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Preface

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 September 2009

Susan Youens
Affiliation:
University of Notre Dame, Indiana
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Summary

If music and poetry are the sister arts, so says tradition, they are also the odd couple. They do different things in fundamentally different languages; even where they seem to come together, they have different large tales to tell. It is symptomatic of their dissimilarities that actual collaboration – a poet and composer working together – is a rarity in the history of song. Even those eighteenth- and nineteenth-century poets who desired musical settings of their verse were seldom asked for their assent or consulted about their wishes in the matter; the usual practice was a composer's appropriation of a poem without even the poet's knowledge, much less his or her consent. Music's conventional obeisances to poets and poetry are thus in some measure a guilty façade to conceal a form of theft in which an existing work of art is not only robbed but used and sometimes abused for purposes unimagined by the original creator. No longer poetry per se, it undergoes a sea-change – whether for better or worse is out of the helpless (often dead) wordmonger's hands.

One of the oddest of odd couples is the pairing of Eduard Mörike (1804–75) and Hugo Wolf, despite the fact that they are often cited as “the perfect marriage” of poetry and music. But even a skeletal outline of their lives makes it apparent that their arts issued from very different experiences and perspectives – two more unlike creatures would be difficult to imagine.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2000

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  • Preface
  • Susan Youens, University of Notre Dame, Indiana
  • Book: Hugo Wolf and his Mörike Songs
  • Online publication: 22 September 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511481970.001
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  • Preface
  • Susan Youens, University of Notre Dame, Indiana
  • Book: Hugo Wolf and his Mörike Songs
  • Online publication: 22 September 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511481970.001
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Preface
  • Susan Youens, University of Notre Dame, Indiana
  • Book: Hugo Wolf and his Mörike Songs
  • Online publication: 22 September 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511481970.001
Available formats
×