Franz Schubert

Fischerweise in D major

D881, Op. 96/4 • “Den Fischer fechten Sorgen”

About this work

For a man who rarely saw lakes and never saw the ocean, Schubert wrote a substantial number of works that evoke and depict water. Of course, the most famous of these is his song cycle Die schöne Müllerin, but his song catalog is full of songs about boatmen, gondoliers, and, above all, fishermen. Indeed, Schubert's fisherman songs form a large and diverse subset of his water songs. In this March 1826 setting of his friend Baron Schlechta's poem "Fischerweise" (D. 881), Schubert's protagonist is one fisherman among many, singing a joyfully fraternal strophic song in D major. With the piano accompaniment serving as a sort of instrumental male chorus with basses, baritones, and tenors trading lines, the protagonist sings of the simple happiness of being the fisherman's life. Only in the last verse does Schubert change the strophic setting to include a reference to a shepherdess on the shore who is trying to catch fish with tricks.

Although this detail could be heard as disparaging or even misogynistic, in the context of Schubert's song, it sounds more like lighthearted banter.