Franz Schubert

Die Zauberharfe, melodrama, D. 644

    Description by James Leonard

    Franz Schubert (1797-1828) was far and away and beyond all argument the greatest composer of German art songs who ever lived. But what he really wanted to be was the greatest composer of German operas who ever lived and he never stopped trying to compose operas. A curious byway of Schubert's operatic fixation was his melodrama Die Zauberharfe, D. 644. Written in two weeks in 1820, the work was premiered in August of that year, suffered at the hands of uncomprehending critics, ran for eight performances, and disappeared from the repertoire. Schubert later re-used the overture from Die Zauberharfe as the overture to Rosamunde in 1823. The remainder of Schubert's music from Die Zauberharfe remained unplayed until long after Schubert's death. Although a critical failure, the composition of the music from Die Zauberharfe was extremely important in Schubert's development because in it, he had to put aside the lyricism of his songs and concentrate instead on creating orchestral music that could stand more or less on its own without his glorious melodies. That he succeeded in this led the way to his more symphonic B minor and C major symphonies.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Overture. Andante - Allegro vivace
    2. Chorus of Troubadours (Harfentöne lasst erklngen)
    3. Chorus of Troubadours and Knights (Zum Saal, der gold'ne Becher blinkt)
    4. Melodrama. Allegro vivace
    5. Finale (Ida! gib ein Zeichen)
    6. Chorus of Troubadours and Knights (Leben lasst den gold'nen Wein)
    7. Melodrama
    8. Chorus of Knights (Die Zauberin lasst uns betrügen)
    9. Melodrama.Allegro moderato
    10. Romance (Was belebt die schöne Welt?)
    11. Chorus of the Genii (Schlafe, Liebliche)
    12. Overture. Allegro, ma non troppo
    13. Melodrama. Allegro
    14. Melodrama behind the scenes. Andante
    15. Melodrama. Tempo I
    16. Final Song (Durch der Töne Zaubermacht)

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2013 Urania / Urania Records 162
    1995 Koch Schwann 310842
    Bongiovanni 2019/20