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Dialogue of Cultures

Franz Schubert

Elevating the Irony and Metaphor
of Folk Poetry

The Schöne Müllerin
and the

This article is reprinted from the Fall 1995 issue of FIDELIO Magazine.

For related articles, scroll down or click here.

Fidelio, Vol. IV ,No, 3. Fall 1995


Elevating the Irony and Metaphor of Folk Poetry

The Schöne Müllerin and the Mathematical-Sublime

In the last days of his life, Ludwig van Beethoven absorbed himself in, among other things, some sixty songs and lieder by Franz Schubert. He was unable to tear himself away from the lieder, and often lingered over them for hours. He was surprised by the great number of lieder, and expressed “the utmost wonder” at their content. Among these was Schubert's song cycle Die Schöne Müllerin (The Beautiful Miller's Daughter).1

What actually is the content of Schubert's lieder, that “thought-object”2 which had the power to astonish even Beethoven? In order to answer this question, we will investigate Schubert's Schöne Müllerin somewhat closely. We will look first at the poet Wilhelm Müller, whose poems Schubert used for this song cycle, and at Müller's influence on the poet Heinrich Heine. Next we will show how the original material of the Schöne Müllerin arose, and the significance J.W. Goethe and Friedrich Schiller attributed to it. After a short detour through the “Mathematical-Sublime,” we will take up the song cycle itself.

Folksongs: Simplicity and Elevation

The poet and writer Wilhelm Müller published his Die Schöne Müllerin in 1820,3 consisting of twenty-three poems, a prologue, and an epilogue, in the first volume of his Siebenundsiebzig Gedichte aus den hinterlassenen Papieren eines reisenden Waldhornist (Sixty-Seven Poems from the Papers Left Behind by a Travelling Hunting-Horn Player). In 1824, the second volume appeared, containing the Winterreise (Winter Journey) poems. Müller took as the model for his poetry the “most beautiful German folksongs,” and his essential criteria were “simplicity of form, singability of meter ..., deep unconscious ardor, which ... reverberates for a long time, and naive unaffectedness in the shy articulation of what is most elevated.”4 He resisted mere imitation of folksongs, as was found in the then-prevalent composition of poems in the so-called “folksong style.”

Beginning in 1812, Müller studied classical philology and history, as well as German and English philology and literature, at the University of Berlin, which had been founded two years earlier by Wilhelm von Humboldt. The then-new field of German linguistic and literary studies was being shaped by Des Knaben Wunderhorn, a collection of folk poems produced by Achim von Arnim and Clemens von Brentano, and by the Grimm Brothers' folk tales and the folksong forms associated with them. Wilhelm Müller, however, first turned to the folksong form during a long stay in Italy. He was made widely popular by his Lieder der Griechen (Songs of the Greeks), published in 1821, in which he not only celebrated the Greek liberation effort, but scourged the political conditions in Germany after the Congress of Vienna; from then on he was dubbed “Müller the Greek.”5

Irony and Metaphor

The poetry for the Schöne Müllerin was sketched out in 1817, when Müller was still a student, at the Berlin salon of Privy Counsellor von Stägemann, whose closest friends included Achim von Arnim, Friedrich de La Motte-Fouqué, and Adalbert von Chamisso. Every week a group of young people swarmed around Hedwig, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the house. Clemens von Brentano, the young painter Wilhelm Hensel, his poetically gifted sister Luise, and Hensel's friend Wilhelm Müller turned up at the salon, and it was there that a proposal for a song cycle stimulated Müller to write what became Die Schöne Müllerin.6

In it, a young man tells a story of the fortune and misfortune he encounters in his wanderings. Stopping to work at a mill, he falls in love with the miller's beautiful but faithless daughter, who gives all the millworkers hope of her affections, but at last chooses a huntsman. Out of sorrow, the young man throws himself into the millstream. To the stream, his companion in his wanderings, which enticed him to the fateful mill, he confides his love and its torment. The stream urges him to overcome his grief, in vain. At the end, the millstream sings to the weary one in his sleep of death.

This sort of tale provoked the ironical powers and biting mockery of a Heinrich Heine, and in fact Heine gave a pointed description of the Stägemann salon's participants in his work Die Romantische Schule (The Romantic School.) Wilhelm Müller himself, however, had a particular, highly personal significance for Heine. In The Romantic School, he writes:

Wilhelm Müller, whom death tore from us in the fullness of his gladdest youth, must also be mentioned here. In the replication of the German folksong he is in complete harmony with Mr. Uhland; it even seems to me that in such realms he is sometimes more successful, and exceeds Uhland in naturalness. He has a deep understanding of the spirit of the old lied forms and finds no need to imitate them in externals; thus we find in him a freer hand with transitions and a wise avoidance of archaic phrases and expressions.7

This is a restrained echo of what Heine had exuberantly emphasized in a letter to Wilhelm Müller himself about Müller's influence on his own Buch der Lieder (Book of Songs):

I am magnanimous enough to openly confess to you that the meter of my little 'Intermezzo'8 does not have a purely accidental resemblance to your accustomed meter, but on the contrary, that it probably owes its most mysterious cadence to your lieder, for it was the delightful song of the miller which I came to know at just the time I was writing the 'Intermezzo.' Very early on, I let the German folksong work its effect on me; later, while I was studying in Bonn, August Schlegel revealed to me a good many metrical secrets, but I believe that I first found in your lieder the pure tone and true simplicity for which I ever strive. How pure, how clear your lieder are, and all of them are folksongs. In my own poems, only the form partakes to some extent of the folksong, the content belongs to conventional society. Yes, I am magnanimous enough even to repeat it without qualification, and you will even find it publicly expressed, that through the reading of your seventy-seven poems it first became clear to me how it is possible to shape new forms out of the old folksong forms at hand, which are also folk forms, without having to imitate the old awkwardness and clumsiness of the language.9

Müller produced the “pure tone” and “true simplicity” of the folksong, without its clumsiness, while using the old German metrical principle.10 Here the number of of unstressed syllables before the first stressed syllable, and inbetween stressed syllables, is free; the line can begin and end with a stress, or not, as in the poem “Tränenregen” (“Rain of Tears”):

We sat together so closely
In the cool shelter of the alders,
We gazed so closely together
Into the rippling brook.

Heine was stimulated by the content of Müller's poems as well as their form. For example, he took the motif of flowers springing from the beloved's tears from Müller's poem “Tränen und Rosen” (“Tears and Roses”).11 And Heine's poem “Auf den Wällen Salamankas” (“Atop the Walls of Salamanca”)12 draws directly upon Müller's Schöne Müllerin and Winterreise. The most important thing for Heine, however, was Wilhelm Müller's ability to pose poetic paradoxes, and to thus produce genuine irony and true metaphor. Müller's poem “Tränenregen” directly anticipated Heine's poetic goals.

Wir saßen so traulich zusammen
Im kühlen Erlendach,
Wir schauten so traulich zusammen
Hinab in den rieselnden Bach.

Der Mond war auch gekommen,
Die Sternlein hinterdrein,
Und schauten so traulich zusammen
In den silbernen Spiegel hinein.

Ich sah nach keinem Monde
Nach keinem Sternenschein,
Ich schaute nach ihrem Bilde,
Nach ihren Augen allein.

Und sahe sie nicken und blicken,
Herauf aus dem seligen Bach,
Die Blümlein am Ufer, die blauen,
Sie nicken und blicken ihr nach.

Und in den Bach versunken
Der ganze Himmel schien,
Und wollte mich mit hinunter
In seine Tiefe ziehn.

Und über den Wolken und Sternen
Da rieselte munter der Bach,
Und reif mit Singen und Klingen:
Geselle, Geselle, mir nach.

Da gingen die Augen mir über,
Da ward es im Spiegel so kraus;
Sie sprach: es kommt ein Regen,
Ade! ich geh nach Haus.

We sat together so closely
In the cool shelter of the alders,
We gazed so closely together
Into the rippling brook.

The moon came up,
Then the stars appeared,
And we gazed so closely together
Into the silver mirror.

I looked at no moon,
At no starlight,
I gazed only at her image,
At her eyes alone.

And saw them nod and glance,
Out of the blessed brook,
The little flowers on the bank, the blue ones,
They nodded and glanced at her.

And the whole sky
Seemed to be fallen into the brook,
And wanted to draw me down with it
Into its depths.

And over the clouds and the stars
The brook gaily rippled,
And called with singing and ringing,
Comrade, comrade, follow after me.

My eyes brimmed over,
The mirror became puckered,
She spoke: It's beginning to rain,
Goodbye, I am going home.

The theme of the Schöne Müllerin, unrequited love, certainly had a special fascination for Heine, as well. It is the main theme of his Buch der Lieder.13

At the time the Schöne Müllerin appeared, Giovanni Paisiello's light opera La Molinara (Naples, 1788), which was produced in German under the title Die Schöne Müllerin, was very popular. But while the opera concludes with the marriage of the heroine, Wilhelm Müller gave his song cycle a tragic ending. This was in the spirit of the folk poetry, also very popular at the time, which expressed the Schöne Müllerin theme, for example, in the poems “Das fahrende Fräulein” (“Young Lady on a Journey”) and “Müllers Abschied” (“Miller's Farewell”)14 from Des Knaben Wunderhorn, poems which influenced Heine's “Da droben auf jenem Berge” (“Up There on That Mountain”)15 and Eichendorff's “Das zerbrochene Ringlein” (“The Broken Ring”).16

Goethe as well had come upon the subject-matter of the Schöne Müllerin, through his travels and his absorption in older folk poetry. During his journey through Switzerland in 1797, the mills and their millwheels, and the manifold movements of the water, made an extraordinary impression upon him. He wrote four poems “in honor of the miller's beautiful daughter”: “Der Edelknabe und die Müllerin” (“The Young Nobleman and the Miller's Daughter”), “Der Junggesell und der Mühlbach” (“The Young Millworker and the Millstream”), “Der Müllerin Reue” (“The Miller's Daughter's Regret”), and later, “Der Müllerin Verrat” (“The Miller's Daughter Betrayed”). He also considered whether the subject might be suited to an operetta.

From Switzerland, Goethe wrote to Schiller:

After all this ... I must tell you that en route I have hit upon a poetic genre which we must make more of in the future, and which perhaps will do well for the next Almanach. It is dialogue in the form of lieder. In a certain past period of German history we have greatly pleasing cases of this kind, and much can be said by means of this form—only one must first penetrate it and extract from this type what is peculiar to it. In this vein I have begun a dialogue between the millstream and a lad who is in love with a miller's daughter, and hope to send it soon. The poetic-tropic-allegoric mode will come alive through this kind of change ... .17

Along with his letter, Goethe sent to Schiller the poems “Der Edelknabe und die Müllerin” and “Der Junggesell und der Mühlbach.”18 Schiller replied:

The song [“Der Edelknabe und die Müllerin”] is full of serene moods and full of Nature. It strikes me that this genre is necessarily very favorable for the poet, throwing aside as it does all burdensome appendages, introductions, transitions, descriptions, etc., and allowing him to skim off with a light hand only what is rich and significant in his subject-matter. Thus, here again would be the point of departure of a new array of poems, the beginning of an 'infinite series,' for this poem, like any good poetry, has a whole generation of poems within itself, through the state of mind it gives, and the form it establishes.19

The Mathematical-Sublime

Schiller's concept of the “infinite series” of a whole species arose while he was occupied with “the estimation of aesthetic magnitude” as part of his work on his theory of beauty. The essays in his Zerstreute Betrachtungen über verschiedene Aesthetische Gegenstände (“Scattered Reflections on Various Aesthetic Subjects”) dealt with the aesthetic effect of the sublime, especially the “Mathematical-Sublime.”20

Schiller calls an object sublime, when it threatens to exceed our sensuous capacity to grasp it or resist it, without completely defeating our efforts at cognition or resistance, so that our mind is able to sustain its own self-subsisting power and dignity at a higher level. There are two types of the sublime, the sublime of cognition and the sublime of force. The sublime of cognition is based on number or magnitude, and can thus be called the Mathematical-Sublime as well.

Schiller differentiates four mathematical magnitudes: (1) a magnitude which he calls a quantum; (2) a magnitude which he calls a magnum; (3) a magnitude which is both a quantum and a magnum; and (4) the Absolute.21

A quantum is a unity, in which several qualitatively similar parts are combined. Everything possessing parts is a quantum. The difference in magnitude between one quantum and another consists simply in one having more parts than the other. In contrast, a quantum that contains another quantum as a part of itself, is a magnum. Measuring or counting is accordingly nothing more than investigating how often a certain quantum is contained in another. Thus, measurement always depends upon the unit taken as a metric, i.e., all magnitude is a relational concept. Vis-à-vis the metric used to measure it, every magnitude is a magnum. However, if we take the metric of the metric, the latter metric is once more a magnum, and so there can be an endless progression downwards into the small, but also upwards into the large. Every magnum is small as soon as we think of it as contained in another, and the question becomes whether there exists a limit, since we can take any number series, no matter how large, and multiply it by itself, making it even larger.

Schiller counterposes this endless progression into the small and large to the Absolute, and says that by means of measurement, we can indeed arrive at the comparative but never the absolute magnitude, namely, the magnitude which can no longer be contained in any quantum, but contains and subsumes all other magnitudes. This magnitude, according to Schiller, can only be the Infinite of Nature itself, which can never be grasped in terms of space and time.

Schiller then counterposes the quantum/magnum, on the one hand, and the Absolute, on the other, to a magnitude which he calls a quantum that is at the same time a magnum. Four different characterizations of the size of a tower help to make this clearer. The tower is a magnitude; the tower is 200 ells high; the tower is high; the tower is a higher (more sublime) object. In the first two judgments, the tower is simply considered as a quantum (something possessing size); in the second two, it is considered as a magnum (something big).

Since by means of numerical measurement, the realm of numbers is inexhaustible, Schiller says that the mind itself must establish some sort of unit as the highest and outermost, or limiting, measure. The mind does this when I say, this tower is high, without determining its height. I give no metric for comparison and yet I cannot ascribe to the tower absolute magnitude, for nothing prevents me from supposing a higher tower. This metric lies in the concept of the tower itself, and is nothing other than the concept of its species-magnitude. The concept of the tower thus represents a quantum which is at the same time a magnum. It is simultaneously indeterminate (not a definite quantum) and determinate; because I have determined it as a species vis-à-vis other species, it is the type of the tower.

Schiller thus shows that such a type serves to externally limit an infinite series, and thus represents a higher species. He now attempts to describe the generative principle underlying such a type, that is, he looks for the method by which I generate a metric with which I can measure a magnitude:

Since nothing can compel our mind to halt its activity [of measurement], it must be the power of imagination which sets a limit for that activity. In other words: The estimation of magnitude must cease to be logical, it must be achieved aesthetically. The entire form of this activity must thus transform itself.22

The new form of activity is no longer the successive apprehension of a part (a definite quantum) after another, but simultaneous comprehension of all parts in pure self- consciousness. This is not merely a matter of combining the parts by means of a concept, but, on the contrary, generating the One from the Many. Schiller describes this process:

I link A to B, and B to C, and so forth, and while I watch my activity, as it were, I say to myself: in A, as well as in B and in C, I am the acting subject ... . I recognize the identity of my “I” in the series as a whole.”23

This self-consciously acting, transforming I thus represents a higher, creative level of thought. In relation to the Mathematical-Sublime, Schiller comes to the following conclusion:

If I estimate a magnitude in a logical fashion, I always relate it to my cognitive faculty; if I estimate it aesthetically, I relate it to my faculty of sensibility. In the first case, I experience something about the object; in the second case, I only experience something within me, caused by the object. In the first case, I behold something outside myself, in the second, something within me. Thus, in reality, I am no longer measuring, I am no longer estimating magnitude, rather I myself momentarily become a magnitude to myself, and indeed an infinite one. The object which causes me to become an infinite magnitude to myself, is called sublime.24

The Mathematical-Sublime must be an objective characteristic of that which uplifts us, and Schiller accordingly demands of a true work of art (1) that it show a unity, thus summoning me to grasp it as a whole, and (2) that it not be graspable by my senses, but exceed my highest sensuous metric. An art work is only a work of art, then, if it compels me to grasp it, not empirically or logically, but creatively, that is, when my attention is directed to what Schiller calls “the power to bring forth.”

Theme and Variation

William Müller was delighted by the numerous musical settings of his poems, since he viewed himself primarily as a poet of lieder. As early as 1815 he noted in his diary, “I can neither play an instrument nor sing, yet I sing, and play too. If I were able to provide the melodies, my lieder would be more pleasing than they are now. But hopefully, a like-minded soul can be found who can espy the melodies in the words and give them back to me.”25 Franz Schubert was this like-minded soul, and Müller's poems precisely met Schubert's desire for musical poems in which “immediately, something clever” entered his head. It was Schubert's compositions, ennobling the poems with his music, which saved Müller's poems from fading away.

Schubert set twenty poems from the Schöne Müllerin, dispensing with the prologue, epilogue, and three of the poems, and thereby putting aside Müller's faint undertones of ironic distance; for Schubert did not handle the tragic events in the poems at arm's length, but took them seriously. In his most characteristic way, he transformed each poem in the cycle by means of vocalization, registration, counterpoint,26 and use of the Motivfuehrung principle,27 into a classical lied.

At the time he was working on the Schöne Müllerin, Schubert was also composing string quartets and an octet. For the octet, he drew on the “obbligato accompaniment” (from a compositional standpoint) of the 1820 Beethoven septet,28 in which voices were arranged independently as an obbligato, but at the same time brought into the composition as a whole through the working out of the motif. This was also how Schubert handled the singing voice, which remained an upper voice. If we compare Schubert's melodic line in “Das Wandern” (“Wandering”), the first song in the cycle, with the well-known folk poem of the same name by Zöllner, it becomes clear that Schubert's melody, in contrast to Zöllner's, cannot exist by itself, but is an integral element of the whole [ Figure 1].

While Zöllner “correctly” sets the word Wandern (long-short syllables, with a falling tone from the first to the second syllable), Schubert subjects the word to a development, so that not until the end of the strophe does it “fit” in terms of speech and melody. Schubert musically condenses the poem's germinal idea, from prelude to sequel, in four measures. Above the octave figure in the bass, the right-hand piano part plays a sixteenth-note figure, closely related in terms of motif to the voice line. In contrast to Zöllner, whose song mimics the stride of a wanderer, Schubert has not made a “wanderer song” out of the poem; it is impossible to sing his lied while you are hiking. Schubert's “Das Wandern” has a wholly different meaning; it is the driving upbeat for the entire Schöne Müllerin cycle, the starting-point of a journey to a higher level of mind and soul. On this journey, we focus on the central motivic idea, already expressed in “Das Wandern,” which underlies all twenty lieder. Schubert musically varied the setting of each poem, according to its content and mood, by means of key, tempo, dynamics, and so forth, producing a theme with variations29 [ Figure 2, noting the variations in the accompaniment, etc.]. [TYPESETTER: FLAT SYMBOL

The tritone interval, corresponding to the tragic course of events, spans the entire cycle tonally, from the first lied, “Das Wandern,” in B♭ major, to the last, in E major, “Des Baches Wiegenlied” (“The Brook's Lullaby”).

The unified character of the song cycle is not generated through the ongoing repetition of a core motif, but instead through the motif's transformation. This transformation is located between the songs. If, for example, we move in the interval of a sixth from the first song, “Das Wandern,” (Bmajor) to the second, “Wohin?” (“Whither?”) (G major), we see two different, though motivically similar, basic characteristics. The first song's octave movement in the bass is changed to a movement in fifths in the second, the four sixteenth-note figure in the first song is changed to a sextuplet in the second, by means of adding the first interval (rising and falling) from the first song, while the singing voice takes up the initial motif from the melody in the middle of the first song [Figure 3].

This process continues through the final song. The difference in songs is produced in the intervals between the songs; thus we experience this transformation negatively. This process of transformation—not directly communicated, but structured by Schubert in a specific way—is the actual content of the song cycle. It is the One which externally limits the “infinite series” of The Schöne Müllerin as a generative principle; it is thus the “musical thought-object,” metaphorically known as The Schöne Müllerin.30

From the standpoint of the sublime of force, the tragedy in the song cycle causes us to mobilize our spirit of resistance. From the standpoint of the Mathematical-Sublime, the Schöne Müllerin demands of us, that we call forth the One of the song cycle, the generative principle, the “power to bring forth,” which can transport us into “the utmost wonder.”
—Stephan Marienfeld

—translated from the German by Susan Johnson


1. Reported by Beethoven's amanuensis, Anton Schindler. Cf., Paul Mies, Franz Schubert (Leipzig: VEB Breitkopf und Härtel Musikverlag, 1954), p. 61.

2. Cf., Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr., “What Is a Thought-Object?” in “Mozart's 1782-1786 Revolution in Music,” Fidelio, Vol. I, No. 4, Winter 1992.

3. Die Schöne Müllerin, text and poems by Goethe, Brentano, Eichendorff, and Heine, read by Gert Westphal (Hamburg: Literaton, 1991).

4. Wilhelm Müller, Die Winterreise und Andere Gedichte, ed. by Hans-Ruediger Schwab (Frankfurt am Main: Insel-Verlag, 1986).

5. For Wilhelm Müller's life, see Wilhelm Müller, Wilhelm Müller, Rom, Römer und Römerinnen, afterword by Wulf Kirsten (Berlin: Rütten u. Loenig Verlag).

6. Franz Schubert, Die schöne Müllerin, Winterreise, ed. by Arnold Feil (Stuttgart: P. Reclam, 1975), p. 23; English trans. by Ann C. Sherwin (Portland, Or.: Amadeus Press, 1988).

7. Heinrich Heine, Die Romantische Schule, in Werke (Frankfurt am Main: Insel-Verlag, 1968), vol. IV, p. 286. English trans. in Heinrich Heine: The Romantic School and Other Essays, ed. by Jost Hermand and Robert C. Holub (New York: Continuum, 1985).

8. Referred to are the “Lyrische Intermezzo” (“Lyrical Intermezzo”) poems in Heine's Buch der Lieder.

9. Heine sent this letter to Wilhelm Müller along with the just-published first volume of his “Reisebilder” (“Travel Pictures”). The title of the book was originally to have been Wanderbuch, and thus drew directly from Müller's Wanderlieder. Heinrich Heine, Buch der Lieder (Stuttgart: Reclam, 1990), pp. 305-6.

10. Thrasybulos G. Georgiades, Schubert, Musik und Lyrik (Göttingen: Vandenhoek & Ruprecht, 1967).

11. From Müller's Tränen und Rosen:

Du hast ja auch geweint,
Dein' Äuglein sind so saß,
Eine Thrän' fiel aus dem Fenster,
Du wuchs eine Ros' im Gras.

[You have wept, too,
Your dear eyes are so wet,
A tear fell out of the window,
A rose grew there in the grass.]

12. Heinrich Heine, Buch der Lieder, op. cit. see: the Appendix below.

13. Heine's Buch der Lieder was a treasure trove for every composer.

14..Achim von Arnim, Clemens von Brentano, Des Knaben Wunderhorn (Frankfurt am Main: Insel-Verlag, 1974). see: the Appendix below.

15. Heinrich Heine, Buch der Lieder, op. cit. see: the Appendix below.

16. Joseph von Eichendorff, Gedichte (Stuttgart: Reclam, 1957). see: the Appendix below.

17..Goethe to Schiller, August 31, 1797, in Briefwechsel Schiller-Goethe (Frankfurt am Main: Insel-Verlag, 1966) p. 457. English trans. by L. Dora Schmitz, Correspondence Between Schiller and Goether, from 1794 to 1805 (London: G. Bell, 1877-1890).

18. J.W. Goethe, Die Schweizer Reisen (Zurich: Artemis-Verlag, 1979), pp. 189-191. see: the Appendix below.

19. Schiller to Goethe, September 22, 1797, in Briefwechsel, op. cit., pp. 470-1.

20. Friedrich Schiller, in Sämtliche Schriften (Munich: Hanser, 1959), vol. III, p. 543; English trans. as “Of the Aesthetic Esimation of Magnitude,') in Friedrich Schiller: Poet of Freedom, Vol. II (Washington, D.C.: Schiller Institute, 1988), p. 437. Schiller sought to elevate “the art of educating the soul to the rank of a philosophical science.” He developed his theory of Beauty in a dialogue with, and as a refutation of, Immanuel Kant, whose conceptions he applied in many ways, in an altered and expanded sense. (Cf., Kant, “On the Mathematical-Sublime,” in the Critique of Judgment.) “Where I merely demolish something, and operate on the offensive against other theoretical views, I am strictly Kantian; only when I build up something, do I find myself in opposition to Kant,” wrote Schiller. Controverting Kant, Schiller declared that there exists an intelligible and communicable scientific method of creative thinking and thus an objective principle of Beauty. “All enlargement of art must come from the genius; criticism merely leads to absence of error.” Therefore, for Schiller the question was “aesthetic education,” the creation of the cultural prerequisites for the transmission of scientific method and thereby the realization of his concept of the “beautiful soul,” as it appears earlier in Plato.

21. Schiller's anti-Kantian philosophical-mathematical outlook stands in the tradition of the Actual Infinite, which the mathematician Georg Cantor later rediscovered as the transfinite, and made into the basis of his higher mathematics. Cantor's view was that Kant's vague, less differentiated use of the concept of infinity in the section on “Critical Philosophy of the Transcendental” in the Critique of Pure Reason decisively contributed to the discrediting of human reason. “One also notes that since Kant, it has been fashionable among philosophers to hold the false notion that the Absolute is the ideal limit of the finite, while in truth this limit can be conceived of only as a transfinite, and indeed as the minimum of all transfinites (corresponding to the smallest transfinite number, which I call ω.” Georg Cantor, “On Differing Standpoint Toward the Actual Infinite,” in Gesammelte Abhandlungen Mathematischen und Philosophischen Inhalts (Collected Mathematical and Philosophical Writings) (Berlin-Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag, 1980).

22. Friedrich Schiller, op.cit., pp. 555-6

23. Ibid.

24. Ibid.

25. Han-Rüdiger Schwab, op. cit., p. 160

26. Cf. A Manual on the rudiments of Tuning and Registration, ed. by John Sigerson and Kathy Wolfe (Washington, D.C.: Schiller Institute, 1992
(see The Foundations of Scientific Musical Tuning)

27. Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr., “Mozart's Revolution,” loc. cit.

28. On December 15, 1800, when Beethoven offered his septet Op. 20 to the publisher Hofmeister in Leipzig, he appended the following comment: “A septet for violin, viola, violincello, contrabass, clarinet, horn, flute—all obbligati (I can write nothing at all which is not obbligato, because I came into the world with an obbligato accompaniment).” Arnold Feil, op. cit., p. 21.

29. A Manual on Tuning, op. cit., chap.12.
(see The Foundations of Scientific Musical Tuning)

30. Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr., “On the Subject of Metaphor,” Fidelio, Vol. I, No. 3, Fall 1992; “Mozart's Revolution,” loc. cit.


The simplicity, purity of tone, and use of metaphor and irony in older German folk poetry (folksongs), inspired the poems in Wilhelm Müller's “Die Schöne Müllerin,” from which Franz Schubert composed his famous song cycle. These elements, along with such folk themes as “the miller's beautiful daughter,” strongly influenced later lyrics by the poets Heinrich Heine, Joseph von Eichendorff, and J.W. von Goethe. In a similar way, the poetical force contained within the “folksong” settings of African-American Spirituals was recognized by the European Classical composer Anton Dvoř:ák, who drew inspiration for his Symphony No. 9 (“From the New World”) from his familiarity with this “folk” material, through his collaboration with Harry T. Burleigh and other African-American musicians he met in the United States.* The German poems presented here are discussed in the text.

* See Dennis Speed, “African-American Spirituals and the Classical Setting of Strophic Poetry,” in the “Symposium on the Creative Principle in Art and Science,” Fidelio, Vol. III, No. 4, Winter 1994.

Auf den Wällen Salamankas

Heinrich Heine

Auf den Wällen Salamankas
Sind die Lüfte lind und labend;
Dort, mit meiner holden Donna,
Wandle ich am Sommerabend.

Und in den schlanken Leib der Schönen
Hab ich Meinen Arm geborgen,
Und mit elgem Finger fül ich
Ihres Busens stolzes Wogen.

Doch ein ängstliches
Geflüster Zieht sich durch die Lindenbäme,
Und der dunkle Mühlbach unten
Murmelt böse, bange Träume.

,,Ach, Senora, Ahnung sagt mir;
Einst wird man mich relegieren,
Und auf Salamankas Wällen
Gehn wir nimmermehr spazieren.”

Atop the Walls of Salamanca

Heinrich Heine

Atop the walls of Salamanca, the
breezes are gentle and fresh, there with
my fair Doña, I walk of a summer

And I have hooked my arm onto
the beautiful one's slender body, and
with blessed fingers I feel the proud
billows of her bosom.

Yet an apprehensive rustling runs
through the linden trees, and the dark
mill-brook below murmurs bad, frighten-
ening dreams.

“Ah, Señora, a premonition tells
me: One day they will expel me, and on
Salamanca's walls we will never more
go walking.”

Das Fahrende Fräulein

aus Des Knaben Wunderhorn

Dort hoch auf jenem Berge,
da steht ein Mühlenrad.
Das malet nichts als Liebe,
die Nacht bis an den Tag.
Die Mühle ist zerbroche, die Liebe hat ein End.
So segne dich Gott, mein feines Lieb,
jetzt fahr ich ins Elend.

The Traveling Young Lady

from Den Knaben Wunderhorn


There, high on that hill, there stands
a millwheel. It grinds nothing but love,
from night to day. The mill is broken
down, love comes to an end. So God
bless you, my love, now I journey into

Müllers Abschied

aus Des Knaben Wunderhorn

Da droben auf jenem Berge
Da steht ein goldenes Haus,
Da schauen wohl alle früh morgen
Drei schöne Jungfrauen heraus.

Die eine, die heißet
Eilsabeth,Die andre Bernharda mein,
Die dritte, die will ich nicht nennen,
Die sollt mein eigen sein.

Da unten in jenem Tale
Da treibt das Wasser ein Rad,
Das treibet nichts als Liebe
Vom Abend bis wieder an Tag;

Das Rad, das ist gebrochen,
Die Liebe, die hat ein End,
Und wenn zwei Liebende scheiden,
Sie reichen einander die Händ.

Ach Scheiden, ach, ach!
Wer hat doch das Scheiden erdact,
Dast hat mein jung frisch Herzelein
So frühzeitig traurig gemacht.

Dies Lidelein, ach, ach!
Hat wohl ein Müller erdact,
Den hat des Ritters Töchterlein
Vom Lieben zum Scheiden gebracht.

The Miller's Farewell

from Den Knaben Wunderhorn

There, high upon that hill, there
stands a golden house, and early every
morning, three beautiful maidens look

One is named Elisabeth, the other
Bernharda mine, the third I don't
intend to name—she is to be my own.

Down there in that valley the water
drives a wheel, it drives nothing but
love from evening until morning

The millwheel is broken, loves
comes to an end; and when two lovers
part, they take each other's hands.

Oh, parting! Oh! Oh! Who invented
parting, which has so early saddened my fresh
heart so early?

This little song, oh! oh! A miller
made it up, who by the knight's young
daughter was brought from love to

Da droben auf jenem Berge

Heinrich Heine

Da droben auf jenem Berge,
Da steht ein feines Schloß,
Da wohnen drei schöne
Fräulein, Von denen ich Liebe genoß.

Sonnabend küß mich Jette,
Und Sonntag die Julia,
Und Montag die Kunigunde,
Die hat mich erdrückt beinah.

Doch Dienstag war eine Fete
Bei meinen drei Frälein im Schloß;
Die Nachbarschafts-Herren und Damen,
Die kamn zu Wagen und Roß.

Ich aber war nicht geladen,
Und das habt ihr dumm gemacht!
Die zischelnden Muhmen und Basen,
Die merkten's und haben gelacht.

There Hith Upon That Hill
Heinrich Heine

There high upon that hill there
stands a fine castle, there dwell three
beatiful young ladies, whose love I

On Saturday, Jette kissed me; on
Sunday, Julia; and on Monday, Kuni-
gunde, who nearly crushed me.

But on Tuesday, my three young
ladies had a party in the castle. The
neighbor ladies and gentlemen came by
coach and steed.

But I was not invited, and was that
stupid of them! The whispering aunties
and cousins took notice and laughed.

Das zerbrochene Ringlein

Joseph von Eichendorff

In einem kühlen Grunde
Da geht ein Mühlerad,
Meine Liebste ist verschwunden,
Die dort gewohnet hat.

Sie hat mir Treu versprochen,
Gab mir ein'n Ring dabei,
Sie hat die Treu gebrochen,
Mein Ringlein sprang entzwei.

Ich möcht als Spielmann reisen
Weit in die Welt hinaus,
Und singen meine Weisen,
Und gehn von Haus zu Haus.

Ich möcht als Reiter fliegen
Wohl in die blutge Schlacht,
Um stille Feuer ligen
Im Feld in dunkler Nacht.

Hör ich das Mühlrad gehen:
Ich weiß nicht, was ich will—
Ich möcht am liebsten sterben,
Da wärs auf einmal still!

The Broken Ring

There is a cool valley where a mill-wheel
turns. My sweetheart who used to live there has

She promised to be true and gave me a
ring as a token. She broke her faith, my little
ring snapped in two.

I would like to go far out into the
world as a travelling musician and
go from house to house singing my tunes.

I would like to be a cavalryman and
charge into the bloody battle, and lie round quiet
fires in the dark night in the field.

When I hear the mill-wheel working I don't know
what I want. Most of all, I would like to die,
then all of a sudden it would be quiet.

Der Junggesell und der Mülbach

J.W. Goethe

Wo sillst du klares Bächlein hin,
So munter?
Do eilst mit fohem leichtem Sinn
Was sachst du eilig in dem Tal?
So höre doch und sprich einmal!

Ich war ein Bächlein, Junggesell,
Sie haben
Mich so gefaßt, damit ich schnell
Im Graben
Zur Mühle dort hinunter soll,
Und immer bin ich rasch und voll.

Du eilst mit gelassenem Mut
Zur Mühle,
Und weiß nicht, was ich junges Blut
Hier fühle.
Es blickt die schöne Müllerin
Wohl freundlich manchmal nach dir hin?

Sie öffnet früh beim Morgenlicht
Den Laden
Und kommt, ihr liebes Angesicht
Zu baden;
Ihr Busen ist so voll und weiß,
Es wird mir gleich zum Dampfen heiß.

Kann sie im Wasser Liebesglut
Wie soll man Ruh mit Fleisch und Blut
Wohl finden?
Wenn man sie einmal nur gesehn,
Ach immer muß man nach ihr gehn.

Dann stürz' ich auf die Räder mich
Mit Brausen,
Und alle Schaufeln drehen sich
Im Sausen.
Seitdem das schöne Mädchen schafft,
Hat auch das Wasser be[esst]re Kraft.

Du Armer, fülst du nich den Schmerz
Wie andre?
Sie lacht dich an und agt im Scherz:
Nun wandre!
Sie heilte dich wohl selbst zurück
Mit einem süßen Liebesblick?

Mir wird so schwer, so scher vom Ort
Zu fließen;
Ich krümme mich nur sachte fort
Durch Wiesen;
Und käm' es erst auf mich nur an,
Der Weg wär bald zurück getan.

Geselle meine Liebesqual,
Ich scheide;
Du murmelst mir vielleicht einmal
Zur Freude.
Geh, sag' ihr gleich, und sag' ihr oft,
Was still der Knabe wünscht und hofft.

The Millhand and the Mill Brook


Where are you going, clear little
book, so merrily? You rush down in
happy, light spirits; what are you seeking in
the valley with such haste? Hear me
and say something!


I was a little brook, millhand, they
captured me, so that I must be
quickly in the grave down there at
the mill, and I am ever quick and full.


You rush serenely to the mill, and
know not, what I with my young
blood feel here. Does the beautiful miller's
daughter ever give you a freindly


Early in the morning light, she
opens the shutter, and comes to
bathe her sweet face. Her bosom is
so full and white, it makes me hot as steam.


If she can kindle the flush of love
in water, how can flesh and blood
find peace? Once you have
seen her, oh!, you must pursue her forever.


Then I hurl myself on the millwheels,
foaming, and all the paddles
turn in the roaring. Since the beautiful girl
came on the scene, even the water
has greater strength.


You poor fellow, don't you feel
pain as others do? She smiles at
you and says in jest:
Now wander!
Would she hold
you back with a sweet loving glance?


It will be so hard, to be forced to |
run away from this place; I wind
my way little by little through the
meadows; and if it were only up
to me, the way back
would soon be taken.


Companion of my love-agony,
I take my leave; perhaps some
day you will murmur to me and
make me joyous. Go, tell her at
once, tell her over and over,
what the young lad silently wishes
and hopes for.

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