedem klingt ein Name nach für dich.
A thousand forms to hide in you discover
Yet, All-beloved, I at once see you;
To dress in magic veils is yet another,
All-present-being, I at once see you.
When cypress thrusts with youth’s pure tremulation,
All-beauty formed, there I at once see you;
And in canal’s pure living undulation
All-pleasing-softly, I full well see you.
When soaring fountain waters are ascending,
All-playful-one, how joyful I see you;
When cloud its moving form mutates unending,
All-manifold-one, there too I see you.
On veil as meadow lawn with flowers spangled,
All-starlight-sparkling, I see lovely you;
In ivy’s thousand clasping arms entangled,
O All-embracing-one, there I see you.
And when on mountains morning strikes and blazes,
Then, All-things-brightening, I at once greet you;
Above me sky its vault pure rounding raises,
All-heart-expanding-one, then I breathe you.
From outward sense and inner sense rewarded,
You All-instructing, I know all through you;
Whenever Allah’s Hundred Names I’ve lauded
With every name there echoes one for you.
Daß du nicht enden kannst, das macht dich groß,
Und daß du nie beginnst, das ist dein Los.
Dein Lied ist drehend wie das Sterngewölbe,
Anfang und Ende immerfort dasselbe,
Und was die Mitte bringt, ist offenbar
Das was zu Ende bleibt und Anfangs war.
That you can never end, that makes you great,
That you cannot begin, that is your fate.
Your song revolves as vaulted constellations,
End and beginning are re-iterations,
The import of the middle clear akin
To that which ends and as it did begin.
[Reutter omitted the last 14 lines of his poem in his concluding setting.]
Elfenstraße 107, Tel. 71 15 97
[4. März 1967]
Harry E. Seelig
1616 Louisiana Street
Lawrence, Kansas 66044/USA
Sehr geehrter Herr Seelig,
ich stehe gerade vor dem Aufbruch zu meiner 7. Amerikatournee, möchte aber doch Ihre verschiedenen Fragen vorher beantworten.
Meine Divangedichte sind ein Kompositionsauftrag, den mir der Südwestfunk Baden-Baden 1949 anläßlich der damaligen Goethefeiern erteilte. Dort war auch die erste Aufnahme bzw. Ursendung. Doch ist es leider nicht möglich, von den Sendern Bandkopien zu erhalten. [
Zeitgenössische Divanvertonungen sind auch mir – außer Dallapiccola – nicht bekannt. Für die von mir getroffene Gedichtwahl kann ich keinen logischen Grund angeben. “Gefühlsmäßig” scheinen mir die einzelnen Nummern gut zusammen zu passen, auch von kontrastierender Wirkung her, worauf es mir immer ankommt. Auch finden Sie die verschiedenartigsten vokalen Möglichkeiten angewandt: dramatisches und arioses Rezitativ, 2- und 3-teilige, sowie rondoartige Liedform, tonale, poly- und atonale Harmonik, homophonen und polyphonen Stil.
Alles Gute und herzliche Grüße Ihr H. Reutter
I am about to set off on my 7th tour of America, but would nevertheless like to answer your various questions beforehand.
My Divan poems are a composition commissioned by the Southwest Radio Baden-Baden in 1949 on the occasion of the Goethe Celebrations during that centennial year. The premier performance and broadcast took place there as well. Regrettably it is not possible to obtain tape recordings from the broadcasters.
Contemporary Divan song settings – except for those of Dallapiccola – are unknown to me as well. Nor can I provide any logical reason for my choice of poems. “Emotionally” the individual numbers seem to fit together well, also in terms of contrasting effect, which is always a consideration of mine. You will also find the most diverse vocal possibilities applied: dramatic and arioso-like recitative, two-part and three-part as well as rondo-style lied form; tonal, polytonal, and atonal harmony, homophonic and polyphonic style.
Yours most sincerely,
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