About this work
Alte Liebe rostet nie (Old Love Never Dies) (D. 477) of 1816 was Schubert's second setting of a poem by Johann Mayrhofer. The first, Am See, was written two years earlier when Schubert was still attempting to compose long ballads using a wide variety of musical means to tell a story. This simple, five-verse poem elicits a completely different response from Schubert: a strophic setting whose tone is one of almost eighteenth-century charm. Indeed, it is almost literally of the eighteenth century; the motto theme of the song which sets the words "Alte Liebe rostet nie" is a quotation from the main theme of the finale of Mozart's final symphony. But behind this quotation lies another: the harmonic sequence of Schubert's own earlier song Litanei which underlies each verse.
Indeed, it is this harmonic sequence, a sequence which avoids a perfect cadence on the tonic until the piano postlude at the end of every verse, which moves the song from the eighteenth to the nineteenth century. Schubert's tone may be high classical but his harmony is early-Romantic.