Brahms – Schicksalslied, for Chorus and Orchestra, Op. 54 (1871)

by Max Derrickson

Johannes Brahms   (b May 7, 1833 in Hamburg; d April 3, 1897 in Vienna)

Schicksalslied, for Chorus and Orchestra, Op. 54 (1871)
Schicksalslied (Song of Fate) was composed in 1871 and sets the text of a [. . .] great, though perhaps less recognized, German poet Holderlin.   The text comes from Holderlin’s life’s achievement, the novel Hyperion, or The Hermit in Greece.  Afterwards the poet drifted into insanity.  [. . .], Brahms chooses a poem which pits the sufferings of Man against the supposed happy bliss of the Gods in their eternal play.  Brahms’ treatment of it, however, seems to translate a greater meaning and message to Holderlin’s, and this by returning to segments of bliss in the poem after the fiery trials of Man are enumerated.  [. . .]

Schicksalslied (Song of Fate), Holderlin Translated: Karl W. Maurer

You walk on high in the Light
Over soft ground, you blessed spirits!
Bright numinous airs
Lightly caress you,
As the musician’s fingers
Stir holy strings.

[. . .]