Sonett der Seele - (2018)     

Hugo von Hofmannsthal

for soprano and piano


Willensdrang von tausend Wesen
Wogt in uns vereint, verklärt:
Feuer loht und Rebe gärt
Und sie locken uns zum Bösen.

Tiergewalten, kampfbewährt,
Herrengaben, auserlesen,
Eignen uns und wir verwesen
Einer Welt ererbten Wert.

Wenn wir unsrer Seele lauschen,
Hören wirs wie Eisen klirren,
Rätselhafte Quellen rauschen,

Stille Vögelflüge schwirren ...
Und wir fühlen uns verwandt
Weltenkräften unerkannt.

4 pages, circa 4' 00"


Sonnet of the soul

The life force of thousands
Arises united in us, transfigured:
Fires rage, and the fruited vines ferment,
Enticing us towards temptations.

Brutish forces, battle-hardened,
Human masteries, exquisite,
They are ours, as we administer
A world of inherited value.

When we listen to our soul,
We hear it ring like iron,
Enigmatic sources rushing,

Silent bird flights are buzzing ...
And we feel entwined with
Undiscovered worldly powers.


unrhymed paraphrase of the composer

Copyright © 2018   Gary Bachlund




The late Romanticism of the arts was marked by certain excess, as words, sounds and stories after the Enlightenment pulled in a less reasoned, more feeling-filled direction. This sonnet speaks to all stories as of us, from the anthropomorphic to the ideation of mixed imagery prior to the later games of surrealism, expressionism and nihilism which follow in quick succession. 


The sonnet purports of speak of man's soul. Atavistic and shared, the very human challenges of balancing good against evil are twisted together into a rising force. For this, the setting in 7/8 throughout is of alternating 3's and 4's in groupings, a recommended rubato to allow for the widely spaced chords which occur in the left hand especially. The eight note ticking off this held-back temp and blurred harmonies of the accompaniment in general should create a darkened mood, with the final play off proceeding as the voice becomes mute.




The score for Sonett der Seele 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.


Sonett der Seele