Die Stadt


Die Stadt - (2009)    

Theodor Storm

for medium voice and piano


Am grauen Strand, am grauen Meer
und seitab liegt die Stadt;
der Nebel drückt die Dächer schwer
und durch die Stille braust das Meer
eintönig um die Stadt.

Es rauscht kein Wald, es schlägt im Mai
kein Vogel ohn' Unterlaß:
die Wandergans mit hartem Schrei
nur fliegt in Herbstesnacht vorbei,
am Strande weht das Gras.

Doch hängt mein ganzes Herz an dir,
du graue Stadt am Meer;
der Jugend Zauber für und für
ruht lächelnd doch auf dir, auf dir,
du graue Stadt am Meer.

[ 3 pages, circa 3' 10" ]

Theodor Storm


At the grey shore by the grey sea
and apart, lies the city;
mists push down hard on the roofs
and through the quiet the sea booms
uniformly about the city.

No wood murmurs; in May, no bird
chirps without intermission;
only the migrating geese with harsh cries
fly by in the autumn night;
and by the shore the grass ripples.

Yet my heart clings to you,
you grey city by the sea;
forever and forever the magic of youth
will rest smilingly upon you; upon you,
you grey city by the sea.

Translation from German to English copyright © by Emily Ezust



Much of Storm's work is tinged with looking backwards in time, to youth flown and to that which never could be or would never again be. The text is filled with references to sounds -- of the sea, the geese, breeze through the grass. Even so, the sense of color is uniform and gray, such that the city's memories must also carry this coloration, yielding a different sound. Melancholy, perhaps? Sorrow? Lost chances? This "magic of youth" might lie over the image, but the image is more than gray by nature and surroundings. For this there is a uniformity of sorts in the accompaniment, as the three verses, though treated differently, reference the same tonal region with some but little alteration. A sharp moving to A natural in the opening gestures embodies this sense of the "gray."



The score for Die Stadt 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.


Die Stadt