Das Lied von der Erde

History Das Lied von der Erde
Introduction Das Lied von der Erde

Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth) is a composition for two voices and orchestra by Gustav Mahler (1860-1911). Composed between Year 1908 and Year 1909 following the most painful period in Mahler's life (Year 1907). The songs address themes such as Living, Parting and Salvation.

Mahler had already included ...

Lied 1: Das Trinklied vom Jammer der Erde

Drinking song of the world's misery

  • Das Trinklied vom Jammer der Erde.
  • Key: a minor.
  • Allegro pesante. (Cheerful heavy.)
  • After Chinese poet: Li Bai.
  • Voice: Tenor.
  • Duration: 8 minutes.

The first movement continually returns to the refrain, Dunkel ist das Leben, ist der Tod (literally, 'Dark is life, is death'), ...

Lied 2: Der Einsame im Herbst

The lonely man in autumn

  • Der Einsame im Herbst.
  • Key: d minor.
  • Etwas schleppend. Ermudet. (Somewhat dragging. Weary.)
  • After Chinese poet: Qian Qi.
  • Voice: Alto (or Baritone).
  • Solo: Windinstruments.
  • Duration: 10 minutes.

This movement is a much softer, less turbulent movement. Marked 'somewhat dragging and exhausted', it begins with a repetitive ...

Lied 3: Von der Jugend

Of youth

  • Von der Jugend.
  • Key: B-flat Major.
  • First scherzo.
  • Behaglich heiter. (Comfortably cheerful.)
  • After Chinese poet: Li Bai.
  • Voice: Tenor.
  • Duration: 3 minutes.

The third movement is the most obviously pentatonic and faux-Asian. The form is ternary, the third part being a greatly abbreviated revision of the first. It is ...

Lied 4: Von der Schonheit

Of beauty

  • Von der Schonheit.
  • Key: G Major.
  • Comodo. Dolcissimo. (Comfortable. Very sweet.)
  • After Chinese poet: Li Bai.
  • Voice: Alto (or Baritone).
  • Duration: 8 minutes.

The music of this movement is mostly soft and legato, meditating on the image of some 'young girls picking lotus flowers at the riverbank'. Later ...

Lied 5: Der Trunkene im Fruhling

The drunk man in spring

  • Der Trunkene im Fruhling.
  • Key: A Major.
  • Second scherzo.
  • Allegro. Keck, aber nicht zu schnell. (Audacious, but not too fast.)
  • After Chinese poet: Li Bai.
  • Voice: Tenor.
  • Solo: Violin and flute.
  • Duration: 4 minutes.

The second scherzo of the work is provided by the fifth movement. Like ...

Lied 6: Der Abschied

The farewell

  • Der Abschied.
  • Key: C minor to C Major.
  • Schwer. (Heavy).
  • After Chinese poets: Mong Kao Yen and Wang Sei.
  • Voice: Alto (or Baritone).
  • Solo: Mandolin, harp, celesta.
  • Duration: 31 minutes.

The final movement is nearly as long as the previous five movements combined. Its text is drawn from two ...

Orchestration Das Lied von der Erde


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