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Notre Dame, Indiana
When Hugo Wolf was attempting to explain his philosophy of art to
his new friend, the Stuttgart composer Emil Kauffmann, in the summer
of 1890, he cited works by the Swabian poet Eduard Mi:irike (1804-
1875) as a perfect example of the kind of artistic truth he too sought to
And Mi:irike himself, this darling of the Graces! to what excesses his Muse gave
herself up, when she turned her countenance to the demonic side of truth! The
Erstes Liebeslied eines Miidchens presents a striking example of this. And what
convulsive intimacy, what voluptuous pleasure in pain [ welche krampfhafte
Innigkeit, welches wolhistige Behagen am Peinlichen>>] speaks from those
inimitable lines: <<Erinn' rung reicht mit Lacheln die verbittert I Bis zur
Betaubung siillen Zauberschalen; I So trink' ich gierig die entziickten Qualem>.
That is written with blood, and such tones can only strike one who, suffering,
surrenders his innermost being to deeply truthful knowledge?
' These lines come from the seventh stanza of the poem in ottava rima, Besuch in Urach
(Visit to Urach), written after a visit to that Wiirttemberg seminary in 1827. Wolf would have
known this poem from the so-called "Ausgabe letzter Hand", that is, the fourth edition of
Morike's anthologized poems and the last to be supervised by the poet himself. See Gedichte
von Eduard Morike: Vierte vermehrte Auf/age (Stuttgart, ]. G. Cotta, 1867), p. 48. Emil
Kauffmann was the son of the Swabian composer Ernst Friedrich Kauffmann, a boyhood
friend of Morike' s; it is largely due to the efforts of Emil Kauffmann and his family that so
many Morike manuscripts, possessions, books, memorabilia, and letters were preserved, much
of it now in the collections of the Deutsches Literatur-Archiv and Schiller-Museum in
Marbach, near Morike's birthplace in Ludwigsburg and his last home in Stuttgart.
H. WoLF, Brie/e an Emil Kauffmann, ed. E. Hellmer, Leipzig, Breitkopf & Hartel, 1903,
p. 13 f., letter of 5 June 1890. This is the same letter in which Wolf writes the single most often-
quoted principle by which he sought to create music: <<Oberstes Prinzip in der Kunst ist mir
strenge, herbe, unerbittlicbe W ahrheit, W ahrheit bis zur Grausantkeit>>.
The context for this impassioned passage is somewhat distressing for latter-
day readers - Wolf was trying to prove that Wagner was superior to
Brahms (Wolf dubbed his detestation of his great contemporary mein
anti-Brahmimentum>>) - but the letter is nonetheless crucial for what it
tells of Wolfs attraction to this poetic repertoire above all others. Wolf
even mimics the trafficking in oxymoron he found so compelling in
some of Morike's poems (the poet's recourse to this baroque mannerism
is one indication of Morike' s love of seventeenth-century verse), this
device and others used to evoke the intensity, complexity, ambiguity,
and suffering of life. That the composer in some sense claimed Morike
as an elective alter ego is evident in the letter to Kauffmann, but more
than mere admiration is at work here. Wolf used the poet for his own
purposes, filtering everything in Morike through the warping mirror of
his (i.e., Wolfs) psychology, musical concerns, and cultural context,
different from the Vormarz object of his veneration. The creative
discrepancies between poet and composer are far more interesting than
the hoary legend of Wolf and his poets marching in perfect lockstep, a
myth now largely discredited.
Wolf was prone to pairing songs, often at the poet's behest (Au/ eine
Christblume I & II), but not always.
One pair of songs in the Morike
volume is perhaps indebted to Schumann's practice of grouping together
separate poetic texts by the same poet in such a way as to re-read the
poetry, altering its tone and temper (for example, the selection and
ordering of Heine's poems in Dichterliebe so as to mitigate this poet's
corrosive bitterness).
Wolf worked on a smaller scale, but he too paired
his settings of Der Knabe und das Immlein (The Boy and the Little Bee)
and one of Morike's most plangent laments, Bin Stundlein wahl var Tag
(About an Hour Before Daybreak), with no carte blanche from the poet
to do so; the poems are separate works in the sixth edition of Morike's
poetic anthology, Wolfs probable textual source. The musical con-
nectives are not a matter of subtleties only to be teased out by the
cognoscenti upon deep structural analysis, but blatant, unmistakable. The
Schubert had earlier been wont to form subgroupings of two or three linked songs within
hts larger cycles (such as Die Iiebe Farbe and Die bose Farbe, or Pause and Mit dem griinen
Lautenbande, or Des Miillers Blumen and Thriinenregen from Die schone Miillerin), and Wolf
would surely have recognized the practice.
After the young Wolf_ was expelled from the Vienna Conservatory some time in early
1877, he became an autodidact who taught himself composition, in part by mimicking
Schumann. See S. YoUENS, Hugo Wolf: The Vocal Music, Princeton, Princeton University
Press. 1992, chap. 1, '"Too Much Like Schumann': The Apprenticeship of a Lieder Composer"
lament is based upon the same musical material one finds in the first half of
Der Knabe und das Immlein, implying that the grief in Bin Stundlein wahl
var Tag is the outcome of what happens in the void between it and Der
Knabe und das Immlein. If Wolf is blatant about the musical connection
in one sense, he is curiously reticent about the matter in every other way.
The songs follow one after another as nos. 2 and 3 in the volume, but
there is no directive that they should be performed together; in fact, they
usually appear as separate items on recitals or recordings. Looking at the
chronology of composition, one sees that the songs were composed on
the same day (22 February 1888, a day which also saw the composition
of ]dgerlied) -what impelled him to put these two poems together?
At the simplest level, Der Knabe und das Immlein and Bin Stundlein wahl
var Tag are both poems in iambic trimeters, hence, adaptable to the same
music, but connectives other than rhythmic similitude were, I would
guess, what prompted Wolf to build tonal bridges between the two
poems. One notes a certain parallelism of opposites between the
"Tierlein" - a little bee - who refuses to carry messages from an amorous
youth to the girl he desires in Der Knabe und das Immlein and the
"Tierlein" - a swallow - who cannot be deterred from proclaiming the
end of love to a young woman in Bin Stundlein wahl var Tag. In both, a
voice from the world of Nature (the world to which sexual drives belong)
instructs a human lover, the boy of the title in Der Knabe und das
Immlein and the young woman in the lament. Plaisirs d'amaur, chagn'ns
d'amaur: that, in a nutshell, sums up the sequence of these two poems,
linked in no small measure by the appearance of the verb herzen at crucial
points in each. The youth who declares at the end of Der Knabe und das
Immlein that nothing is better than cuddling and kissing means what he
says, and the words have darker imputations of infidelity. When tired of
"cuddling" one sweetheart, the youth will, and does, move on to someone
else without a twinge of conscience to disturb his pleasures - Herzt er
ein Lieb in guter Ruh>>, the implacable little swallow of Bin Stundlein
wahl var Tag announces. The birds in stanza 2 of Der Knabe und das
Immlein, birds who are silent in the summer sultriness evocative of sexual
heat, are doubly symbolic in Wolfs Lieder: the sweetheart is too young
and therefore no "flying", no sexual intercourse (vogeln), can happen as
yet, and hence the talking birds of folklore are momentarily mute,
postponing their traditional ill-tidings of strayed love until the next song.
5 One thinks of the folksong Der gefangene Vogel: <<In Wald bini ganga, I Was batt i gem
What Wolf created when he paired these poems was the most
compressed possible "narrative" of a love affair, a narrative which
consists only of the pre-history and the ending. Everything in the middle
of the standard scenario of love and abandonment - courtship,
seduction, initial bliss, cooling-off, jealousies, suspicions - is omitted, as
if the old tale were so commonplace that there is no need to tell it any
longer; one can simply "fast forward" from archetypal attraction to
archetypal abandonment. The lad's eagerness for sexual pleasure with a
schoolgirl he hardly knows, one as yet barely aware of sex (She has
barely looked at you, the bee scolds, "you" being men in general, the
youth in particular), is not an omen of lasting love, in Wolfs reading,
and he suggests a melancholy outcome at the beginning of Der Knabe
und das Immlein. Cassandra-like, he hints at tragedy, but neither we nor
the maiden can read its riddle until it is too late and that which he
prophesied in tones has come to pass. Wolf darkens our understanding
of Der Knabe und das Immlein when he invents enigmatic strains at the
start and then explains the enigmas in Ein Stundlein wahl vor Tag, such
that we cannot, at the close, understand the boy and the bee as innocent
Before considering the musical links between Wolfs Der Knabe und
das Immlein and Ein Stundlein wahl vor Tag, however, one should look
at the individual poems in more detail.
Der Knabe und das Immlein
Im Weinberg auf der Hohe
Ein Hauslein steht so windebang,
Hat weder Tur noch Fenster,
Die Weile wird ihm lang.
Und ist der Tag so schwiile,
Sind all verstummt die Vogelein,
Summt an der Sonnenblume
Ein Immlein ganz allein.
Mein Lieb hat einen Garten,
Da steht ein hubsches Immenhaus:
The Boy and the Little Bee
In the vineyard on the heights
a little house stands so wind-afraid;
has neither door nor window,
and boredom makes the day long.
And when the day is sultry
all the songbirds are silent,
a honeybee buzzes, all alone,
around the sunflower.
My sweetheart has a garden;
in it stands a darling beehive:
g'hett? I En Vogel haun i gfanga I Zua mir in mei Ben. II I will dir net ratha, I I sprich dir net zua, I
Der Vogel konnt bei!la I Und bicka in Fuall. II Na konntest 'et laufa, INa konntest 'et gaun, INa
that es glei hoalla I Der Vogel hatts thaun>>. See E. MErER, Schwiibische Volkslieder mit
ausgewiihlten Melodzen, Berlin, Reimer, 1855, p. 109 f.
Kommst du daher geflogen?
Schickt sie dich nach mir aus?
"0 nein, du feiner Knabe,
Es hieE mich niemand Boren gehn;
Dies Kind weill nichts von Lieben,
Hat dich noch kaum gesehn.
Was wilE ten auch die Mad chen,
Wenn sie kaum aus der Schule sind!
Dein herzallerliebtes Schatzchen
Ist noch ein Mutterkind.
Ich bring' ihm Wachs und Honig;
Ade! - ich hab' ein ganzes Pfund;
Wie wird das Schatzchen lachen,
Ihm wassert schon der Mund".
Ach, wolltest du ihr sagen,
Ich wiiEte, was vie! suEer ist:
Nichts Lieblichers auf Erden,
Als wenn man herzt und kuEt!
have you come flying from there?
Has she sent you out after me?
"Oh no, you fine lad,
no one told me to send messages.
That child knows nothing about love;
she has barely looked at you yet.
What do you expect girls to know
when they are hardly out of school!
Your dearly-beloved little sweetheart
is still her mother's child.
I am bringing her wax and honey;
Goodbye! -I have a whole pound.
How the darling will laugh;
her mouth is already watering".
Ah, if you wanted to tell her,
I know something that's much sweeter:
there is nothing lovelier on earth
than hugging and kissing!
The mysterious conjunctions in the first stanza _are, in
the keys to the poem.
The little house on the herghts ill the mrdst of a
grape-arbor at first seems a real designation of until one
encounters the neologism windebang (wind-fearful) and realizes that the
volkstumlich beginning conceals depths; with the end of 2, the
poem becomes rich and strange. The word windebang disrupts
poetic rhythm, creating a line in iambic tetrameters (the last rs
incomplete, consisting of a single accented syllable) surrounded by ynes
in folklike trimeters. If the stanza read lm Weinberg auf der Hohe I
Ein Hauslein steht so bang, I Hat weder Tiir noch Fenster, I Die Weile
wird ihm lang, it would still speak in a little less
powerfully. The word is, furthermore, a syntacucally_pec_uliar compound,
neither fully an adjective nor an adverb, but somethillg ill
it perhaps this word, with its hint that "wind", or sexual passiOn, IS
' M6RIKE, Ausgabe letzter Hand, 1867, p. 12 f. _ ...
7 SeeS. WOODTU-L6FFLER, "Windebang"- Die Bedeutung des Windes Eduard Manke,
Trivium, ill, 1945, pp. 198-217: 198-200, speculates that the first stanza ongmally had nothing
to do with the story of the boy and the bee (! disagree With that conclusiOn) and was grafted onto
a poem which took a different tum than originally intended; she was also mystifted by the symbol
of the little house with no doors and wmdows.
indeed something to be feared, that spurred Wolf to pair this poem with a
lament for an affair gone the way of all flesh?
The association of storm winds with human passion (a traditional
poetic topos) is a recurring motif in Morike, from its lighter incarnations
in Begegnung to such dark, furious ballads as Die schlimme Gret und der
Konigssohn, in which the king's son is crushed to death by the demonic
"bride of the winds" at the end. The legendary robber Jung Volker,
whose tale is told in Maler Nolten, is wont to announce his arrival with a
song about his gypsy mother, a merry version of the "Windsbraut"
theme. This sun-browned (the usual folkloric designation of lower-class
origins and sensuality) free spirit wanted nothing to do with men or
marriage but was foiled by "the wind":
From ]ung Volkers Lied
Sie scherzte nur und lachte !aut
Und !iei) die Freier stehen:
"Mocht' Iieber sein des Windes Braut,
Dennin die Ehe gehen!"
Da kam der Wind, da nahm der Wind
Als Buhle sie gefartgen:
Von dem hat sie ein lustig Kind
In ihren SchoE empfangen.
From fung Volker's Song
She only joked and laughed loudly
and left her suitors standing:
"I'd rather be the wind's bride
than marry! "
Then came the wind, the wind
took her as its lover,
from it she got a merry child
In her womb.
To be "windebang" is to be frightened of the destructive, elemental
force of sexual passion. No actual house lacks doors and windows or
knows boredom, and therefore we are led to understand the "Hauslein"
as an anthropomorphized symbol for a young girl who is not yet
sexually mature (but, as we discover, is close to it). The domestic
enclosure of a house is a traditional symbol of the female, of vaginal
chambers and wombs; the fact that this one is "little" and "dear"
suggests that the maiden is young, her youth confirmed by the lack of a
window or door through which the "wind" might enter. The aroused
youth who longs for her has as yet no access to those closed chambers.
To be barred from sex must be boring, he suggests disingenuously in
the last line of stanza 1, unable to imagine any other way a girl might
pass the time which would be half so interesting. Wolfs delicately
lubricious grace-noted leap upward in the vocal line at the word lang,
coupled with the little dotted rhythmic kick of excitement in the inner
voice of the accompaniment, tells us that the poetic persona, as he
invokes the girl's "boredom", enVlsJons the perfect solution to the
In the context of Wolfs, the poetic persona of Der Knabe
und das Immlein is a philanderer-in-the-making, and it is yet another
measure of Wolfs literary acuity that he could see beyond the irresistible
youthful ardor of this poem to a dark future for the sweetheart thus
Every detail of the mise-en-scene is symbolic and sexual, although the
symbolism is less graphic than that in Erstes Liebeslied eines Madchens.
The grape arbor in which the little house sits is an antique symbol of
fertility and Dionysiac sexuality, a promise of fructifications to come, and
yet, the "Hiiuslein" -girl is presently on the inaccessible heights, out -of-
reach of the men who wish to enter her. The sunflower (a female symbol)
turns its face adoringly to the (male) sun which gives it life, and it depends
upon the bee to pollinate it so that the bee in turn can make honey in the
hive - fertility emblems galore. My sweetheart has a garden>>, the lad
says, resorting to the ages-old symbol of the hortus conclusus, or the
garden of love, and in it is a beehive from which honey flows; the vaginal
garden, clitoral beehive, and the honey of sexual secretions are not
difficult to decode. The sweetheart's mouth waters at the mere thought of
honey, the bee declares; she is almost ripe for sexual pleasures and will
soon develop a taste for a more adult kind of mouth-watering sweetness.
The images of bees and honey in Der Knabe und das Immlein come from
a venerable literary tradition.
Morike, who loved ancient Greek and Latin
lyric poetry, devises in Der Knabe und das Immlein a pseudo-folklike
Teutonic cousin to the myth of Eros and the bee, in which the small god
of love is stung by a creature hitherto unknown to him as he is plundering
either a rose or a hive filled with honey, both emblems of female
sexuality. When he runs crying to his mother Venus, she laughingly tells
him that this pain is nothing compared to the wounds he inflicts on
mortals with his arrows. One of the most famous early versions of this tale
is that by Anacreon in the fifth century B.C., a poem Morike translated in
1864 as Der verwunderte Eros (The wounded Eros; stanza 2 of two):
a It is the composer's voice we hear: he both foreshadows the melancholy heartbreak .of Ezn
Stundlein wahl vor Tag in this passage and tells us, Mth a touch of comedy, what the lads cure
for such "boredom" would be.
o See J. GLOCK, Die Symbolik der Bienen und zhrer Produkte in Sage, Dichtung, Kultus,
Kunst und Briiuchen der Volker. Eine kulturgeschtchtlzche Schtlderung des Brenenvolkes au/
iisthetischer Grundlage, Heidelberg. Weill'sche Universitiits-Buchhandlung Theodor Groos,
"0 weh mir, Iiebe Mutter!
Ach weh, ich sterbe
" rief er:
"Gebissen bin ich worden
Von einer kleinen Schlange
Mit Flugeln - Biene heillet
Sie bei den Ackersleuten".
Sie sprach: "Kann so der Stachel
Von einem Bienchen schrnerzen,
Was meinst du, daB die leiden,
Die du verwundest, Eros?"
"0 woe is me, dear mother!
Ah woe, I die!" he cried:
"I was bitten
by a little snake
with wings - the
farmers call them bees".
She said: "] ust so can the sting
of a bee cause pain.
What do you think they suffer,
those you wound, Eros?"
Theocritus also told the tale in his nineteenth idyll, which the eighteenth-
century poet Johann Heinrich Voss translated in classicizing hexameters as
Der Honigdieb (The Honey Thief):
Einst ward Eros, der Dieb, von den
zomigen Bienen gestochen,
Als er Honig dem Korb entwendete.
Vom an den Handen
Hatten sie all' ihrn die Finger
durchbohrt; er blies sich die Hande
Schmerzvoll, sprang auf den Boden und
stampfte. Jetzo der Kypris
Zeigt' er das schwellende Weh' und
jammerte, daB so ein kleines
Tierchen die Biene nur sei und wie
miichtige Wunden sie mache.
Liichelnd die Mutter darauf: Bist du
nicht iihnlich dem Bienlein?
Schau, wie klein du bist und wie
miichtige Wunden du machst! "
Once was Eros, the thief, stung by
angry bees
as he stole honey from the hive. Right
on his hands
they pierced each finger; he blew
on his hands, jumped up and stamped
his feet. Then to Cypris
he showed the swelling hurt and
lamented that the bees
were only such little animals and yet
they made such mighry wounds.
Smiling, his mother then said: "Art
thou not similar to the little bee?
Look, how small you are and what
mighty wounds you make!"
This is Eros's own deflowering, and later poets by the score were drawn to
this Ur-mythology of love as pain and penetration, however delicate the
rendering or pastoral the context. What seems in Morike like a versified
village folk-tale from Swabia has all the auctoritas of ancient Greece behind it.
See E. M6RIKE, Werke und Brie/e, VIII, part 1: Ubersetzungen, ed. U. Hotzer, Sturtgart,
Ernst Klett, 1976, p. 446, and lD., Anakreon und die sogenannten Anakreontischen Lieder
Stuttgart, Krrus & Hoffmann, 1864. '
Theokntos, Bion und Moschos, trans. J. H. Voss, Tiibingen, J. G. Cotta, 1808 XIX Der
Homgdteb. ' '
The tale was told in art as well: it was a favorite of Lucas Cranach the
Elder, whose many versions of the scene each depict an elegantly naked
and amused Venus standing next to a chubby Cupid crawling with bees
and grimacing in pain.
Reading the following passage from an idyll by
Carl Philipp Conz (1762-1827, a professor of classics at Tiibingen), one
feels something of the same Schadenfreude shiver impelled by Cranach's
Als wir tiefer kamen ins Dunkel des
heiligen Haines,
Lag wie ein purpurnes Apfelchen hold,
der Knabe Cytherens,
Ab den Bogen gelegt und den
pfeilverwahrenden Kocher;
Diese hingen am Baum, vom
siiuselnden Laube geborgen.
Liichelnd lag er, von Schlummer
umstrickt, auf Bliittem von Rosen.
Goldene Bienen urnkrochen des
Schlafenden wachserne Lippen,
Krochen hinein und heraus und sogen
den Honig der Liebe.
As we went deeper into the dark of the
holy meadow,
there gently lay, like a ripe little apple,
the Cytherean's lad,
his bow laid down and the quiver with
its arrows;
these hung on the tree, hidden by
rustling branches.
Smiling, he lay there, by sleep
entangled, on rose-petals.
Golden bees crept over the sleeping
god's waxen lips,
crept in and out and sucked the honey
of love.
The lengthy poetic retelling of the Cupid-and-the-bees myth in Des
Knaben Wunderhorn is even entitled Schadenfreude (Pleasure in Pain),
lest one miss the point.
The bee (male) who sleeps (post-coitally) in
rose petals (female sex organs) from which it took honey (sexual
secretions) in Gotthold Ephraim Lessing's Die Biene (The Bee) is
about as potent an assemblage of erotic symbols as one could find
anywhere; his Amor takes artful revenge for his ages-old hurt by
turning him s e If into a bee and stinging a maiden who comes to pick
flowers (stanza 2 of two):
12 Cranach's depictions of Venus with Cupid stealing honey are in the Statens Museum for
Kunst in Copenhagen, the Borghese Gallery in Rome, the Gemiildegalerie in Berlin, the
Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg, the New York Historical Society, and various
private collections. See M. J. FRIEDLANDER and J. RosENBERG, The Paintings o/ Lucas Cranach,
Ithaca, N.Y., Cornell University Press, 1978, plates 244, 245, 247, 248, 395, 396, 398, 400
and pp. 118 f., 149, and 201.
" Cited in GLOCK, Die Symbolik der Bienen, p. 392.
14 See L.A. VON ARNIM and CL. BRENTANO, Des Knaben Wunderhorn. Alte deutsche Lieder,
Essen-Stuttgart, Phaidon, 1986, pp. 557-560.
Durch diesen Stich ward Amor kliiger. Through this sting was Amor made
Der unerschopflicher Betriiger
Sann einer neuen Kriegslist nach:
Er lauschte unter Nelk und Rosen;
Ein Magdchen kam, sie liebzukosen,
Er floh als Bien' heraus und stachl
The untiring deceiver
concocted another battle-plan:
he lurked beneath the carnations and
and when a maiden came to pick them,
he flew out as a bee and stung her.
The boy in Der Knabe und das Immlein who says that nothing is
sweeter than hugging and kissing, not even honey from the honeycomb,
has numerous kith-and-kin in literature. The love-struck young man of
Naturtrieb (Natural Instinct) in Des Knaben Wunderhorn argues
disingenuously that just as bees are impelled to give a hundred
thousand kisses to all manner of flowers and plants, so he is driven to
seek his food and wine on the sweetheart's lips, while the bee who
speaks in Die Rose (The Rose) announces:
Die Rose bliiht, ich bin die fromme
The rose blossoms, I am the pious bee,
Und riihre zwar die keuschen and stir the chaste petals,
Blatter an,
Daher ich Tau und Honig schopfen so that I can create dew and honey ...
kann ... t6
For all the protestations of piety and modesty, the sexual implications are
clear. In Johann Christoph Friedrich Haug's (1761-1829) love poem a
l' antique, the lovely Celestine is stung in the lips by a lewd bee (we
are invited to hear innuendos of labial lips and the "stinging" penis),
and the man in turn is stung by love (The honey stayed in my mouth, I
the sting went into my heart>>) and thereby inspired to poetry. When
Goethe wished to hymn Meine Gottin - Imagination - in 1780, he
gave her Bienenlippen>> (bee lips) with which she Ieicht nahrenden
Tau I .. . I von Bhiten saugt>> (sips lightly nourishing dew from the
G. E. LESSING, Werke und Bne/e, II: Werke 1751-1753, ed.]. Stenzel, Frankfurt a.M.,
Deutscher Klassiker Verlag, 1998, p. 613 f.
ARNIM and BRENTANO, Des Knaben Wunderhorn, Naturtrieb, p. 352 f., andDze Rose, p. 159 f.
See ]. W. GoETHE, Selected Poems, ed. Chr. Middleton, Princeton, N.J., Princeton
University Press, 1994, p. 75 f.
But Eros also kills. In a variation on the legend of the moth to the
flame, Heine substitutes a bee symbolic of erotically-driven youth in
Die Lehre, or Lesson (Robert Franz set this poem to music as the fifth
of his Sechs Lieder von Heinrich Heine, op. 41); Mutter zum
Bienelein: I "Hut dich vor Kerzenschein!">> (Mother to the little bee: I
"beware of the candle's flame!"), the poem begins, but the bee does
not heed the warning and dies in the fire. Hut dich vor Magdelein, I
Sohnelein! Sohnelein!>> (Beware of maidens, I little son, little son!), the
eponymous mother warns her eponymous son at the end. And bee
imagery of love and death reappears in Morike's works in the late
poem Erinna an Sappho, when Erinna vows to make an offering to
Demeter of a golden hair-net embroidered with bees, a gift to her from
Sappho, if the goddess will keep death at bay from the two poets
- but Erinna herself dies soon thereafter.
Although Wolf did
not set Erinna an Sappho to music, he surely knew it, knew that the
"Bienlein" of Eros make the women who partake of their honey
vulnerable to tragedy. By itself, Morike's Der Knabe und das Immlein
is merry, sensual, honey-sweet, and Wolf acknowledges every iota of its
sweetness in his music, but by pairing it with Ein Stiindlein wahl vor
Tag, he bids the listener count the cost of such love in grief. This,
Wolf says, is where the treble trilling and honeyed sweetness of the
first song can lead.
The bird in Ein Stiindlein wahl vor Tag also comes from a long literary
ancestry of avian messengers to lovers, for good or ill. Des Knaben
Wunderhorn includes several comic versions of the theme, such as
Wechselgesang (Dialogue Song) in which a nightingale brings a lover's
marriage proposal to a young woman, and Frau Nachtigal! (Lady
Nightingale), whose love-struck young man begs the bird of love to tell
him wie ich mich verhalten soli>> (how I should comport myself)
Wolfians will recognize that Morike quotes the latter poem in his own
Au/trag, whose comically desperate young man implores his cousin Chris
for a treatise on lovers' etiquette. But the time for such pleasantries is
long gone when the "Stiindlein" of this lament arrives. Women formerly
wooed by nightingale intermediaries learn of their lovers' betrayal from
the self-same bird.
" See M6RIKE, Ausgabe letzter Hand of 1867, p. 156.
" Des Knaben Wunderhorn, Wechselgesang, p. 447; Frau Nachtzga/1, p. 59.
Die Nachtigal! (stanzas 1-4 of 6)
"Nachtigall, klein Vagelein,
Willst du diese Nacht mein Bote sein?"-
"Ich will wohl dein Bote sein,
Nur bin ich so 'n klein Vagelein".
The Nightingale
"Nightingale, dear little bird,
will you be my messenger tonight?" -
"I will gladly be your messenger,
even if I am only a little bird".
(It is against the backdrop of Nature's message service in folklore that the
boy in Morike's Der Knabe und das Immlein expects word of his
sweetheart from the little bee, his expectation overturned when the bee
replies, No one told me to send messages - Morike often flirts with
folkloric .motifs in this way.) In another folk poem, Waldvogelein (Little
Forest Btrd), a young woman bids a nightingale sing to her sweetly of
her lover:
Waldvogelein (stanzas 1-2 of six)
Ich gieng durch einen grasgriinen
Da hart ich die Vagelein singen;
Sie sangen so jung, sie sangen so alt,
Die kleinen Vagelein in dem Wald:
Die har ich so gerne wohl singen.
Stimm an, stimm an, feins Nachtigall,
Sing mir es von meinem Feinsliebchen
Sing mir es so hubsch, sing mir es so '
"Bis Abend da will ich bei ihr sein
Will schlafen in ihren Armen".
Little Forest Bird
I went through a grassy-green forest,
there I heard the little bird singing;
it sang so young, it sang so old,
the dear little bird in the forest:
that I so gladly hear singing.
Sing, sing, dear nightingale,
sing to me of my beloved,
sing of him so sweet! y, sing of him so
"Tills evening, I will be with him,
will sleep in his arms".
The lover proves false, however, and other nightingales in other poems
warn of. betrayal a ~ d dishonor: He sticks a feather in his cap and leaves
good grrls to thetr shame, says the nightingale in the aptly-named
Warnung (Warning).
. The .skeleton of earlier laments for sexual betrayal and abandonment is
evtdent m Morike's poem:
~ L. ERK and W. IR,\IER, Die deutschen Folks lieder mtt ihren Singweisen I Be lin
P n sche Buchhandlung, 1838, p. 57. ' ' r '
L. ERK, Deutscher Liederhort, Leipzig, Breitkopf & Hanel. 1890, p. 247.
!vi, p. 667.
Ein Stundlein wahl vor Tag
Derweil ich schlafend lag,
Ein Stiindlein wohl vor Tag,
Sang vor dem Fenster auf dem Baum
Ein Schwalblein mir, ich hart' es kaum,
Ein Stiindlein wohl vor Tag:
"Har an, was ich dir sag'!
Dein Schatzlein ich verklag':
Derweil ich dieses singen tu,
Herzt er ein Lieb in guter Ruh,
Ein Stiindlein wohl vor Tag".
0 weh! nicht weiter sag!
0 still! nichts haren mag!
Flieg ab! flieg ab von meinem Baum!
- Ach, Lieb' und Treu' ist wie ein
Ein Stiindlein wohl vor Tag
About an Hour Be/ore Daybreak
While I lay sleeping,
about an hour before daybreak,
from the tree in front of my window
a little swallow sang to me, I barely
heard it,
about an hour before daybreak:
"Listen to what I tell you!
I accuse your sweetheart:
As I am singing this to you,
he hugs another love, quite content,
about an hour before daybreak".
Oh woe' speak no further!
Oh, be quiet! I don't want to hear
Fly away, fly away from my tree'
- Ah, love and faithfulness are like a
about an hour before daybreak.
Morike wastes few words on the personae or the mise-en-scene. All we
need is the sparest of references to bedroom, window, and tree in stanza
1 and to the pronoun er in stanza 2 to realize that here, a female poetic
voice mourns the lover who has just abandoned here. Within the
confines of a small poem, polarities abound, in the discrepancy between
the small "Stiindlein" (diminutives appear in every stanza) and the
enormity of what it brings, between the beautiful bird and the horror of
what it says, between night and day, fidelity and betrayal, waking and
dreaming. The love the woman thought was hers has proven to be as
insubstantial as a dream, incompatible with the daytime world of cruel
fact to which she has awakened. The remarkably constricted rhyme-
scheme (a q b b q I a a c c q I a a b b q) is dominated, one notices, by
the sound of Tag, the vowel of lamentation (Ach) tolling throughout the
poem in a tocsin of grief.
One can understand the messenger-bird in one sense as a sibylline
voice from within the woman herself, an apprehension of truth that
comes to consciousness at the pre-dawn hour when denial - a defense-
23 MbRIKE, Ausgabe letzter Hand of 1867, p. 21.
mechanism of wakefulness - is weakened. She can barely hear it, she says,
and no wonder; inner voices saying what we do not wish to hear are faint
for that very reason. Every attribute of the bird seems symbolic, even the
choice of a swallow rather than the nightingale; one thinks of the English
expression, One swallow does not make a summer>>, and wonders
whether the poet knew it. Like the nightingale, it sings, which renders
its unwelcome words beautiful, and it flies away at the end, the very
symbol of inconstant love, unlike the woman-tree, rooted in place. The
dash at the beginning of stanza 3, line 4 seems a hieroglyph representing
the brief time in which the bird obeys the heartbroken imperative Fly
awaY>>, leaving the woman alone with her sad musings in the last two lines.
Morike, so often obsessed in his poetry with the operations of Time,
makes of it both title and refrain, the point to which each stanza circles
back at the end. The pre-dawn darkness - it is, we are told, "well"
before day, the word wahl in ironic contrast with the deprivation of all
well-being this hour brings - will not, so the reiterations of the refrain
tell us, go away as love did; the poetic speaker inhabits the moment of
loss, reliving it over and over as if on a tape-loop. (After the longer
iambic tetrameters in lines 3-4, the return to iambic trimeters in line 5
gives the refrain added epigrammatic emphasis. Furthermore, lines 1, 2,
and 5 - the shorter lines - are end-stopped, slowing down the lament;
the longer lines 3-4 flow smoothly in stanza 1, then become progressive-
ly more fragmented in the succeeding stanzas. The control of phrase
rhythm is absolute.) The speaker's complex experience of time - time
which passes and time frozen in place, both inexorable, v.':ith past and
present tragically intertwined - is conveyed by verb tenses whose
sequence is a key to the poem. The first stanza tells us that the
"Stiindlein" happened in the past, while the second and third stanzas
shift to present tense; the "past" recounted in the first stanza is in the
imperfect, denoting a past that continues into the present, while the
present tense of the subsequent verses tells us that the poetic persona in
stanzas 2 and 3 re-lives the moment of revelation as if it were happening
then and there. From these verbs and from the grammatical parallelism
between the lines Derweil ich schlafend lag>> in stanza 1 and Derweil
ich dieses singen tu>> in stanza 2, one understands that the bird sings,
the unfaithful lover lies with another woman, the speaker laments, all at
the same time. The "Stiindlein" is both a moment and infinity, and it
has, at this moment, the dreadful power to go on and on, without end.
The hour of undoing, of realization, is also what Wolf foreshadows
at the beginning of his setting of Der Knabe und das Immlein (see
pp. 205-210), but so enigmatically that the meaning of the music for stanzas
1 and 2 only becomes apparent when we hear the second song. The
function of many piano introductions in 19th-century Lieder is the estab-
lishment of the tonality and of the principal musical material in advance
of the words, but that is the last thing Wolf wanted for a song whose
beginning he wished to cloak in enigma, so he omits the introduction
altogether. The compositional decision is all the more apropos because the
poem begins like a fairy tale or fable (In such-and-such a place, there
was such-and-such a person ... >>), and Wolf accordingly adopts an erzdh-
lend quarter-note tactus perfect for story-telling at the start of his song.
But at the same time, the initial phrases are so incomplete and ambigu-
ous, so filled with unexplained hints, that we have no way of knowing
whether the tale to follow will be happy or sad. Do the harmonic intervals
- sketches of chords, none of them complete - of the anacrusis and
m. 1, for example, belong to major or G minor? The motivic echo
in the left-hand part at m. 2, repeated in m. 4, might seem to weigh the
balance in favor of G minor because of the FI-G semitone voice-leading,
but what happens above does not clarify matters, quite the opposite. The
piano accompaniment lacks solid ground on which to stand, hovering
instead in mid-air without a firm bass footing until m. 7, when a caden-
tial formula appears at the words die Weile wird ihm lang>> - this
the poetic speaker says with conviction, manifested in an authorita-
tive concluding formula, followed by clarification of the tonal identity
as G minor in mm. 8-9 (soon to cede to G major for stanza 3 onward).
What most clouds the identification of tonal locus at the beginning are
the phrase-endings for the first two lines of Morike's poem, the second
phrase an almost-identical repetition of the first. The C#s of Hohe and
[win]debang are a chromatic anomaly, a pitch we sense as an intruder
in whatever key this turns out to be, and its repetition, v.':ith no
explanation on either occasion, deepens the sense of mystery. The
augmented sixth is not only prolonged for an unusual length of time,
Wolf thereby calling attention to it all the more, but fails to resolve in
any expected fashion, indeed at all. Wolf merely shifts the voice-leading
beneath the enigmatic Cl and returns to the harmonic fragments of m.
1, repeated as m. 3; at the end of m. 4, he respells C# enharmonically as
D in order to descend sequentially, the transposed repetition also
culminating in chromatic alteration at the word Fenster) - but the
voice-leading proceeds more logically, and we are not made to sense the
same chromatic impasse as before. Furthermore, the elided, transposed,
varied echoes of the right-hand figure for m. 1 in the
left hand at mm. 2 and 4 on the pitches A-BkFI-G does not, significantly,
culminate in a chromatic shock-effect comparable to the Cis above it. Wolf
doubtless knew the tradition of a chromatic "surprise" at or near the
beginning of a work which then requires later formal working-out, and
he would have used the device self-consciously. What does it mean
here , in this dyad -cycle?
We do not find out until the piano introduction of Ein Stiindlein wahl
var Tag, which, like the introduction to Peregrina II, acts as a bridge
between the two songs (see p. 211 f.). Throughout the setting of stanzas
1 and 2 of Der Knabe und das Immlein, before the boy speaks to the
bee, Wolf harps on minor mode and on repetitions of the initial musical
enigmas. The piano interlude which is the corridor between the symbol-
laden initial stanzas and the boy-bee dialogue prolongs the Cl intruder
high in the treble register throughout mm. 16-17, while the echo-variant
of the principal motive is repeated three times in a row beneath
it, the chromatic pedal point all the more insistent because trilled. Fond
of pictorialism and here given licence to indulge in it by his poet,
Wolf begins a suitably beelike humming and buzzing in the piano with
the verb summt (buzzed), but perhaps he did so for a reason beyond
mere onomatopoeia. In this way, we are made to understand that
the enigmatic warnings of something ominous merge with the voice
of Nature, that the darkness foreshadowed here is part of Nature's
script. Wolf, one notices, only turns towards major mode at the last mi-
nute- in m. 19, immediately before the dialogue begins. That dialogue
is duly given all the honey-sweetness and lively motion Morike's words
demand - a riot of trilling, buzzing jubilation, a dazzle of diatonic bright-
ness in major mode - but the auguries of melancholy persist until just
before the boy speaks.
In the lament, all is made clear. The motivic echo from mm. 2 and 4 of
Der Knabe und das Immlein returns at the beginning of Ein Stiindlein wahl
var Tag, repeated three times in a row without pause or break, in the piano
We have heard similar invocations of this figure in the piano
mterlude between stanzas 2 and 3 of the first song, but now the
repeated figures are re-cast so that the four-note motive is in the
topmost voice, and therefore brought to our attention more forcefully.
The repetitions are crucial: we are thereby made to realize that the
figure is circular, that it could theoretically go on and on forever, a
snake devouring its own tail. In Der Knabe und das Immlein, the same
figure in mm. 2 and 4 stops short of completing the circle each time
while the CJs in the right-hand part and the vocal line can
understood as an attempt to bar the repetitions, to stop the circling motion
- but, ironically, the chromatic pitch also acts to emphasize the return of
the deferred pitch D when it begins the circle again. The motive
B is a broken ring, the chromatic intruder Cl a harbinger of
infidelity in a single note, while the echoed variant of that motive
originally stated on the pitches I and so on,
forms the "eternity symbol" of an unbroken ring - but the ourobouros
is contained within the lamentation interval of a diminished fourth, the
plangent "Monteverdi fourth" associated with grief from the Baroque
onward. Its shape, one notices, is a perfect circle - a whole-step in the
middle (G-Al, bounded by semitones on either side (F#-G, -
which renders impossible any sense of rootedness; although these pitches
are diatonic in a minor-mode context, the fulcrum here is the
supertonic, not the tonic, and the figure therefore never comes to rest.
Even the fact that it originally sounds as an elided echo of the broken
ring harks back to an earlier tradition of echo-laments in the wake of
love gone wrong (one thinks of the echo-lament at the beginning of act
V of Monteverdi's L'Orfea). Love and lamentation, we are told via
antique symbols, are musical kin, one proceeding from the other, the
former broken and the other unbroken, perpetual.
Wolf understood that not only is the "Stiindlein" circular, doomed to
recur in the woman's memory over and over, but that her plight belongs
to an eternal cycle, and he suggests by every means at his disposal that it
has happened before and will happen again. Part of Nature's design,
youths throughout Time will sing of love's sweetness to young women
who will succumb to them and then be abandoned. Wolf therefore
fashioned his dyad-cycle as a series of circles within circles, large and
small, broken and unbroken, cyclical recurrence the foremost
compositional determinant of the dyadic design. The circular motives in
Der Knabe und das Immlein subsequently become a circular modulating
schema in Ein Stiindlein wahl var Tag (of which, more later), spiralling
both up and down, then returning at the "end" to the song's
beginning; not only is Ein Stiindlein wahl var Tag cyclical and circular
by itself, but it recycles Der Knabe und das Immlein. In the most
revealing detail of all, the second song does not really "end", but is
instead suspended, hovering in mid-air on the dominant triad of
G minor. The D in the topmost voice of that un-final "final" harmony
is the same pitch at the same level one hears at the beginning of Der
Knabe und das Immlein - in other words, the story is poised to begin
all over again, back at the point where thoughts of seduction first enter
the picture and the ages-old tragedy of the boy and the bee, the girl and the
little swallow, is set in motion yet again. No one has a name in these two
poems, one notices, only archetypal designations as "The Boy" and "The
Sweetheart" - innumerable lads and their innumerable sweethearts from
time immemorial.
If the tragedy recurs, it is because Eros is indeed a mighty god. Wolf
understood, as did Morike before him, the beauty of desire in its early
days, and he gives that ecstasy full expression in his setting of stanzas 3
through 6 of Der Knabe und das Immlein. Not only does the key
signature change to G major at the start of the dialogue, but the lad
sings his first words, Mein Lieb hat einen Garten, to an initial leap of
a sixth (always a special gesture in Wolf) from D to B, giving the raised
third degree of major mode added emphasis, its newness all the more
sparkling after the multitudinous B 1.5 which darken the first two stanzas.
When Wolf lifts the second and third stages of the sequence in mm. 20-
23, with its parallel shifts from G major to E minor to C major
harmonies, higher each time, the listener cannot help but succumb to
the truly seductive sweetness of these strains. It is here Wolf introduces
the offbeat rhythms that will acquire, throughout the dialogue, more and
more sexual connotations, the shift upwards to a new harmonic plane in
the piano occurring each time on the second beat of the measure (mm.
21-22). Whereas the sequential passages in stanzas 1 and 2 darken,
descending for short periods of time to places with more flats and
shadows, this sequence rises (Wolf's favorite Terzensteigerung) to rest
briefly on B major and a dazzle of sharps. And so do most of the
phrases thereafter, although not via that same harmonic sequence each
time. It is one feature of this dialogue that, for all Wolf's differentiation
of the two speakers, with a frothing cascade of trills for the insect, the
boy and the bee share a common purpose. Both embody the male
principle, and both exist to make honey and to fructify women/flowers,
and therefore Wolf gives to each a harmonic progression leading from
the initial G major, a key traditionally associated with themes of
springtime and love (this is the tonality of Er ist' s) to a cadential
articulation on B major - higher, brighter, sweeter. B major, one notices,
does not appear either in the setting of stanzas 1 and 2, where
lamentation is first foreshadowed, or in Ein Stundlein wahl var Tag,
where it comes to pass. Seduction has a harmonic identity of its own,
but for all its repetitions, it is never firmly established. Desire is a
fleeting, sometime thing, not a place to set down roots and linger.
Each of the boy's two phrases in his stanza 3 question to the bee, Has
she sent you after me?>> (one thinks of Wilhelm Miiller's miller boy in Die
schone Mullerin asking in Danksagung an den Bach if the miller's lovely
daughter sent the brook to him), is based on this progression from
G major to B major (mm. 20-23, 24-27), and so are the three sections
into which the bee's reply is divided (mm. 28-35, 36-43, 44-51).
Realizing this, one also realizes that the formal structure of this dyad-
cycle is comprised of circles within circles in an ingenious pattern. The
bee's reply to the boy is a miniature A B A form - a ring or circle -
which is itself the B section of a still-bigger A B A form (extending from
mm. 20-66) created by the dialogue (boy-bee-boy), which is in turn the
B section of the largest A B A form of them all, the A sections consisting
of stanzas 1 and 2 of Der Knabe und das Immlein and the entirety of
Ein Stundlein wahl var Tag, while the dialogue constitutes the B section.
Only the bee's A B A form is perfectly symmetrical, however, each
segment divided into two phrases and the second A section the exact
length of the first; the little creature's purpose and message are clear,
contained, without the warping of proportions created by human
emotion, which swells and increases upon return. The bee's B section
(mm. 36-43) differs from its surrounding A sections not in the harmonic
progression but in the figuration for the piano: instead of bee-buzzing
trills, we hear fluttering appoggiatura motives in the high treble,
skittering figures that suggest both the insect's fluttering wings and the
playfulness of a girl barely out of school. The lad's ardor at the thought
of <<herzen und kiissen>> (by this time, the offbeat rhythms become
sexualized panting of the sort made even more explicit in Nimmersatte
Liebe) expands the returned A section of the dialogue, and the lament of
Ein Stundlein wahl var Tag is the last and largest expansion of all
(nineteen bars for stanzas 1 and 2 of the first song, thirty-nine bars for
the lament). It is the side-slipping divagation to a brief patch of
Neapolitan A ~ major harmonies in mm. 58-59 at the first invocation of
the words herzt und kiillt>> that necessitates the repetition of the last
two lines of the poem to tonic harmonies (even here, there is a small,
significant chromatic touch of darkness in the flatted sixth E at herzt),
hence the expansion of the second A section of the dialogue. More than
a momentary darkening of the music to give added weight to the verbs
at the heart of it all (especially the six-four harmony at kuflt, a harmony
associated in the Peregrina songs with longing and here emphasized by
the upward leap of a sixth in the vocal line), the side-stepping maneuver
is also premonition and veiled threat, although we cannot realize it until
the next song. A more complex enactment of the same semitone ascent,
this time from G minor to minor, is part of the formal structure of Ein
Stundlein wahl vor Tag, and we hear a foreshadowing of it here.
Wolfs lad really does know whereof he speaks when he invokes
herzen und kiissen, as the composer tells us in the postlude. It does
not require much imagination to hear in these four bars a wickedly
graphic suggestion of passion rising, reaching climax, and then subsiding
into detumescence and lassitude. Wolfs dynamic and tempo markings
tell the tale: from soft beginnings on the poet's last word ku./St, the
customary elision of the end of the texted body of the song with the
beginning of the postlude thus given sexual meaning, the music heats up
quickly to a fortissimo peak of passion, followed by dolcissimo,
diminuendo, and ritardando descent by languid degrees to quiescence
and ending. It is even possible to hear, as in Erstes Liebeslied eines
Mddchens, two different points of sexual climax suggested for the man
and the woman. The right-hand part in m. 63 (the first bar of the
postlude) is, one notes, a more fully-harmonized restatement of the lad's
words wenn man herzt und kiillt in the preceding measure- the boy's
part, which reaches climax with the downbeat of m. 64, while the
sequential chromatic swell in the inner voice suggests the woman's
passion, rising to its apex on the flatted sixth degree - the E of the
dark premonitions - at the end of that same measure. In the downward-
drifting, dying-away figures at the end (m. 65), Wolf mimics ebbing
sexual pulsations in the right-hand rhythms and then slows to a halt in
mid-measure, a gentler ending than downbeat placement for the final
tonic chord.
depiction of this sort is banished from Ein Stundlein wahl vor Tag.
Unlike many of the composers drawn to this poem, Wolf abjured all
birdlike twittering and fluttering in the piano; he realized that the
poetic persona remembers the "Stiindlein" with such intensity that
onomatopoeia from the external world has no place.
Instead, Wolf
combines rhythmic austerity with great tonal richness. Understanding
the centrality of Time to this lament, he fashions the quarter-note tactus
as if it were the ticking of an inexorable clock. It is perhaps for this
reason that Wolf runs lines 3-5 of each stanza one after the other in
unbroken succession, the refrain proceeding from the couplets before it
Ein Stiindlein wahl var Tag was almost as popular as Rasenzeit.' wie schnell varbei with
composers. See H.-J. ERWE, Muszk nach Eduard Morrke, II: Ein brbliagraphtsches V erzeichnrs
Hamburg, Karl Dieter Wagner, 1987, pp. 182-184. '
without a break, while the circular motive in the left hand maintains the
tactus during the breaks in the vocal part between lines 1 and 2 of each
stanza. Wolf pays no heed in his music to Morike's dash in the third
stanza (the symbol for the moment in which the bird flies away),
although he retains it in his song text; the poet's typographical
shorthand to evoke one kind of time co-exists with the composer's
evocation of Time in another fashion. Only twice does the quarter-note
ticking pause briefly, the first instance at the end of the piano
introduction (m. 4), where the half-note on the downbeat both
emphasizes the dissonant appoggiatura chord to the dominant seventh
and articulates the moment where wordlessness gives way to words. A
longer pause marks the end of the piano interlude between stanzas 1
and 2 (mm. 15-16), with its quarter-note beat of complete silence- the
only one in the entire song - before the swallow's words, such that one
understands the pause as emblematic of dread, as reluctance to name
the cause of this lamentation. There is no such break between stanzas 2
and 3, where grief presses hard on the heels of realization and piercing
dissonance takes the place of the former silence. No longer can the
music hold its breath and srop the clock.
"Tonal richness" is hardly an adequate phrase for Wolfs treatment of
tonality, harmony, modulation, and voice-leading in this song. I know of no
other work in the 19th century whose formal structure is predicated upon
two successive semitone modulations upward ("the Mantovani maneuver",
an irreverent theorist of my acquaintance calls it): the setting of the first
stanza begins in G minor, the second stanza in minor, the third
stanza in A minor, increasing angst impelling the music to inch upwards
by semitones.
Within each stanza, a harmonic sequence carries us from
the beginning tonality to the dominant chord of the next tonality,. the
voice-leading which produces each half-cadence reserved for the ptano
alone, never for the voice. The word day which brings betrayal is always
set as a chromatic intruder, an "outsider" in whatever context, at both
the beginnings and ends of stanzas; only in the wake of that word can
the piano at the last minute clear away the chromatic mist to reveal the
2s Was Erlkonig the source for this tonal design? The child's repeated cries <<Mein Vater,
mein also rise a semitone higher each rime, while the bone-Jarnng tone cluster at
beginning of each cry seems a forebear of Wolfs <<0 weh! _. .. 0 still!>> in stanza 3 of Em
Stiindlein wahl var Tag. Schubert's jolt upwards from D mrnor to repeated E, harmorues
when the Erlking proclaims <<lch Iiebe dich was possibly revised by Wolf as the duectJve
Flieg' ah, and the two songs even share the same G mmor tonality.
new dominant triad. Because that triad emerges at the end of a "travelling''
progression, we cannot yet know it as a new dominant, and therefore the
new tonic which follows comes as a shock. The sequence within each
stanza, however, sinks downward by whole-tones, touching upon
F minor, major, and major chords in the first stanza (mm. 9-10)
and Fi minor, E major, and D major chords in the second stanza (mm.
21-22), before repeating the lamentation-circular motive from the
beginning of the stanza transposed to a new level. Each stanza is thus
circular, but circular by s pi r a 1 s which move downward and upward
simultaneously in stanzas 1 and 2. In the final stanza, Wolf breaks the
pattern so that the music can return to the dominant of G minor at the
end, the spiral broken at the point where the bird is told to fly away.
Wolf, perhaps spooked by his great predecessors, shied away from
labelling these two songs as a cycle or a pair, but they are just that and
should be performed as such. When Wolf put together poems the poet
conceived separately, he made of the two songs cause-and-effect; the
crucial moments in the trajectory of love, so says this foreshortened plot,
are the moments when desire is first made known and when one or the
other lover recognizes the fact of betrayal. The ways in which Wolf knits
these songs together vie with ancient Celtic ornamentation for the
number of interlacing strands; if many of those strands are familiar
musical gestures ("wrong-note" intrusions, major mode vs minor mode,
ring figures, and the like), that is perhaps only appropriate to the
subject, in which one of the oldest scripts of all is made new again.
RlASSUNTO - Tra i primi componimenti poetici eli Morike che Hugo
Wolf musico nd 1888 figurano Der Knabe und das Immlein e Ein Stundlein wahl
var Tag, composti in un sol giorno (22 febbraio 1888). Queste due rime- il elia-
logo tra un'ape ed un giovane che spasima per una scolaretta, e illamento d'una
ragazza appena abbandonata dall' amante - eran state concepite da Morike come
entita separate, rna Wolf le collega musicalmente e le pubblica di seguito nel suo
libro eli Lieder su testo eli Morike nel1891. Perle prime due strofe eli Der Knabe
und das l mmlein, onuste eli simboli, Wolf escogita una figura circolare, iscritta en-
tro una quarta diminuita, un po' "montevereliana": ineli costruisce Ein Stundlein
wahl var Tag per intero su reiterazioni e trasposizioni della stessa figura. ll saggio
illustra in particolare il ricorso ad una simbologia erotica eli conio classico da parte
eli Morike, e il senso della relazione che Wolf deve aver colto tra i due componi-
menti, nel cavarne - eli fatto se non eli nome - un minuscolo ciclo bipartito.
Der Knabe und das Imml ein.
MiiBig, zart.
(l - )
Im Weln- berg auf der
wtn - de- bang; ha.t we- der Tiir
= =--
t:::: :::::,
"' Und 1st der Tag so
Ho- - he
noch Fen -
22. F'ebruar 1888
eln Hiius - leln steht so
c:::_ :::::::,
ster, die Wei- le wird lhm



schwii - le, sind ver-stummt die

...... . ...
tJ _-.!(
J .

Ex. 1 _HuGO WOLF, Der Knabe und das Immlein, _ r. 2 in von. Eduard !vforjke -
Reproduced from Samtliche Werke, I, ed. H. Jancik, rev. L W1en,
schaftlicher Verlag, 1963, 1994 (by courtesy of Musikwissenschaftlicher Verlag, W len)
et was bewegter
Yo - ge - lein
summt a.n der
Son - nen - btu - - me eln
lmm-l ein ga.nz_ Ll -
[tT neln, du fei K-;;-a - be, es hleB mlch nle - ma.nd
l ': . .J .J .)\ .J .J .J .)\ , .J j,, J Ji
1 I
fr tr
II #.J #J
- t - s

r r r r
- - -
-== ""=- --== "=-

. 11 11
tJ Bo - - - ten_ g ehn; dies Kind weiB nichts von


"1 J "1 I
tiei. ha.t ei- nen Ga.r - ten, da. stehi eln hub..sches Im - '!'en- haus '

t- 0

1111 ,.,
tJ . 77 .... 711 I
I o

... I
.. r
Lie - - ben, h&t -dlch noch ll:anm ge - sehn. Wa.s
l r.: . -. .J .)\ I
, poco rit. II.
1\ . I I
tr 1 r I I
ll:ommst dn d&-her ge- flo - - gen?
schiclrt sfe dlch n&ch mir __
lil' wiifl _ - - ten a.uch die Mad . chen, wenn sle
8 ---!
alempo _ .
..-... JoiiOI.
,...... ",...-
pp C$clterzando}
Ex. 1 - Continuation. f
Ex. 1 - Continuation.
, jj
kaum a4s der Schu - - - le s ind ' Dein
eln ga.n - zes Pfund; wfe wlrd da.s Schatz- chen
" ,......... _,...-.. ..---. ----- . A ----- .. ;-;._

ltJ v - =
, u ; 1 I J .h
-t} L...--- I T "I
herz - - a.l - ler- lieh - - sles _ Schatz . . . chen
,...--... ..

. '--,
Ia.- chen,_ ibm w&s -
serl schon der Ach,
f f
8 .......................................... - ............ - ............................. - .. - .......................................... ,
/111 ll:p ilj ll=/i j i ilj t. J.
poco rit. tempo
i '
1st noch efn Mut - - ter - lr.lnd .
)I tr.--
'-' I
r I 1=1
u tempo pp
woll - test du lhr S&. - gen, lch wii!l-te, wa.s vie! sii - !ler ist: nlchls

Ich bring' Ibm Wachs

ich Ho - nfg; .. - - de !

/ljj ilj i _J=i; )l:p
"' p J

.J J .J
r J
.i/ J 11
, jj
a tempo
I 1-.
tJ ..,;y. ..,; + -.t -.t -.t ..,; ... .. !1.... '1.. 7-
p pp -
p ::::=-
I I I 1-. I I I I J _})
J J 1
r r
Ex. 1 - Continuation.
Ex. 1 - Continuation.
Er - - den, als wimn man herzl und kiillt !
poco rit.
Lleb - 11- chers auf Er - -den, als wenn ma.n herzt_ und_ kiillt !

Ex. 1- End.




Ein Stiindlein wohl vor Tag.

T:I:J JY:?:J

r .
r .
rit. - -


22. Februar 1888
Der -

wen ich schlafend lag, eln Stiindleln wohl vor Tag, sang vor dem Fen-ster
__ _ ,
--.1 r-

....._ --=o
....._ -== ,. ===-- --
hiirt' es kaum,ein StiiDdlein wahl vor Tag:
, HOrl a.n, was ich dir dein ich ver -
...-;-[ I I ;..I ....-- -
p -= ==--
. -=::.

Ex. 2 - HuGO WoLF, Bin Stiindlein wahl vor Tag, Nr. 3 in Gedichte von Eduard Manke-
Reproduced from Siimtliche Werke, I, ed. H. Jancik, rev. L. Spitzer, Wien, Musikwissen-
schaftlicher Verlag, 1963, 1994 (by courtesy of Musikwissenschaftlicher Verlag, Wien) .
lda.g': der- well lch dle-ses sin-gen er einLiebln gu-ter Ruh',eln
_/1 _L >
S\iind-lein wohl vor Tag." 0 weh! nich\ wel-\er sag'! 0
I) l!i'I!J II ..

- ==-
. l
..... __
L p
I) >
- - -
i tl
still! nidlb ho-ren mag! Flleg' a.b, flleg' &b von mei-n-Ba.umLAdl,Liebund Treu'is\
fJ I
.. - #

p "- }I

n . i -....
_it r:'l
wie ein Tr&WD ein Stiind- lein wohl vor Tag.
I) J -----1 --1 I I
tl I I
tl 'l ' <J.
-= "===-
u ,.

Ex. 2- End.
Cambridge, Mass.
Wherever we look in musicology, as in parallel fields of enquiry in our time,
polarities and confrontations abound. Some of these concern broad questions that
have arisen over several decades in every branch of the humanities. They include
questions of methodology in scholarship, especially problems entailed in the
quests for meanings of works of art seen less as independent or as
moments of significant experience, and more as products shaped by aesthetic
and cultural viewpoints of the past or present - or even the two in interaction.
Issues of ideology are now afoot on every side, often involving situations in
which works of scholarship dealing with historically or socially conditioned
contexts are judged sound or unsound depending on the degree of overt
commitment they profess to a political agenda. In such situations one side often
seems determined to keep scholarship as nearly free of current political agendas
as possible (fearing its conversion into propaganda); the other side (if there is
only one "other", which is doubtful) sees ideology as an ineluctable essence of
all intellectual work, and is bound to the belief that all scholarship is the
product of politically and ideologically motivated authors. The situation is
complex and, in the eyes of many, difficult. Yet the fact remains that the
persistence of the polarities does not seem to be preventing healthy strides from
being made in every conceivable branch of the vast field we call 'musicology' .
This is partly because there seem to be various kinds of practitioners, certainly
including the following:
(1) Warriors, defined as those who support a particular program of intellectual
activity regarding music and take a heavily polemical view of what their colleagues
do, especially those whom they believe to be misguided. They write books and
articles denouncing them. Everyone will have their own lists of such
practitioners, for the population is already large and is increasing, but it would
not take much research to identify a few; among them I could name the
practitioners of the "new musicology" - of which the "new" aspects are largely