Der Tod


Der Tod - (2012)   

Heinrich Heine

for medium voice and piano


Der Tod, das ist die kühle Nacht,
Das Leben ist der schwüle Tag.
Es dunkelt schon, mich schläfert,
Der Tag hat mich müd gemacht.

Über mein Bett erhebt sich ein Baum,
Drin singt die junge Nachtigall;
Sie singt von lauter Liebe -
Ich hör es sogar im Traum.

2 pages, circa 2' 40"

Heinrich Heine


Death, this is the cool night;
Life is an oppressive day.
It darkens now; I grow weary,
The day has tired me.

Above my bed towers a tree,
And in it sings the young nightingale;
It sings aloud of love -
I hear it even as in a dream.





The text is found in Heine's Buch der Lieder, Die Heimkehr, and normally given the title of its first line, "Der Tod, das ist die kühle Nacht." The setting rises out of a static and pianissimo E flat major, which turns chromatic in one large arch, down then higher. Each two lines of the first strophe is thus accompanied, the second arch transposed and in a fauxbourdon.



The second verse moves into G major, this time the vocal line begins earlier and over the static tonic major, with a raised fourth as a slight change in coloration. The confluence of notions of death and dream is reflected in the final cadence, leaning momentarily from E flat back to G major.



The score for Der Tod 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.


Der Tod