Classical Music | Baritone

Robert Schumann

Die Beiden Grenadiere  Play

Quinn Kelsey Baritone
William Hobbs Piano

Recorded on 04/06/2005, uploaded on 03/21/2009

Musician's or Publisher's Notes

Die Beiden Grenadiere       Robert Schumann 

Part of Schumann's second volume of Romanzen und Balladen and based on a Heine poem, "Der Beiden Grenadiere" ("The Two Grenadiers") is one of Schumman's most famous songs. Heine's inspiration for the poem came from witnessing the return of captured French soldiers from Napoleon's campaign in Russia.

"Der Beiden Grenadiere" shows Schumann's at his best as a ballad composer. After facing much criticism of "Taucher" and "Einsamkeit," Schumann concentrated his efforts in "Der Beiden Grenadier" to create a tightly unified artistic whole, stripped of any excess material. It is through-composed with recurring melodic motifs to give it a greater sense of unity. The overall setting of the Heine's poem is march-like and militant. Like many other composers, Schumann was fond of the tune "Marseillaise," adopted as the French national anthem in 1795. The march tune makes a brief appearance toward the end of the poem when the grenadier remembers his promise to offer defense from beyond the grave.

By Heinrich Heine

To France were marching two Grenadiers
who had been captured in Russia.
And when they came into German lands,
they hung their heads in shame. 

And here they learned the sorry tale
that France was lost forever,
her valiant army beaten and smashed,
and the Emperor, the Emperor captured!

The grenadiers then wept together,
hearing these pitiful tidings.
One said, "Ah, the agony,
my wound is a blaze of fire."

The other said, "This is the end,
and gladly I'd die with you,
but I've a wife and child at home,
who without me will perish."

"To hell with wife, to hell with child,
my thoughts are for things far higher;
let them beg, if they've nothing to eat-
my Emperor, my Emperor captured!

"Grant me, brother, one request:
if I am now to die,
take my body to France with you,
bury me in French soil.

"The cross of honor on its red ribbon
you shall lay upon my heart;
my musket give me in my hand,
and buckle my saber on me.

"And so will I, quiet, lie and listen,
like a sentinel in my grave,
until I hear the cannons' roar,
the whinny and thunder of horses.

"Then will my Emperor ride over my grave,
swords will be clashing and flashing;
and armed, I'll rise up from the grave-
to guard my Emperor, my Emperor!"