Der Jüngling an der Quelle

Franz Schubert

Der Jüngling an der Quelle in A major

D300 • “Leise, rieselnder Quell!”

About this work

Not only is Schubert's setting of Johann von Salis-Seewis' poem "Der Jüngling an der Quelle" (The Youth By the Spring) (D. 300) his best Salis-Seewis setting, it is among his greatest songs, an innocent and ethereal yet deeply sensuous love song that only Schubert could have conceived. It is apparently simple -- the tenor vocal melody is often only an arpeggiation of the tonic and dominant triads, the bass line of the piano sustains the roots of the tonic and dominant triads for most of the song, the alto line of the piano also arpeggiated the tonic and dominant triads, and the soprano line of the piano combines repeated notes with a slowly unfolding scalar melody -- but the interaction of these parts is endlessly fascinating. But, as always with Schubert, the greatest interest in Der Jüngling an der Quelle is harmonic. With only a few accidentals, Schubert is able to illuminate the depths of the eight-line poem: The joyful awaking of love by sharps that lead to the dominant; the sorrowful realization of the beloved's aloofness in the flats that take the music to the minor sub-dominant; and the half-joyful, half-sorrowful realization that the spring sings only of the beloved in the return to the tonic at the song's end. In 29 bars, Schubert has created a model of musical perfection.