Nänie

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Nänie (the German form of Latin nenia, meaning "a funeral song"[1]) is a composition for SATB chorus and orchestra, op. 82 by Johannes Brahms, which sets to music the poem Nänie by Friedrich Schiller. Brahms composed the piece in 1881, in memory of his deceased friend Anselm Feuerbach. Nänie is a lamentation on the inevitability of death; the first sentence, Auch das Schöne muß sterben, translates to "Even the Beautiful must die." An average performance has a duration of approximately 15 minutes. It is one of the most rarely performed pieces by Brahms mostly due to its difficulty, leaving only more experienced choirs able to perform it.[citation needed]

The text follows:

Auch das Schöne muß sterben! Das Menschen und Götter bezwinget,
Nicht die eherne Brust rührt es dem stygischen Zeus.
Einmal nur erweichte die Liebe den Schattenbeherrscher,
Und an der Schwelle noch, streng, rief er zurück sein Geschenk.
Nicht stillt Aphrodite dem schönen Knaben die Wunde,
Die in den zierlichen Leib grausam der Eber geritzt.
Nicht errettet den göttlichen Held die unsterbliche Mutter,
Wann er am skäischen Tor fallend sein Schicksal erfüllt.
Aber sie steigt aus dem Meer mit allen Töchtern des Nereus,
Und die Klage hebt an um den verherrlichten Sohn.
Siehe! Da weinen die Götter, es weinen die Göttinnen alle,
Daß das Schöne vergeht, daß das Vollkommene stirbt.
Auch ein Klagelied zu sein im Mund der Geliebten ist herrlich;
Denn das Gemeine geht klanglos zum Orkus hinab.



English translation:

Even the beautiful must perish! That which overcomes gods and men
Moves not the armored heart of the Stygian Zeus.
Only once did love come to soften the Lord of the Shadows,
And just at the threshold he sternly took back his gift.
Neither can Aphrodite heal the wounds of the beautiful youth
That the boar had savagely torn in his delicate body.
Nor can the deathless mother rescue the divine hero
When, at the Scaean gate now falling, he fulfills his fate.
But she ascends from the sea with all the daughters of Nereus,
And she raises a plaint here for her glorious son.
Behold! The gods weep, all the goddesses weep,
That the beautiful perishes, that the most perfect passes away.
But a lament on the lips of loved ones is glorious,
For the ignoble goes down to Orcus in silence.

A setting of the text by Hermann Goetz, written in 1874, is also extant and has been recorded.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "nenia", Charlton T. Lewis, Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary, online [1]

External links[edit]