1. Ich darf nicht dankend... (aus »Waller im Schnee« von Stefan George) >>> text | sources

2. In diesen Wintertagen (Karl Henckell) >>> text | sources

DURATION: ca. 5 Min.

Universal Edition
Belmont Music Publishers (USA, Canada, Mexico)

"I was the first one to dare to take the decisive step – but that does not really count as a merit; I regret that but I am obliged to ignore it. The Two Songs op. 14 were the first step (…)"
The op. 14 Lieder constitute one of the first works which belong to Schönberg’s "atonal phase." The two verses of “Ich darf nicht dankend,“ by Stefan George, are from the chapter "Das Jahr der Seele" ("The Year of the Soul") from the book "Waller im Schnee" ("Waller in the Snow") and date from 1897; the person referred to as "du" in the poems is Ida Coblenz, whom George met and fell in love with in 1893; he presented her with the fair copy of "Das Jahr der Seele". But, to George’s disappointment, Coblenz married his rival Richard Dehmel shortly thereafter; George demanded to return the manuscript, whereupon he burned it.
Even if Schönberg could not know about that autobiographical background to the poems, his choice of texts may well have to do with his feelings for his wife Mathilde. He began to set the two winter poems to music in early 1908, before the three-way conflict broke out among the painter Richard Gerstl, Mathilde Schönberg and himself (a conflict which ended with Mathilde’s return to Schönberg and Gerstl’s suicide).
It is possible that Richard Strauss’ setting of Georg Henckel’s Winterweihe (“Winter Consecration”), published in 1904, was Schönberg’s inspiration to compose the poem himself, since – unlike many volumes of poetry by Richard Dehmel and Stefan George – this text is not among the books in Schönberg’s library.

Iris Pfeiffer | © Arnold Schönberg Center