Thursday, October 13, 2016

HALLOWEEN: Der Erlkönig

As promised last week, here is another piece of art music that I listen to every Halloween: "Der Erlkönig," a song for voice and piano composed by Franz Schubert (Op. 1, 1821) on a poem by Goethe (1782). The lyrics deal with the supernatural kidnapping of a young boy the Erlking, the king of the fairies, a figure of Danish and German folklore. I don't know much about the video here, except that the baritone is the great Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. I think he does an excellent job with a harder piece, which has four distinct voices to it: the poem's narrator, the boy being abducted and begging for help, his determined father who is riding hard to save the lad, and the Erlking himself, who attempting to calm and seduce the boy as he rides away with him. The piano, with its rapid, galloping triplets, is striking and exciting. This is another piece, like last week's Danse macabre, that lives as an animation in my head.

You can read the original text of the poem (in German and in English) on its Wikipedia page. The musical setting is striking and exciting, and it's a Halloween favorite.

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