There are hundreds of songs which could contend for the title of Schubert's most beautiful, and Die Sternennächte (The Starry Nights) (D. 670, op. posth. 165/2) is surely one. But, perhaps more to the point, it could be described as one of his most consolingly celestial songs. Setting the poem of the composer's good friend Johann Mayrhofer in October 1819, Schubert expressed in his music both sorrow on earth and prayerful appreciation of the beauty of the stars. Schubert's is a sort of heavenly barcarole in 6/8 time, with the vocal line floating above an accompaniment written almost entirely in the treble clef until the song's final bars. Composed originally in D flat major, Die Sternennächte was first published, and is still more often sung, in B flat major. But in its original key, the song radiates the super-lunary luminosity of a star-spangled night.
Description by James Leonard
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