Ludwig van Beethoven – Song Cycle “An die Fern Geliebte (To the Distant Beloved) , Op. 98 7/3/20

July 3, 2020

I have been practicing Robert Schumann’s Fantasy Op. 17. I have so many things I want to say about this great piece, and will write it in a separate blog. Schumann uses quote from Beethoven’s “To the Distant Beloved” song cycle in his Fantasy. The quote comes from the 6th song which is very touching and moving. Beethoven wrote his famous “Immortal Beloved Letter” in 1812, and this song cycle was written in 1816. His feelings continue from the letter to this song cycle. The letter is very beautiful, truthful, and so personal. But for this song cycle, Beethoven asked Alois Isidor Jeitteles, a doctor, to write a text. The text is beautifully written, as if Jeitteles knew the existence of “Immortal Beloved Letter”. Each song takes us to the scenes Beethoven was imagining in his head.

“An die Fern Geliebte” is known to be one of the first example of a song cycle. Franz Schubert and Robert Schumann followed Beethoven’s step to write their own. I listen Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Gerald Moore.

“An die Fern Geliebte” text by Alois Isidor Jeitteles
1. On the hill sit I, peering
On the hill sit I, peering
Into the blue, hazy land,
Toward the far away pastures
Where I you, beloved, found.

Far am I, from you, parted,
Separating us are hill and valley
Between us and our peace,
Our happiness and our sorrow.

Ah! The look can you not see,
That to you so ardently rushes,
And the sighs, they blow away
In the space that separates us.

Will then nothing more be able to reach you,
Nothing be messenger of love?
I will sing, sing songs,
That to you speak of my pain!

For before the sound of love escapes
every space and every time,
And a loving heart reaches,
What a loving heart has consecrated!

2. Where the mountains so blue
Where the mountains so blue
Out of the foggy gray
Look down,
Where the sun dies,
Where the cloud encircles,
I wish I were there!

There is the restful valley
Stilled are suffering and sorrow
Where in the rock
Quietly the primrose meditates,
Blows so lightly the wind,
I wish I were there!

There to the thoughtful wood
The power of love pushes me,
Inward sorrow,
Ah! This moves me not from here,
Could I, dear, by you
Eternally be!

3. Light veils in the heights
Light veils in the heights,
And you, little brook, small and narrow,
Should my love spot you,
Greet her, from me, many thousand times.

See you, clouds, her go then,
Meditating in the quiet valley,
Let my image stand before her
In the airy heavenly hall.

If she near the bushes stands,
Now that autumn is faded and leafless,
Lament to her, what has happened to me,
Lament to her, little birds, my suffering!

Quiet west, bring in the wind
To my heart’s chosen one
My sighs, that pass
As the last ray of the sun.

Whisper to her of my love’s imploring,
Let her, little brook, small and narrow,
Truly, in your waves see
My tears without numbers!

4. These clouds in the heights
These clouds in the heights,
These birds gaily passing,
Will see you, my beloved.
Take me with you on your light flight!

These west winds will play
Joking with you about your cheek and breast,
In the silky curls will dig.
I share with you this pleasure!

There to you from this hill
Busily, the little brook hurries.
If your image is reflected in it,
Flow back without delay!

5. May returns, the meadow blooms
May returns, the meadow blooms,
The breezes they blow so softly, so mildly,
Chattering, the brooks now run.

The swallow, that returns to her hospitable roof,
She builds, so busily, her bridal chamber,
Love must dwell there.

She brings, so busily, from all directions,
Many soft pieces for the bridal bed,
Many warm pieces for the little ones.

Now live the couple together so faithfully,
What winter has separated is united by May,
What loves, that he knows how to unite.

May returns, the meadow blooms,
The breezes they blow so softly, so mildly,
Only I cannot go away from here.

When all that loves, the spring unites,
Only to our love no spring appears,
And tears are our only consolation.

6. Take, then, these songs
Take, then, these songs,
That I to you, beloved, sang,
Sing them again in the evenings
To the sweet sounds of the lute!

When the red twilight then moves
toward the calm, blue lake,
And the last ray dies
behind that hilltop;

And you sing, what I have sung,
What I, from my full heart,
Artlessly have sounded,
Only aware of its longings.

For before these songs yields,
What separates us so far,
And a loving heart reaches

For what a loving heart has consecrated.