Morgen by Richard Strauss

Every so often a song will come along that completely stuns me. Having looked through some very old singing volumes that belonged to my mother, it was suggested that I should study ‘Morgen’ by Richard Strauss.

This piece feels like it is holding and manipulating you. When I listen to it, I feel as though something is being held just out of my reach, something that I desperately love and want. Occasionally Strauss lets me imagine having it, only to whisk it away again out of my grasp. There is a forlorn sort of optimism to this song. The singer responds to the gentle dream like melody of the violin by opening with a strong and definite statement: ‘And tomorrow the sun will shine again.’ She goes on with a sense of optimism, but there’s always a longing and a pleading behind the words, hidden in the music.

And tomorrow the sun will shine again
And on the way which I shall follow
She will again unite us lucky ones
As all around us the earth breathes in the sun
Slowly, silently, we will climb down
To the wide beach and the blue waves

When she begins, she interrupts the violin and he stops for a moment to listen to her before playing again. Occasionally he supports her, or echoes her, but sometimes he is playing a different melody. Maybe it’s the sad one that she doesn’t want to hear. It seems to me that when she reaches the end of this idealistic speech, she gets suddenly swept up in her reverie. The violin notices that she isn’t with him anymore and follows her into her dream world. She is so displaced from the reality that she was in. The broken chords have turned to sustained ones, she is almost drifting on clouds of music.

In silence, we will look in each other’s eyes
And the mute stillness of happiness will sink upon us

In this section, she lifts the music up step by step, as though willing the sun to rise faster as she watches it. She can clearly see the moment that she will be happy in front of her. She almost trails off, discordant again as she was at the very beginning – although this time it is a peaceful, resolved sort of definite that she inhabits now. Without any resistance, she waits for the dawn while the violin plays.

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