Songs of Sorrow

Programme Note

Schubert’s Die Schöne Mullerin tells the tale of a young miller who falls in love with the maid of the mill. When the miller is rejected by the maid in favour of a hunter he drowns himself in the brook. Schubert’s setting of 20 poems by Wilhelm Müller is a piece of defining importance in the early history of the song cycle, and is a piece that has always fascinated me.

Songs of Sorrow sets a selection of the poems Schubert set – as well as three that he didn’t – and significantly reshapes the narrative. References to the day-to-day life of the mill are largely omitted, as are references to other characters, including even the hunter. The intention of this abstraction is to intensify the miller’s internal psychological drama. (The maid is famously almost entirely absent from Die Schöne Mullerin, and in Songs of Sorrow she again appears very frequently in the miller’s thoughts but only rarely in person.)

Die Schöne Mullerin is but one manifestation of the story of the miller maid and her suitors, a story which has been told and retold in the German-speaking world over centuries. Songs of Sorrow is intended as a modest contribution to that tradition.

Year: 2021
Duration: 26′
Instrumentation: Bartione, Piano

Part 1
I – Wohin?
II – Danksagung an den Bach
III – Der Neugierige
IV – Das Mühlenleben

Part 2
V – Ungeduld
VI – Morgengruß
VII – Tränenregen
VIII – Pause

Part 3
IX – Erster Schmerz, letzter Scherz
X – Blümlein Vergißmein
XI – Trock’ne Blumen
XII – Der Müller und der Bach