By S. Stasov
Franz Schubert wrote the dreamy Ständchen (Serenade) at the end of his brief life. Ständchen is considered one of the most beautiful melodies in the world, and is one of Schubert’s most well known songs. It is from a collection of songs published after his death, aptly titled by his publisher Schwanengesang (Swan Song).
Here are two interpretations from brilliant artists, both of whom had serious problems with alcohol, but were nonetheless among the most beloved singers of all time.
Eleanor Steber was an acclaimed soprano, one of the earliest native born and trained opera singers in America. Jussi Björling was a Swedish tenor, thought by many to be the supreme lyric tenor of the 20th century.
Eleanor Steber with pianist Edwin Biltcliffe
Jussi Björling. Accompanist unknown
Leise flehen meine Lieder
Durch die Nacht zu dir;
In den stillen Hain 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,
Rühren mit den Silbertönen
Jedes weiche Herz.
Laß auch dir die Brust bewegen,
Liebchen, höre mich!
Bebend harr’ ich dir entgegen!
Komm, beglücke mich!
My songs beckon softly
through the night to you;
below in the quiet grove,
Come to me, beloved!
The rustle of slender leaf tips whispers
in the moonlight;
Do not fear the evil spying
of the betrayer, my dear.
Do you hear the nightingales call?
Ah, they beckon to you,
With the sweet sound of their singing
they beckon to you for me.
They understand the heart’s longing,
know the pain of love,
They calm each tender heart
with their silver tones.
Let them also stir within your breast,
beloved, hear me!
Trembling I wait for you,
Come, please me!