Du bist die Ruh

Franz Schubert

Du bist die Ruh in Eb major

D776, Op. 59/3 • “Du bist die Ruh, der Friede mild”

About this work

Schubert set relatively few poems by Friedrich Rückert, but this song is one of five from 1823. Actually, three of those efforts, which includes Lachen und Weinen (Laughter and Tears), are not positively dated to that year, but most likely come from that approximate time. "Du bist die Ruh" (You are Rest and Peace) is No. 3, from the Op. 59 collection, which consist of four songs. The others are the aforementioned Lachen und Weinen, Du liebst mich nicht (You love me not) and Das sie hier gewesen (She has been here!). The love poem from which Du bist die Ruh derives was written by Rückert in 1819 - 1820 and published in 1822. The poet expresses passionate feelings within it, as evidenced by the closing lines: "The temple of my eyes is lit only by your radiance. O, fill it wholly!"

Though the text of this short poem is quite moving, Schubert's music for it turns the sensuality and sentiment into an almost religious worshipfulness in his rather innocent and idealized view of the text. The theme itself is lovely and gentle, as much Classical in spirit as Romantic. The structure of the song and the music itself, which is given the tempo marking by Schubert of Langsam (slowly), is disarmingly simple, yet subtle in the marrying of the text to the music, and in the deftly wrought piano accompaniment.

It is hardly surprising that this is one of Schubert's most popular songs both in the concert hall and recording studio. Du bist die Ruh was first published in 1826. Franz Liszt, who wrote many transcriptions of the music of Schubert, Beethoven, Schumann, and others, made one of this song for piano solo, which has developed a fair measure of popularity of its own.