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HOME>Multimedia>Schubert-related Programs>Program:"Water Songs and Water Landscape">"Auf der Donau"

Dürnstein: Church Tower and Castle Ruins

Auf der Donau   On the Danube

Poem: Johann Mayrhofer
Translation by Tomoko Yamamoto (©2007)

Auf der Wellen Spiegel schwimmt der Kahn.
Alte Burgen ragen himmelan;
Tannenwälder rauschen geistergleich,
Und das Herz im Busen wird uns weich

Denn der Menschen Werke sinken all;
Wo ist Turm, wo Pforte, wo der Wall,
Wo sie selbst, die Starken, erzgeschirmt,
Die in Krieg und Jagden hingestürmt?
Wo? Wo?
Trauriges Gestrüppe wuchert fort,
Während frommer Sage Kraft verdorrt.
Und im kleinen Kahne wird uns bang,
Wellen drohn wie Zeiten Untergang.
Untergang, Untergang.
Over the reflecting waves glides the boat
Old fortresses soar up to the heavens;
Pine woods rustle like spirits
And our hearts in the breasts are moved

Because the human works all perish;
Where is the tower, the gate, and the wall?
Where are the warriors themselves in bronze armors,
who in wars and hunts stormed and hunted.
Where? Where?
Wretched bushes spread out,
While more valiant legends lose their power
And we become afraid in our small boat
Waves, like time, threaten to sink our boat
Sinking, sinking.

Note: The text shown above is the exactly the way Franz Schubert used the text when he set it to music including the repeats, which reflect the repeats in the music. With this poem, it seems the only repeated phrases Schubert added was Untergang. The original key of this song is E flat major and changes to F sharp minor and ends in this key, rather reverting to the original key. Untergang is repeated twice after the first time, and the musical line goes down to F Sharp below the Middle C. I am singing in the transposed version of A flat major/B minor which ends on the note of B below the Middle C.

Ruined fortresses dot the landscape of the Danube River in Austria. I visited Duernstein in Wachau to take the photo shown above. What remains of the Kuenring Castle on a rocky outcrop can be spotted above a church tower. At this location, English King, Richard the Lionheart was held captive in 1192-93. He fought in the third Crusade along with the king of France and the prince of the Babenberg (Austria) in 1191. The stories of these warriors might have inspired Johann Meyrhofer to pen this poem.

Reference: John Reed, The Schubert Companion, Faber and Faber, London, 1985, p.58

-----Tomoko Yamamoto-----

Back to the outline of a program of songs and slides by Tomoko Yamamoto in English for "Water Songs and Water Landscape: Multimedia Show," or in German for "Wasserlieder und Wasserlandschaft: Multimedia Show"

Keywords:Auf der Donau, On the Danube, Franz Schubert, Johann Mayrhofer, Tomoko Yamamoto, Multimedia Show, water songs, Wasserlieder, water landscape, Wasserlandschaft, Untergang, Dürnstein, castle ruins, Burgruine, Richard the Lionheart, Richard Loewenhertz
Last Update: March 30, 2007