Ein kleines Lied - (2009)
Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach
for medium voice and piano
Ein kleines Lied, wie geht's nur an,
Daß man so lieb es haben kann,
Was liegt darin? Erzähle!
Es liegt darin ein wenig Klang,
Wohllaut und Gesang
Und eine ganze Seele.
[ 1 page, circa 1' 15" ]
Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach
A little song, how does it take shape,
that one can love it so well?
Of what is it made? Say!
It is made of some sound,
sound and singing
and all of the feeling of one's soul.
Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach (1830-1916) remains perhaps as Austria's best
known female author. Noted for her psychological novels, she is regarded
together with Ferdinand von Saar as among the most important German-language
writers of the late 19th century. She was born to minor royalty as Countess
Dubsky in Moravia, and began writing in her childhood, an disapproved
activity for a nobility. Her best known works take as their subjects
provincial Moravia and the urban life of the petit bourgeoisie and minor
noble classes in Vienna.
She wrote detailed accounts of the daily routines
of the "little man and woman." The plots are often based on the author's
memories of her youth. Her story anthology, Dorf- und Schlossgeschichten
(1883), included tales of provincial Moravia. She concluded that her own
noble class was at fault for the poverty of the peasant farmers. She
described social injustice, but she focused on the goodness that could be
found in representatives of every social class, and believed that inherent
human goodness would eventually overcome adversity. Her historical plays
were less successful than her realistic novels and short stories. Her works
won general acclaim only after 1874 and the changes in national politics
which had earlier banned her work.
In 1900 she was awarded an honorary
doctorate from the University of Vienna, the first to be awarded a woman,
and died, during World War I, a respected member of Austria's literary
She is credited with some wise aphorisms which stand well the test of time,
among them: "Those who understand only what can be explained understand very
little." And also: "To be content with little is hard; to be content with
The structure of the setting reflects the essential break in the rhyme
scheme, a-a-b-c-c-b, such that the underlying accompaniment is a palindrome
of sorts, in two repetitions. It drops from the higher tessitura to the
exact next two measures an octave lower and then rises by the same kind of
repetition ending at measure 8, and beginning again thereafter. A small coda
adds the title of the poem as its last line.
The score for Ein kleines Lied is available as a free PDF download,
though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is
prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic
below for this piano-vocal score.
Ein kleines Lied