About this work
Schubert's Sehnsucht (Longing) (D. 879) is the most agitated and anguished of his settings of poems by Johann Seidl from March 1826. But, then, this is a song called Sehnsucht and its longing is never assuaged -- or at least not assuaged in the manner that the narrator had hoped -- in the poem. Yet Schubert does assuage the singer's longing in his treatment of the poem's four verses by not setting them strophically but rather as through-composed. Thus a poem which starts in distraught D minor moves over the course of the song to exalted D major by its close because Schubert's setting is less contemplative than narrative, less musing on its despair than trying to work through its despair. A love has been lost, but the singer can still recall it in song, and, with that realization, the song closes triumphantly with a clarion call in the vocal melody.