Klage an Den Mond

Franz Schubert was a brilliant individual as he was able to compose such a great amount of works in a short lifespan of less than thirty two years. His compositions ranged widely from symphonies, operas, chamber music, solo piano music to Lieder. Schubert composed around six hundred Lieder. One Lied in particular is the Klage an den Mond (“Dein Silber schien”) D. 436. Klage an den Mond was composed by Schubert in 1816. The direct translation for Klage an den Mond is Lament to the Moon. This Lied was written for the voice and the piano in the form of a poem as there is a rhyme scheme. The narrator, which is the voice, speaks to the moon in the three short verses. Within each verse, the mood of the narrator changes. With the elements of form, melody, expression and text-setting, Klage an den Mond can be analyzed in such a way to be better understood.

Schubert’s Klage an den Mond D.436 is a clear example of the sentence form. The presentation section of the sentence arises at measure one and ends at measure twenty four. Within the presentation section of a sentence, there is a basic idea and a response. Measures one to twelve depict the basic idea, and the response is depicted in measures thirteen to twenty four. The melodic line of the response is similar to the basic idea with a slightly different harmony, with increased chromaticism which foreshadows a key change. After the presentation section, comes the continuation. The continuation section goes from measure twenty five to the end of the piece, measure thirty four. There is a clear key change in the continuation. The key has changed from F Major to d minor. This key change coincides with the text as the third verse is very dark, since the narrator’s speaks of his own approaching death. The continuation consists of fragmentation that drives to the cadence, which in this case the cadence is a perfect authentic cadence.

Klage an den Mond begins as a strophic Lied in the warm key of F major in the first verse. The narrator reminisces of the joyful memory he had of the moon smiling upon him when he was a little boy. The second verse begins similarly to the first verse had, but now the narrator speaks of the present and how the moon does not “smile” down peace which has him to produce tears. As for the third verse, it turns to D minor which again coincides with the text since the narrator predicts his own death. In the three short verses of Klage an den Mond, the poem gradually moves from the past in the first verse, to the present in the second verse, and then to the future in the third verse. Schubert also progressively changes the Lied from a strophic setting to an extremely gloomy setting.

Source: Brettany Tu, MUS 421, Professor Samuel, February 2013

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