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Studies in Music with Text$
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David Lewin

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195182088

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195182088.001.0001

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Auf einer Burg

Auf einer Burg

(p.169) Chapter Nine Auf einer Burg
Studies in Music with Text

David Lewin

Oxford University Press

Warrior knights are, among other things, supposed to rescue damsels in distress. But the old knight in Joseph Eichendorff's poem Auf einer Burg is oblivious to the damsel in distress who passes by literally under his nose. The time is out of joint—as the music is perhaps remarking via the syncopations in its C major episodes. The bride appears to be distressed, in one way or another. The ending of the poem does not explain whether her tears are tears of joy. We are clearly meant to be shocked and brought up short by a sense of puzzlement about the ending—literally, about the last word. The sense of uncertainty that we feel in this connection is, this chapter soon argues, projected strongly by the music of Robert Schumann's setting. The poem is laden with sharp antitheses. This chapter proposes such a contrast, specifically an antithesis between “ancient” e-Phrygian modality and “modern” functional a-minor tonality. The role of the piano interlude sheds considerable light on the effect of Schumann's strophic setting.

Keywords:   Joseph Eichendorff, poem, Auf einer Burg, Robert Schumann, setting, music, modality, tonality, antitheses, piano

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