Songs of Travel
Songs of Travel
Fanny Hensel’s Wanderings
The impact of gender on freedom is vividly conveyed by Fanny Hensel’s letter to her cousin Marianne from the Saint Gotthard Pass in 1822, on a family trip: I spent a day . . . I’ll keep forever in my heart, and will remember with emotion for a long time to come. . . . [I] was observing, on the Italian border, the finest, most gracious, and pleasant scene that man can imagine when destiny cried out to me: so far, and no further! . . . If I had been a young lad of sixteen yesterday, my God! I would have had to fight against committing some great folly.” As Felix’s career acquired an international perspective, Fanny craved his descriptions of foreign parts. The motif of travel was threaded through her life—whether as reality, dream, or vicarious experience. Also threaded through her life was her production of songs belonging to the categories of “songs of travel,” portraying journeying, wandering, and remote locations, whether reached or imagined. Immersed in such texts, Hensel was free to “travel” in her mind’s eye. This chapter offers close analytical and critical readings of the words and music of songs such as Hensel’s “Schwanenlied,” Op. 1, No. 1, “Gondellied,” Op. 1, No. 6, and “Bergeslust,” Op. 10, No. 5, in an effort to illuminate how the Lied (as a small, apparently enclosed genre) allowed Hensel to widen the horizons beyond her enclosed life.
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