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RC 12 Mignon (“Kennst du das Land”)

text source

Goethe’s Gedichte Vol. I (Stuttgart: J.G. Cotta 1868), 97

dedicatees

recordings

  • Anniversary Edition 5 Et'cetera KTC 1435 CD5

publications

  • Complete Songs for Solo Voice and Piano Vol. 9 Donemus / Alphons Diepenbrock Fonds 19011705
  • Diepenbrock Album B/M Vol. II
  • Mignon (“Kennst du das Land”) Steyl & Thomas 25224413

  • Mignon (“Kennst du das Land”)
  • Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von
  • contralto and piano
  • 1884-01-01 00:00:00.0 - 1884-12-31 00:00:00.0 | revised 1889-01-01 00:00:00.0 - 1889-01-31 00:00:00.0
  • duration 6:40

Diepenbrock’s earliest compositions include five songs on texts by Goethe. Two of them, the ballads Mignon and Der König in Thule (The King in Thule, RC 16) date from 1886. After a revision by the composer, they were published in 1889 and dedicated to the singing teacher Cateau Esser. …more >

Mignon (incipit)


Diepenbrock’s earliest compositions include five songs on texts by Goethe. Two of them, the ballads Mignon and Der König in Thule (The King in Thule, RC 16) date from 1886. After a revision by the composer, they were published in 1889 and dedicated to the singing teacher Cateau Esser.

The famous poem Mignon from Goethe’s novel Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre (Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship) deals with the theme of ‘longing’ for Italy, embodied in the young girl who yearns for her fatherland. The poem’s hallmark is Mignon’s question which opens each of the three strophes. As a fledgling composer, it was a challenge for the 21-year-old Diepenbrock to tread in the footsteps of many masters. He was clearly fascinated by the character of Mignon, because two years later he also tried to set Goethe’s poem Mignon’s Verklärung (Mignon’s Transfiguration) to music (see RC 17*).

In his setting of the ballad Diepenbrock was led by Goethe’s description of Mignon’s recitation, as one can see by his directions in both the manuscript and print of the song containing a lengthy quotation:

Die Begleitung soll stets sehr zart ausgeführt werden. Der Vortrag naiv, einfach und den Worten Goethes gemäss: “Sie fing jeden Vers feierlich und prächtig an, als ob sie auf etwas Sonderbares aufmerksam machen, als ob sie etwas Wichtiges vortragen wollte. Das ‘kennst du es wohl?’ drückte sie geheimnisvoll und bedächtig aus, in dem: ‘dahin, dahin!’ lag eine unwiderstehliche Sehnsucht, und ihr: ‘Lass uns ziehn!’ wusste sie, bei jeder Wiederholung, dergestalt zu modifizieren, dass es bald bittend und dringend, bald treibend und vielversprechend war.” Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre, 3. Buch, 1. Cap.

The accompaniment must be played very softly throughout. The playing naive, simple and in accordance with Goethe’s words: “She began each verse solemnly and beautifully, as though she wanted to draw attention to something unusual, as though she wanted to convey something important. The phrase ‘do you know it?’ was expressed mysteriously and thoughtfully; the ‘There, there’ was filled with and irresistible yearning, and with each repetition she was able to modify her ‘Let us go’ in such a way that it was pleading and insistent, forceful and promising.”

Free declamatory form

Diepenbrock’s characterisation of his song Mignon (in programme notes which, though not signed, were most likely provided by him) as being written in an entirely free declamatory form, expresses the same idea. (BD V:724)

The voice sings the opening words “Kennst du das Land” (Do you know the land) without accompaniment. Characteristic of Diepenbrock’s flexible approach of the tempo are the indications tempo rubato, sehr langsam and the use of fermatas. The half-diminished seventh chord of the piano entry is reminiscent of Tristan and Isolde by Richard Wagner, a composer Diepenbrock greatly admired in his early years. The chord progression, which is repeated several times in Mignon, acts as a ‘question motive’. Mignon’s mood swings are mirrored by the direct succession of major and minor. The second strophe is more lively thanks to the leaps in the voice. Diepenbrock uses two consecutive ascending octave leaps to illustrate the word “Säulen” (columns).

It is said that it was not until 1 September 1905 that Diepenbrock heard the song performed, privately, by a professional singer, Pauline de Haan-Manifarges. In April 1907 she also gave the first performance of the orchestrated version of Mignon (RC 77). Thus, the composition received its premiere after 23 year

Désirée Staverman



Kennst du das Land, wo die Zitronen blühn,
Im dunklen Laub die Goldorangen glühn,
Ein sanfter Wind vom blauen Himmel weht,
Die Myrte still und hoch der Lorbeer steht,
Kennst du es wohl? Dahin! Dahin
Möcht' ich mit dir, o mein Geliebter, ziehn!

Kennst du das Haus? Auf Säulen ruht sein Dach,
Es glänzt der Saal, es schimmert das Gemach,
Und Marmorbilder stehn und sehn mich an:
Was hat man dir, du armes Kind, getan?
Kennst du es wohl? Dahin! Dahin
Möcht' ich mit dir, o mein Beschützer, ziehn!

Kennst du den Berg und seinen Wolkensteg?
Das Maultier sucht im Nebel seinen Weg,
In Höhlen wohnt der Drachen alte Brut,
Es stürzt der Fels und über ihn die Flut:
Kennst du ihn wohl? Dahin! Dahin
Geht unser Weg! o Vater, laß uns ziehn!

Do you know the land where the lemon trees blossom?
Among dark leaves the golden oranges glow.
A gentle breeze from blue skies drifts.
The myrtle is still, and the laurel stands high.
Do you know it well?
There, there would I go with you, my beloved.

Do you know the house? On pillars rests its roof.
The great hall glistens, the room shines,
and the marble statues stand and look at me, asking:
‘What have they done to you, poor child?’
Do you know it well? there, there
Would I go with you, oh my protector.

Do you know the mountain and its path?
The muletier searches in the clouds for his way;
in the caves dwell the dragon of the old breed.
The cliff falls, and over it the flood.
Do you know it well? There, there
leads our way; oh father, let us go!

 


 


  • SL-4

    autograph (only known as photograph) dated on the last page 21 Jan. 1889

    • 1889-01-21 00:00:00.0
    • pages: unknown

  • click to enlarge

    Anniversary Edition 5

    cd Et'cetera KTC 1435 CD5
    Alexander, Roberta ♦ Jansen, Rudolf ♦ Nes, Jard van ♦ Holl, Robert ♦ Prégardien, Christoph ♦ Pfeiler, Christa ♦ Doeselaar, Leo van ♦ McFadden, Claron ♦ Kuyken, David

    Tracks: 1 = RC 3; 2 = RC 6; 3 = RC 11; 4 = RC 12; 5 = RC 16; 6 = RC 20; 7 = RC 25; 8 = RC 42; 9 = RC 55; 10 = RC 121; 11 = RC 90; 12 = RC 95; 13 = RC 91

  • Complete Songs for Solo Voice and Piano Vol. 9

    1997 Donemus / Alphons Diepenbrock Fonds Staverman, Désirée
  • Diepenbrock Album B/M Vol. II

    1955 Reeser, Eduard
  • Mignon (“Kennst du das Land”)

    1889 Steyl & Thomas