Andreas Boyde’s Orchestration of Robert Schumann’s Waldszenen, Op. 82

Komm mit uns in den grünen Wald.

Come along with us into the green woods.

Original Epigraph by Gustav Pfarrius

German Romanticism is unimaginable without the forest. An entire generation elevated nature’s idyllic habitat to mystical heights, the forest became refuge for secret yearnings, often filled with unfathomable anxiety. All these aspects are instantaneously revealed in the romantic novel Ahnung und Gegenwart by Joseph von Eichendorff. There, the forest is an allegory of the human soul taking centre stage in the narrative. Schumann felt profoundly inspired and set several of the novel’s poems to music. These songs entered his “most romantic” work, the Liederkreis, Op. 39, which in turn is closely linked to the Waldszenen. An important hint for their kindred spirits can be found in the first draft of Vogel als Prophet. Schumann was planning to use the last line of Zwielicht from Ahnung und Gegenwart as an epigraph for his most enigmatic Waldszenen movement: “Be on your guard! Stay alert and awake!”

Waldszenen were composed in 1848/49 and became one of the musical key works of the 19th century. A ‘programmatic’ walk along imaginary landscapes reflects on wild hunts and nature’s solitude. We tremble at haunted spots, enjoy the comfort of hospitality and listen to enigmatic birds. Energetic episodes and cryptic lyricisms form metaphors of highly romantic scenes, which immediately appealed to Schumann’s contemporaries. In a Berliner Musik-Zeitung Echo review from 1851, the critic took delight in the Waldszenen’s “enigmatic rustling, the distant melodies” and “the mystical flowers in the enchanting forest of music”. Over 160 years later, the orchestration intends to deepen its inherent complexity and vitalise the zeitgeist of German Romanticism with all its nuances.

1. Eintritt  •  Entrance

Wir gehn auf thauumperltem Pfad,
Durch schlankes Gras, durch duftges Moos,
Dem grünen Dickicht in den Schoos.

We walk along a dewy-pearled path,
Through slender grass, through fragrant moss,
Right into the green thicket

Original Epigraph by Gustav Pfarrius

The cycle opens with tranquillity but clouded moments already appear.

2. Jäger auf der Lauer  •  Hunter in Ambush

Früh steht der Jäger auf
Und beginnt den Tageslauf.

The huntsman arises early
And begins his daily round.

Original Epigraph by Heinrich Laube

Motionless suspense alternates with hasty movements and energetic outbursts.

3. Einsame Blumen  •  Lonely Flowers

Lost to the world, two upper voices in dialogue painfully cross each other at times, melancholy is heard in augmented triads. The Cursed Spot casts a shadow because this is where we find the Lonely Flowers.

4. Verrufene Stelle  •  Cursed Spot

Die Blumen, so hoch sie wachsen,
Sind blaß hier, wie der Tod;
Nur eine in der Mitte
Steht da im dunkeln Rot.
Die hat es nicht von der Sonne:
 Nie traf sie deren Glut;
Sie hat es von der Erde,
 Und die trank Menschenblut.

The flowers, however high they grow,
Here are pale like death;
Only one in the middle
Stands there dark red.

It does not get its colour from the sun:
It was never struck by its glow,
It gets it from the earth,
Which has drunk human blood.

Friedrich Hebbel

Rigid rhythms and gloomy melodies create a menacing atmosphere, the main motif of Einsame Blumen is woven into the dark counterpoint.

5. Freundliche Landschaft  •  Friendly Landscape

The musical scene clears with a brisk and sunny intermezzo.

6. Herberge  •  The Inn

Stories of adventure are exchanged in pleasant company. But even here our thoughts wander into doubt with musical innuendos.

7. Vogel als Prophet  •  Bird as Prophet

Hüte dich! Sei wach und munter!

Be on your guard! Stay alert and awake!

Original Epigraph by Joseph von Eichendorff

Ominous premonitions are condensed into an enigmatic vision.

8. Jagdlied  •  Hunting Song

Frisch auf zum fröhlichen Jagen,
Ihr Jäger auf zur Pirsch!

Off cheerily to the merry hunt,
Ye huntsmen, off to the deer-stalking!

Original Epigraph by Heinrich Laube

 A lively piece full of gripping energy, framing a sophisticated trio section.

9. Abschied  •  Farewell

Leise dringt der Schatten weiter,
Abendhauch schon weht durch’s Thal,
Ferne Höhn nur grüßen heiter
Noch den letzten Sonnenstrahl.

Softly the shade proceeds,
Evening breezes already blow across the valley,
Only the remote heights gaily greet
The last remaining sunbeam.

Original Epigraph by Gustav Pfarrius

Pfarrius’ words aptly describe the atmosphere of the last movement. Reminiscent of Eichendorff’s Im Abendrot, the sunset transfigures memories into widely spanned melodic lines. Schumann draws together the cycle and concludes the work.

Orchestration

2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, timpani, strings

The Complete Epigraphs, Originally Chosen by Schumann

Waldszenen

Komm mit, verlaß das Marktgeschrei,
Verlaß den Qualm, der sich dir ballt
Um’s Herz, und athme wieder frei;
Komm mit uns in den grünen Wald.

Come along, leave the racket of life,
Leave the haze that enshrouds thy heart
And breathe free once again;
Come along with us into the green woods.

Gustav Pfarrius

Jäger auf der Lauer

Früh steht der Jäger auf
Und beginnt den Tageslauf:
Das erste Licht auf’s Büchsenkorn
Bringt mehr als ein ganzer Tagesborn:
Dämmer ist Wildes Braut,
Dämmer macht Wild vertraut, —
Was man früh angeseh’n,
Wird uns nicht leicht entgeh’n.

The huntsman arises early
And begins his daily round:
The first light in the sight of the musket
Is worth more than a whole day’s fount.
The early light of dawn is the game’s bride,
The early light of dawn makes the game trusting,–
What one spots in the early part of the day,
Will not easily get away.

Heinrich Laube

Jagdlied

Frisch auf zum fröhlichen Jagen,
Ihr Jäger auf zur Pirsch!
Wir wollen den Hirsch erjagen,
Den edlen rothen Hirsch.
Der Tag steigt auf in Frische,
Der Hirsch kehrt heim vom Feld;
Frisch auf denn in’s Gebüsche,
Wo er den Wechsel hält.

Off cheerily to the merry hunt,
Ye huntsmen, off to the deer-stalking!
We want to hunt down the deer,
The noble red stag.
The day dawns in freshness,
The stag returns from the field;
Off cheerily into the bushes,
To his habitual feeding track.

Heinrich Laube