Music and Texts of Gary Bachlund


Vier kleine Lieder - (2010)     

Johann Wolfgang Goethe

for mezzo soprano and piano

Katharina Kammerloher gewidmet

i.  Die klare Welt - [ 2 pages, circa 2' 45" ]

Wie im Auge mit fliegenden Mücken,
So ist's mit Sorgen ganz genau;
Wenn wir in die schöne Welt hinein blicken,
Da schwebt ein Spinneweben-Grau;
Es überzieht nicht, es zieht nur vorüber,
Das Bild ist gestört, wenn nur nicht trüber;
Die klare Welt bleibt klare Welt:
Im Auge nur ist's schlecht bestellt.

ii.  Nichts - [ 2 pages, circa 1'00" ]

Nichts wird rechts und links mich kränken,
Folg ich kühn dem raschen Flug;
Wollte jemand anders denken,
Ist der Weg ja breit genug.

iii. Einheit - [ 2 pages, circa 1' 20" ]

Einheit ewigen Lichts zu spalten,
Müssen wir für törig halten,
Wenn euch Irrtum schon genügt.
Hell und Dunkel, Licht und Schatten,
Weiß man klüglich sie zu gatten,
Ist das Farbenreich besiegt.

iv. An Gottes Thron - [ 2 pages, circa 2' 30" ]

Nachts, wann gute Geister schweifen,
Schlaf dir von der Stirne streifen,
Mondenlicht und Sternenflimmern
Dich mit ewigem All umschimmern,
Scheinst du dir entkörpert schon,
Wagest dich an Gottes Thron.

[ 8 pages, circa 7' 35" ]

Johann Wolfgang Goethe


Among the enormous number of poems written by Goethe, late in life he penned what he and Schiller named as Zahme Xenien, or "taming" epigrams. These were meant to be illustrative or instructive in some way, usually with humor or lighthearted perspective. Yet they tell truths, as seen from that period and time. The word, xenien, is taken from the Greek Xenion, meaning a hostess gift, and was the title which the first-century Roman poet Martial used for a collection of his poetry. The joint project between Goethe and Schiller to write such "xanien" shows their shared sensibilities as well as awareness of the history and lineage of word arts.



i.  The clear world

As a mote of dust flies into the eye,
So is it truly with worry.
When we look into the beauty of the world,
There awaits a gray cobweb;
It covers nothing, yet it is pulled over all.
The picture seems disturbed, though merely clouded.
The clear world remains a lucid world:
Only in the eye does it seem to be less.


ii.  Nothing

Nothing left or right will lure me aside,
As I follow in headlong rush;
Lest someone might think otherwise,
The path is certainly wide enough.

iii.  Unity

To break asunder a unity's eternal light,
We must remain foolhardy,
Where such errors serve quite sufficiently.
Brilliance and darkness, light and shadow,
One cleverly unifies such,
And thus is the richness of difference conquered.

iii.  Before God's Throne

Night, when goodly spirits roam,
As the brow is brushed by sleep,
Moonlight and flickering stars
Shimmer over you with the infinite,
And seeming almost incorporeal,
You dare to come before God's throne.


The score for Vier kleine Lieder 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.


Vier kleine Lieder