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February 2014
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Schubert’s Vacation and a Masterpiece

Leaping Trout by Winslow Homer

Leaping Trout by Winslow Homer

WFMT’s February Theme is The Animal Kingdom!

The story goes like this: Schubert and his friend, baritone Johann Vogl decided to beat the Summer heat and take a mountain holiday. Vogl had grown up in the Alpine town of Steyr, and was sure he could find lodgings there. Indeed he did; the 22-year-old Schubert wrote “there are eight girls living in the home, nearly all of them pretty.”

The two men took walking tours by day, and played music with the townspeople by night. The local cellist was a wealthy mine owner in Steyr, Sylvester Paumgartner. He ended up hosting most of the soirees in his own home—Schubert, who was a struggling, no-name artist in Vienna, had a taste of celebrity.

One of Paumgartner’s favorites was the song Die Forelle (The Trout). After he got back to Vienna, Schubert sent Paumgartner a quintet based on the song; something to play with friends (piano, violin, viola and bass); unfortunately, the cello-writing was too ambitious. The Trout Quintet, one of the most beloved chamber works of all time, sat on Paumgartner’s shelf until after Schubert died.

WFMT’s celebration of The Animal Kingdom continues on Monday as Kerry Frumkin presents Schubert’s Trout Quintet during the two o’clock hour.

English lyrics

Kerry Frumkin with Luna

Kerry Frumkin with Luna

The Trout

by Christian Friedrich Daniel Schubart

In a bright little brook
there shot in merry haste
a capricious trout:
past it shot like an arrow.
I stood upon the shore
and watched in sweet peace
the cheery fish’s bath
in the clear little brook.

A fisher with his rod
stood at the water-side,
and watched with cold blood
as the fish swam about.
So long as the clearness of the water
remained intact, I thought,
he would not be able to capture the trout
with his fishing rod.

But finally the thief grew weary
of waiting. He stirred up
the brook and made it muddy,
and before I realized it,
his fishing rod was twitching:
the fish was squirming there,
and with raging blood I
gazed at the betrayed fish.

*At the golden fountain
of youth, you linger so confidently;
But think of the trout,
and if you see danger, flee!
Mostly it is from lack
of cleverness that maidens
miss the angling seducers.
So beware! otherwise you may bleed too late!

*Schubert decided not to set the final stanza

 

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