• Judith Weir
  • Ständchen (1997)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)

Commissioned by the BBC for an anthology of new songs celebrating the Schubert Bi-centenary

  • pf
  • Baritone
  • 3 min
  • Judith Weir
  • Ludwig Rellstab

Programme Note

In 1997,BBC Radio 3 commemorated the bicentenary of Schubert’s birth by inviting many composers to write a song using one of the texts Schubert himself had set. I chose ‘Ständchen’ by Ludwig Rellstab; Schubert’s setting, one of his last, part of the Schwanengesang set, of course became one of his most famous songs. My own setting takes its cue from the songbirds mentioned in the text, and the idea of sentiments transmitted through the air over long distances. This is reflected in the generally fast high passagework in the piano part. The first performance of ‘my’ Ständchen together with Schubert’s was given by the baritone Roderick Williams on Radio 3 in 1997.

Leise flehen meine Lieder
Durch die Nacht zu Dir;
In den stillen Hein hernieder,
Liebchen, komm’zu mir!

Flüsternd schlanke Wipfel rauschen
In des Mondes Licht;
Des Verräters feindlich Lauschen
Fürchte, Holde, nicht.

Hörst die Nachtigallen schlagen ?
Ach! Sie flehen Dich,
Mit der Töne süssen Klagen
Flehen sie für mich

Sie verstehn des Busens Sehnen
Kennen Liebesschmerz,
Rühren mit den Silbertönen
Jedes weiche Herz.

Lass auch Dir das Herz bewegen,
Liebchen, höre mich !
Bebend harr’ich Dir entgegen!
Komm’, beglücke mich !

Translation by Richard Wigmore:

Softly my songs plead
Through the night to you;
Down into the silent grove,
Beloved, come to me !

Slender tree-tops whisper and rustle
In the moonlight;
My darling, do not fear
That the hostile betrayer will overhear us.

Do you not hear the nightingales call ?
Ah, they are imploring you;
With their sweet, plaintive songs
They are imploring for me.

They understand the heart’s yearning,
They know the pain of love;
With their silvery notes
They touch every tender heart.

Let your heart, too, be moved,
Beloved, hear me !
Trembling, I await you !
Come, make me happy !
© Judith Weir