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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Wilhelm Muller - The Original Tree Hugger

In Schubert’s “Der Linderbaum” story is told through music and a poem by Wilhelm Muller. The poem tells a story of a man and childhood place where he found comfort, but as he grows and leaves home he leaves the place. The place he loves is by a tree, where throughout the years he found comfort and rest from the world. The poem is set up into six different strophes that have no consistent rhyme scheme. The story shifts when he realizes he has to leave the tree, even when it could still offer support and comfort.
During the first and second strophe the singer tells about the times he spent with the tree and the comfort it offered. The music helps depict this scene with slow flowing bass and similar rhythmic structure. This section is also in E Major. In the third strophe a more recent memory of having to turn away from the tree and leave it behind during a dark night is told. The music here shifts to e minor giving it a very eerie and spooky sound. However it shifts back to E Major for the fourth strophe with the tree speaks out to the singer. This leads the listener to believe that comfort may be found again, but Schubert has the bass part speed up and add modal mixture (iv7) to the fifth strophe. This is when the singer turns his back and doesn’t turn back. He knows he has made a choice and sticks with it. The modal mixture in the piano adds to the anger and distraught expressed by the singer. In the sixth and final strophe the piano part slows to the original key and speed. The singer becomes nostalgic, returning to the same opening melody. He sings of being far from that place he once loved, and having regrets for leaving that night the tree called to him. The piano part expands a major I chord all the way through to the last chord, ending in the original key.
I really like this piece; it expresses things that I think everyone feels. If I were to sing it I think I would want it to go a little quicker during the first two strophes, since that is the happy part of the song. I feel like that could have a quicker tempo, and when the third strophe comes I would slow down. I love the angst and contrast between the fifth and the sixth strophe. I personally do a lot of sad songs, oh the wonders of being a mezzo, so I think this would be a great piece to perform!

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