Wie Ulfru fischt

Franz Schubert

Wie Ulfru fischt in D minor

D525, Op. 21/3 • “Der Angel zuckt”

About this work

Wie Ulfru fischt (How Ulfru Fishes) (D. 525) of June 1823 may not seem to be the most promising title for a poem or a song. But the poet Johann Mayrhofer was a master at taking the simplest things in life and seeing the darkness and despair behind them. And so it is with poor Ulfru: he reflects that storms of life destroy those on land whom the fish mock in the safety of their watery home. And to top it off, Ulfru does not even catch a fish: he is not a very good fisherman. Schubert sets Mayrhofer's three-verse poem strophically to music which glides ambiguously between major and minor but ends pessimistically in the minor. The vocal melody is simple but sad; the accompaniment is easy but sorrowful, the rhythm is light but weighty. Wie Ulfru fischt is not one of Schubert and Mayrhofer's "dark night of the soul" songs but it does sound the depth of despair.