Franz Schubert

Heidenröslein in G major

D257, Op. 3/3 • “Sah ein Knab ein Röslein stehn”

About this work

Schubert's setting of Goethe's Heidenroslein (Wild Rose) (D. 257) from August, 1815, is one of his one-page wonders, strophic songs on one page of music which are miniature musical miracles. Like so many of Schubert's great Goethe settings, there was never a time when Heidenroslein did not exist: its quietly ecstatic melody has always been part of the collective memory of the human race. And like so many of Schubert's best songs, Heidenroslein melody has become virtually a German folk song. Of course, it is impossible to say what exactly it is about Heidenroslein which makes it so great. On the page, the quietly ecstatic melody is merely a G major ditty, the piano accompaniment is a simple vamp, the rhythm is relaxed, the tempo is comfortable and the harmonies go no further from the tonic than a secondary dominant. But when sung, Heidenroslein becomes one of the most artlessly affecting songs in all Schubert.