Invoking Unheard Melodies: Rellstab’s Lyrics to Schubert’s “Serenade”

Rudolph Glitz


In this article, Ludwig Rellstab’s “Ständchen” or “Serenade” (1827), the poem set to music by Franz Schubert and included in the posthumous Schwanengesang collection (D 957), is a) translated with an emphasis on verbal and syntactical accuracy and b) interpreted in more detail than usual. The various interpretations offered range from a straightforward conventional reading that presumes a standard serenading situation over a more elusive one in which the melodies invoked by the speaker remain unheard in any literal sense to, finally, a “supernatural” one, in which the song as adapted and appropriated by Schubert takes the form of a communication from the afterlife. (RG)

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