Classical Music | Baritone

Franz Schubert

Der Schiffer  Play

Thomas Meglioranza Baritone
Reiko Uchida Piano

Recorded on 10/12/2004, uploaded on 01/10/2009

Musician's or Publisher's Notes

Franz Schubert’s Der Schiffer (“The Boatman”) is a setting of a poem by his close friend Johann Mayrhofer. Better known for the pessimistic tone of his other works, Mayrhofer’s poem is unabashedly defiant and heroic. The boatman, in his creaking ship, fights against the wind and storm as he travels up the river. The waves beat against the ship as the rocks and reef pose an ever-present danger. Yet, the boatman would have it no other way and does not regret the dangerous path that he has chosen. The poem ends with the image of the boatman standing confidently and defiantly as the water rages around him.

Schubert’s setting, in the heroic key of E-flat major, is mainly strophic. The vocal melody, confident and muscular like the boatman himself, is set against a lively accompaniment of sixteenth notes depicting the wild scene of the poem. In each of the first three stanzas, turbulence arises on the third line when the left hand of the accompaniment, an octave below the voice, chromatically meanders around the dominant of B-flat. In the final stanza, the turbulence is shifted to the last line and an additional four measures leading up the B-flat major scale is inserted on the line “die Nerven erfrischend, o himmlische Lust” (“Refreshing the nerves—o heavenly joy”). This interjection is the most significant musical change made during the four stanzas of Mayrhofer’s poem and marks the climax of the song. In the midst of tumultuous waters, the boatman has found his “heavenly joy.”      Joseph DuBose

Der Schiffer     Franz Schubert

Im Winde, im Sturme befahr ich den Fluß,

Die Kleider durchweichet der Regen im Guß;

Ich peitsche die Wellen mit mächtigem Schlag,

Erhoffend, erhoffend mir heiteren Tag.

Die Wellen, sie jagen das ächzende Schiff,

Es drohet der Strudel, es drohet das Riff.

Gesteine entkollern den felsigen Höh'n,

Und Tannen erseufzen wie Geistergestöhn.

So mußte es kommen, ich hab es gewollt,

Ich hasse ein Leben behaglich entrollt;

Und schlängen die Wellen den ächzenden Kahn,

Ich priese doch immer die eigene Bahn.

Drum tose des Wassers ohnmächtiger Zorn,

Dem Herzen entquillet ein seliger Born,

Die Nerven erfrischend - o himmliche Lust,

Dem Sturme zu trotzen mit männlicher Brust.

--Johann Baptist Mayhofer

The Boatman

In wind and storm I traverse the river,

My clothes soaked through with the downpour;

I lash the waves with powerful blows,

Hoping, hoping for a fine day.

The waves, they drive the creaking ship,

The whirlpool threatens, as does the reef.

Rocks roll furiously down from the craggy heights,

And firtrees sigh like lamenting ghosts.

So it must be, and so have I willed it:

I hate a life that unrolls comfortably;

Even were the waves to swallow this creaking boat,

I would still ever praise the path I have chosen!

So let the water roar with impotent rage;From my heart springs forth a blissful fountain,

Refreshing the nerves - o heavenly joy,

I stand against the tempest with a defiant chest.

--Johann Baptist Mayhofer