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David Berry

12/7/2015
MUS 319
Dr. Julie Wieck

Du Bist Wie Eine Blume

The original poem, Du Bist Wie Eine Blume, was written in 1823 by Christian
Johann Heinrich Heine (December 13, 1797 February 17, 1856). Heine was a German
poet whose international literary reputation and influence was established by the Buch
der Lieder (1827; Book of Songs), frequently set to music, though the more somber
poems of his last years are also highly regarded. Du Bist Wie Eine Blume was set to
music both by Robert Schumann and Franz Liszt. The setting by Schumann is the more
popular and well-known work. It was set for his fianc, Clara Wieck-(Schumann). This
song was considered to be one of his finest works. Lesser known is the setting by Franz
Liszt, especially since Liszt was not known best for writing songs or especially setting
poetry.
Franz Liszt, (October 22, 1811 July 31, 1886) was a virtuoso pianist, composer,
and teacher born in Hungary. By the time he was nine year old, he was already on the
road traveling as a concert pianist. He continued touring Europe and performing in the
finest concert halls through most of his life. Once his skills were discovered in Vienna,
Antonio Salieri, Mozart's old rival, offered to teach him composition. Before long, he had
written over 700 compositions most of which were piano works. Influenced by an
unsettling personal life, his piano music is extremely difficult and virtuosic. Unlike the
piano music, his setting of Du Bist Wie Eine Blume is quite melancholy and relative
simple, compositionally speaking.

Harmonically, this mostly diatonic song begins and ends in Eb-major. The
harmony is found mostly within the key, but there are hints of secondary dominants and
modal mixture. As a short form of rounded binary, the B section smoothly moves to and
tonicizes the IV, Ab-major. A simple piano accompaniment provides the base for the
light texture on top of which the melody floats. Built in eight bar phrases, the melody
employs the use of some large skips of fourths, fifths, and sixths. Each individual phrase
uses a range of at least an octave, if not more.

Poetically, Du Bist Wie Eine Blume is extremely complex. Most of the


technical poetic terminology goes over my head, but essentially the poem is about a fair
maiden whom Im madly in love with. This sublime, and purely beautiful woman is so
elegant and graceful and I want nothing but for her to remain that way. I am sad and
yearning to be with her, but I know that God will rest His hands on her hair and keep her
so pure and sweet and fair.
Translation:

Du bist wie eine Blume,


You are so like a flower

So hold und schn und rein;


So fair and pure and fine

Ich schau' dich an, und Wehmut


I gaze on you and sadness

Schleicht mir ins Herz hinein.


Steals through the hear of mine

Mir ist, als ob ich die Hnde


It is, as though I should gently

Aufs Haupt dir legen sollt',


Lay hands upon your hair,

Betend, da Gott dich erhalte


Praying, dear God that He keep you

So rein und schn und hold.


So fine and pure and fair.

You are so like a flower,


So fair and pure and fine;
I gaze on you, and sadness
Steals through the heart of mine.
It is, as though I should gently
Lay hands upon your hair,
Praying to God, that He keep you
So fine and pure and fair.

(tr. by Rolf-Peter Wille)