Schmetterlingslieder - (2009)    
Karl Frfiedrich Henckell

for soprano and piano




Goldne Sterne, blaue Glöckchen,
Wieviel wonnevolle Kelche!
Welche Schimmerpracht, ach, welche
Samtenen und seidnen Röckchen!
Blaue Glöckchen, goldne Sterne,
Tausend Blüten seh ich winken,
Weiche Blüten nah und ferne,
Nur aus einer sollt ich trinken?
Daß ich das doch nimmer lerne! …
Goldne Sterne …
Blaue Glöckchen …




Schwebe, du Schmetterling,
Schwebe vorbei!
Leben ist leichtes Ding,
Fühlst du dich frei.

Leben ist Windeshauch,
Welt ist w ie Gras,
Säuseln im Haselstrauch,
Elfischer Spaß.

Rot ist das Heidekraut,
Grün ist der Klee,
Himmel, so weit er blaut,
Goldheller See.

Schwebe, du Schmetterling,
Schwebe vorbei!
Über die Blumen schwing
Hoch dich, juchhei!

[ 6 pages, circa 5' 40" ]

Karl Friedrich Henckell


These "Butterfly Songs" celebrate that creature, and by it also the time of year in which it appears in the poet's savory images of color, light and airiness. For more on the Karl Henckell, please see my setting of Winterweihe.



Gilt golden stars, tiny azure bells,
How many wondrous goblets!
What gleaming splendor, oh, what
Velvet and silken garments!
Tiny azure bells, gilt golden stars,
A thousand winking blossoms to be seen,
Soft-pointed blooms near and far,
But out of which shall I sip?
Oh that I might never learn more!...
Gilt golden stars....
Tiny azure bells...


Tinkling in the opposing hands ringing out a tonic major chord define the the character of the setting. The vocal line is lyrical and expansive, with rubati suggested by the absence of a rhythmic motor beneath the opening phrases. At the mention of these "thousand winking blossoms," the vocal line rises to its highest point.



Flutter by, you butterfly,
Flutter on past!
Life is such an airy thing,
To make you feel so free.

Life is the wind's own breath,
The world is like the grass,
Whispers in the hazel shrub,
An elfin joy.

Red is the heather,
Green is the clover,
The heavens, so broadly colored,
Is a bright golden sea.

Flutter by, you butterfly,
Flutter on past!
Linger over the blossoms
To celebrate, hurrah.


The second setting slips up one half-step from the previous F major, as the right hand's filigree traces a set of small arches to paint the fluttering of flight in periodic rapid movements. The vocal line comments on the movement and the movement comments in answer to each vocal line with another "flight" of the same kinds of the imagery-laden and fleeting filigree. As with the first text, color plays a central part alongside movement.



The score for Schmetteringslieder 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.