Frauenliebe und -leben

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Frauenliebe und -leben (A Woman's Love and Life) is a cycle of poems by Adelbert von Chamisso, written in 1830. They describe the course of a woman's love for her man, from her point of view, from first meeting through marriage to his death, and after. Selections were set to music as a song-cycle by masters of German Lied, namely Carl Loewe, Franz Paul Lachner and Robert Schumann. The setting by Schumann (his opus 42) is now the most widely known.

Schumann's cycle[edit]

Schumann wrote his setting in 1840, a year in which he wrote so many lieder (including three other song cycles: Liederkreis Op. 24 and Op. 39, Dichterliebe), that it is known as his "year of song". There are eight poems in his cycle, together telling a story from the protagonist first meeting her love, through their marriage, to his death. They are:

  1. "Seit ich ihn gesehen" ("Since I Saw Him")
  2. "Er, der Herrlichste von allen" ("He, the Noblest of All")
  3. "Ich kann's nicht fassen, nicht glauben" ("I Cannot Grasp or Believe It")
  4. "Du Ring an meinem Finger" ("You Ring Upon My Finger")
  5. "Helft mir, ihr Schwestern" ("Help Me, Sisters")
  6. "Süßer Freund, du blickest mich verwundert an" ("Sweet Friend, You Gaze")
  7. "An meinem Herzen, an meiner Brust" ("At My Heart, At My Breast")
  8. "Nun hast du mir den ersten Schmerz getan" ("Now You Have Caused Me Pain for the First Time")

Schumann's choice of text was very probably inspired in part by events in his personal life. He had been courting Clara Wieck, but had failed to get her father's permission to marry her. In 1840, after a legal battle to make such permission unnecessary, he finally married her.

The songs in this cycle are notable for the fact that the piano has a remarkable independence from the voice. Breaking away from the Schubertian ideal, Schumann has the piano contain the mood of the song in its totality. Another notable characteristic is the cycle's circular structure, in which the last movement repeats the theme of the first.


There have been many outstanding recordings of Schumann's setting.

Possibly the first was that of

During the 1930s the principal versions were those of

Recordings by

are noticed in 1951.[4]

These recordings are listed on CD in 1996:[9]

Loewe's setting[edit]

Loewe's Liederkranz Frauenliebe is his opus 60. He set all 9 poems, namely the eight used by Schumann (in the same order), but with the additional final song, 9. Traum der eignen Tage.[10] However he originally published the cycle as only the first 7 songs.


Lachner's setting[edit]

Franz Paul Lachner (1803–1890) made a setting entitled Frauenliebe und -leben for soprano, horn and piano as his op. 59; it also exists (for soprano, horn, clarinet and piano) as his op. 82. Like Schubert's "Auf dem Strom", it is part of the small repertoire of solo vocal music ensemble with horn.


  • Evelyn Tubb (soprano) Lesley Schatzberger (clarinet) Richard Burnett (fortepiano), Classicprint CPV005CD.
  • Aríon Trio (Andrea Weigt, soprano; Stefan Henke, horn; Rainer Gepp, piano), Antes Edition BM CD 31.9120.


  1. ^ Reissued on LP, HMV Treasury RLS 1547003, with booklet by Leo Riemens and William Mann, 1983.
  2. ^ R. D. Darrell, The Gramophone Shop Encyclopedia of Recorded Music (New York 1936).
  3. ^ E. Gerhardt, Recital (Methuen, London 1953), 180.
  4. ^ E. Sackville-West and D. Shawe-Taylor, The Record Year (Collins, London 1951), 538.
  5. ^ EMG Review January 1951. EMG, The Art of Record Buying 1960 (EMG, London 1960).
  6. ^ A Complete List of HMV, Columbia, Parlophone and MGM Long Playing records up to June 1955 (EMI, London 1955).
  7. ^ EMG Review July 1958. EMG, The Art of Record Buying 1960 (EMG, London 1960).
  8. ^ EMG Review June 1958. EMG, The Art of Record Buying 1960 (EMG, London 1960).
  9. ^ I. March, E. Greenfield and R. Layton, Penguin Guide to Compact Discs (Harmondsworth 1996 edition)
  10. ^ See link [1] for text of this song.

External links[edit]