About this work
Liedesend (Song's End) (D. 473) is one of several Schubert songs that treat the relationship between a minstrel and his king. In a society where all composers except Beethoven were still in thrall to their patrons for sustenance, the topic must have been often on Schubert's mind. And of all his songs on the subject, Liedesend could well have been closest to his heart. Over the course of his close friend Johann Mayrhofer's nine verses, the minstrel, having failed to win his king's favor, breaks his harp -- but, instead of punishment, the king favors the minstrel with mercy. Schubert's setting is through-composed, with each verse or each group of verses set to different music. The song's first verse creates the aural equivalent of the purple and gold hues of sunset in sober and solemn music. Its second verse is fairly prosaic martial music, and its third verse sings sweetly in a light cantilena. The fourth through sixth verses vividly depict the minstrel breaking his harp to more anguished music, but all is resolved in the three concluding verses when the king kindly pardons the minstrel and explains his actions with reference to his knowledge of his own impending death.