Hugo Wolf: Mein Liebster singt

Written by Amy Burton


In category: Song of the Day

Published April 7, 2020

This week, I’ll be sharing a new song each day to remind you (and myself) that how we use this time at home is as varied and limitless as our collective imagination.  There’s at least one song, if not hundreds, for everything we’re experiencing in this singular moment, and it wasn’t easy to pick five!  But I hope my choices delight, inspire, move, and comfort you, as they do me. 

FOMO (Fear of missing out)  

This phenomenon, particularly in young people, is shorthand for feeling like everyone else is having a better time, doing more, living better.   I’m not certain why this particular song from Hugo Wolf’s Italienisches Liederbuch came to mind, but I suspect it had something to do with how hard it is to stay in when you’d prefer to be out

The young woman in the song laments that her lover is outside serenading her, and she must stay in bed, her mother by her side. We really don’t know the reason for her confinement. Is she sick, pregnant, or just being kept inside by parents who have other ideas about who should come calling for their daughter?

Both Heyse’s text and Wolf’s music create a brief, but wildly emotional scene, a miniature aria that captures the full throttle passion of young love and the impatience of youth. I remember singing this song at twenty, and it didn’t seem the least bit overheated to me then.  Listening to it now, my heart still aches for the young girl, but I’m mostly just astonished at how Wolf opens up a whole world of feeling in ninety-three seconds.  

Mein Liebster singt am Haus in Mondenscheinen
Und ich muß lauschend hier in Bette liegen.
Weg von der Mutter wend’ ich mich und weine,
Blut sind die Tränen, die mir nicht versiegen.
Den breiten Strom am Bett hab’ ich geweint 
Weiß nicht vor Tränen ob der Morgen scheint
Den breiten Strom am Bett weint’ ich vor Sehnen;
Blind haben mich gemacht die blut’gen Tränen.

My lover sings outside my house in the moonlight
And I must languish here in bed and listen all night.
I turn away from my mother and cry,
My tears are blood, which will not dry.
A wide stream I have sobbed into my bed.
From all these tears, I don’t know if it’s morning yet
Such a wide stream I have sobbed here from longing;
I am blinded by tears, like blood running.
— Translation by Amy Burton

“Mein Liebster singt”
by Hugo Wolf (1860-1903); Paul Heyse (1830–1914)
performed by Julia Kleiter, soprano and Hilko Dumno, pianist

author: Amy Burton

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Amy Burton enjoys an eclectic career of opera, concert, and cabaret. She has sung with major opera companies and orchestras throughout the US and Europe, including the Metropolitan OperaNew York City Opera, Zürich Opera, L’Opéra de Nice, Scottish Opera, among many others. She has also sung at the White House.
A lover of French song, Ms. Burton appears frequently with her husband, composer-pianist John Musto in recitals and cabaret. Recent concerts include New York’s Cafe Sabarsky, the National Arts Club, Wave Hill, Barcelona’s Liceu, the National Museum for Women in the Arts, Lincoln Center, and the Kennedy Center. Together they have made several recordings, including Songs of John Musto, Souvenir de Printemps, and Got a Little Rhythm for Bridge Records.
A sought-after teacher, Ms. Burton is on the voice faculty at The Juilliard School, Mannes College of Music, and the CUNY Graduate Center DMA program. She also teaches, coaches and directs at SongFest at Colburn in Los Angeles.
Amy Burton has been honored to perform on twenty-one NYFOS concerts, and is a proud member of the NYFOS Artists Council.


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