Kindertotenlieder

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Kindertotenlieder (Songs on the Death of Children) is a song cycle for voice and orchestra by Gustav Mahler. The words of the songs are poems by Friedrich Rückert.

The original Kindertotenlieder were a group of 425 poems written by Rückert in 183334 in an outpouring of grief after two of his children had died in an interval of sixteen days. Mahler selected five of the Rückert poems to set as lieder, which he composed between 1901 and 1904:

  1. "Nun will die Sonn' so hell aufgeh'n."
  2. "Nun seh' ich wohl, warum so dunkle Flammen."
  3. "Wenn dein Mütterlein."
  4. "Oft denk' ich, sie sind nur ausgegangen."
  5. "In diesem Wetter!"

The songs are written in Mahler's late-Romantic idiom, and the mood and feeling they express is very much what their title implies. The final song ends in a major key and a mood of transcendence.

The poignance of the cycle is increased by the fact that, four years after he wrote it, Mahler did indeed lose his daughter Maria, aged 4, to scarlet fever. He wrote to Guido Adler: "I placed myself in the situation that a child of mine had died. When I really lost my daughter, I could not have written these songs any more."

Scoring and performance

The work is scored for a vocal soloist (the notes lie comfortably for a baritone or mezzo-soprano) and an orchestra consisting of 2 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn (cor anglais), 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, harp, glockenspiel, timpani, and the usual string section of first and second violins, violas, cellos, and double basses.

The composer wrote concerning the performance of the work "These five songs are intended as one inseparate unit, and in performing them their continuity should not be interfered with."

The Kindertotenlieder were premiered in Vienna on January 29 1905. Friedrich Weidemann was the soloist, and the composer conducted.

The work takes about 20 minutes to perform.

External links

ja:亡き子をしのぶ歌 nl:Kindertotenlieder

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