Franz Schreker: Vom ewigen Leben

Franz Schreker Vom ewigen Leben
Vom ewigen Leben

Franz Schreker: Vom ewigen Leben

Year of composition:
Scored for:
for soprano and orchestra
Franz Schreker
Text author:
Walt Whitman
2 3 3 2 - 4 2 3 0 - timp, perc(3), hp, cel, harm, sax, str
Instrumentation details:
1st flute (+picc)
2nd flute (+picc)
1st oboe
2nd oboe
3rd oboe (+c.a)
1st clarinet in A (+cl(Bb))
2nd clarinet in A (+cl(Bb))
bass clarinet in Bb
tenor saxophone in Bb (+alto sax(Eb))
1st bassoon
2nd bassoon
1st horn in F
2nd horn in F
3rd horn in F
4th horn in F
1st trumpet in C
2nd trumpet in C
1st trombone
2nd trombone
3rd trombone
violin I
violin II
Table of contents:
: Wurzeln und Halme sind dies nur
: Das Gras
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Vom ewigen Leben

The complete perusal score (PDF-preview)

Work introduction

Schreker's last songs, written in 1923, were two „lyrische Gesänge" on texts drawn from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass completed late in 1923. The Whitman songs are by any standard extraordinary works which, taken together - as they must be - more closely resemble a lyric cantata than the traditional Lied. Perhaps recognizing as much, Schreker avoided the question of genre in his 1927 orchestration of the work and simply titled the piece Vom ewigen Leben. This work occupies a world apart from Schreker's previous songs and operas. Perhaps stylistically closest to Carlotta's ecstatic monologues in Die Gezeichneten, the Whitman songs are remarkable for the exceptionally pliant vocal writing, the subtle interplay of lines between voice and accompaniment, and the masterful shaping of the whole, including Schreker's judicious adaptation of the text which is drawn from Hans Reisinger's elegant 1922 translation of the Whitman verses.

Although Schreker would write music more dissonantly „atonal", no other of his works more convincingly maps out the terrain beyond late-Romantic chromaticism and toward a new, modally inflected tonal harmony. The Whitman songs, an isolated miracle with no antecedent or successor in Schreker's oeuvre, belong to the most exquisite lyric expressions of the twentieth-century literature and bring to a luminous climax his own richly rewarding body of lyric works.

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Vom ewigen Leben

Franz Schreker: Vom ewigen Leben

for soprano and orchestra , 20’
Instr.: 2 3 3 2 - 4 2 3 0 - timp, perc(3), hp, cel, harm, sax, str

World première

Leipzig (DE)
Leipziger Konzertverein
Hermann Scherchen
Main soloists:
Clara Wirz-Wyss

Press reviews

From the reviews of the world premiere:

„... this is a new kind of orchestral song which could best be described as a solo cantata. It is marked by the greatest imaginable plasticity of musical declamation in the solo voice and a sonorous but never over-scored treatment of the orchestra. A piece such as only a master could have composed."

Leipziger Neueste Nachrichten

„... the sensuous sound world has a striking sophistication conjured from the orchestra by a composer with a limitless knowledge of instrumentation."

Leipziger Volkszeitung

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