Franz Schubert

Sehnsucht in D minor

D879, Op. 105/4 • “Die Scheibe friert, der Wind ist rauh”

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.