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Title Composer Description View or Listen Date Posted
Wohin Schubert
Voice and guitar
Arr. Reinhold Jentsch 
mus  pdf  mid  mp3  xml  2007-10-11

Title: "Wohin"

Composer: Franz Schubert.  Words: Wilhelm Müller

History

"Wohin", which means, "To Where?", is the second song of Die Schöne Müllerin, Schubert’s song cycle based on poems in German by Wilhelm Müller (1794-1827).

In “Wohin” we follow the thoughts of a young miller who finds himself following a rushing brook down from the mountains toward a valley.  In later songs in Die Schöne Müllerin, this stream leads the young man to a mill, where he falls in love with a pretty young girl working at that mill.  The affair has a sad end, with the young miller finding a final resting place in the deep waters of this very brook.  Thus, while "Wohin" seems bright and jolly, it carries poignancy and menace because we know how the story will end.

Schubert made minor modifications to Müller's text, and it is Schubert's text, as reproduced in Deutsches Lautenlied, that is listed below, along with my translation of the song into English.  I have modified the punctuation to conform more closely to Müller's.

Text

 

Wohin
By Wilhelm Müller
(Schubert's version)

To Where?
By Wilhelm Müller
Translated by Tom Potter

1 Ich hört’ ein Bächlein rauschen
  wohl aus dem Felsenquell,
Hinab zum Tale rauschen
  so frisch und wunderhell.

I heard a brooklet rushing,
  down from its mountain source,
It was rushing to the valley,
  so fresh and bright its course.

2 Ich weiß nicht, wie mir wurde,
  nicht, wer den Rat mir gab,
Ich musste gleich hinunter,
  mit meinem Wanderstab,
Ich musste gleich hinunter
  mit meinem Wanderstab

I know not how I came here,
  nor who has been my guide,
I had to walk on downward
  with wand'rer's staff beside,
I had to walk on downward,
  with wand'rer's staff beside.
3 Hinunter und immer weiter
  und immer dem Bache nach,
Und immer frischer rauschte
  und immer heller der Bach,
Und immer frischer rauschte
  und immer heller der Bach.

Yes downward and always onward,
  with ever the brook ahead;
The brook ran ever fresher,
  and brighter as it sped,
The brook ran ever fresher,
  and brighter as it sped.

4 Ist das denn meine Straße?
  O Bächlein sprich, wohin?
Wohin? Sag, wohin?
Du hast mit deinem Rauschen
  mir ganz berauscht den Sinn,
Du has mit deinem Rauschen
  mir ganz berauscht den Sinn.

Is this the road I'm taking?
  Oh Brook, please speak, to where?
To where? Say, to where?
Your tumult and your rushing
  my senses overbear,
Your tumult and your rushing
  my senses overbear.

5 Was sag’ ich denn vom Rauschen?
  Das kann kein Rauschen sein:
Es singen wohl die Nixen
  dort unten ihren Reih’n,
Es singen wohl die Nixen
  dort unten ihren Reih’n.

What say I then of rushing?
  That can not rushing be:
Deep down, perhaps the mermaids
  are singing songs for me,
Deep down perhaps the mermaids
  are singing songs for me.

6 Lass singen Gesell, lass rauschen,
  und wandre fröhlich nach!
Es gehn ja Mühlenräder
  in jedem klaren Bach,
Es gehn ja Mühlenräder
  in jedem klaren Bach.

Keep singing, My Friend, keep rushing,
  and wander merrily,
In each clear stream I follow,
  there millers wheels will be,
In each clear stream I follow,
  there millers wheels will be.
7 Lass singen, Gesell, lass rauschen
  und wandre fröhlich nach,
Fröhlich nach, fröhlich nach.

Keep singing, My Friend, keep rushing,
  and wander merrily,
Merrily, merrily.
 
Translation donated to the public domain, Tom Potter, 2007

 

Remarks

Difficult stanzas

Stanza 2, beginning, "Ich weiss nicht, wie mir wurde", is hard to understand, and certainly seems to carry threat below the surface.  My translation of this first line, "I know not how I came here" is not literal, but may capture the meaning.  The precise sense of this line is more like "I know not what happened to me".  Perhaps stanza 2 simply conveys the poet's thoughts when the inspiration for Die Schöne Müllerin came upon him; he visualized himself as placed in a mountain setting by a brook, with no understanding — because the vision was as yet incomplete — of why or how he got there.  But part of the vision was a sense of being drawn inexorably down along the stream to whatever fate was in store.

Stanza 5 is another difficult one.  "Water sprites" would be the literal translation of "Nixen", however "mermaids" fits the meter better and could arguably be appropriate.  More problematic is the first line, "Was sag’ ich denn vom Rauschen?  Das kann kein Rauschen sein".  The literal meaning is close to my translation, but what do we make of "That can not rushing be"?  Is there word play here based on "Rauschen" as "flow" vs. "Rauschen" as "noise"?  Note the previous stanza, in which the poet states that the rushing of the brook has overwhelmed his senses.  We might understand from this that the poet's physical sense of hearing has been suspended, bringing to the fore an inner mystical sensory realm in which such things as mermaids' songs become audible.

Guitar part

The guitar part, by Reinholdt Jentsch, is delightful and easy—well-crafted for the quick tempo which the song requires.  Just keep it flowing smoothly. 

Jentsch wrote for an instrument (lautengitarre, or lute-guitar) that was strung like a guitar, but had additional bass strings.  So "Wohin" has a few low D's, one whole step below the lowest note on a guitar.  Just play these an octave higher, on the open D string.  (Do not tune the E string down to D!)

References

Bourne, Charles, "Today's Schubert Song (#4), Die schöne Müllerin 2: Wohin?", blog page visited 7-Oct-2007, http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/charlesbourne/entry/todays_schubert_song_1_2_3

Müller, Wilhelm, Gedichte, edited by James Taft Hatfield, B. Behr's Verlag, Berlin, 1906 (516 pages), in books.google.com.  For "Wohin", see pp. 5-6.

W. Werckmeister (1873-?), editor, Deutsches Lautenlied, A. Köster Verlag, Berlin, 1916 edition, pp. 673-674.

"Where to? (Müller, set by Schubert)-The Lied and Art Song Texts Page", website visited 7-Oct-2007, http://www.recmusic.org/lieder/get_text.html?TextId=11923.   [This site has a translation into English by Elizabeth Ezust]

 

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