About this work
Very possibly the best-known "sunset song" in the repertoire (and justly so), Franz Schubert's Im Abendrot, D. 799 was probably composed during late 1824 or early 1825, just before his somewhat improved health allowed him to (once again) move out of his father's house into some rooms of his own. The song, of which two manuscript copies survive (one copy is a little different from the other here and there -- a slight change of tempo indication, a chord revoiced), was published by Antonio Diabelli in December 1832, just over four years after its composer had died.
Im Abendrot (In the Evening Glow) is a setting of a Karl Lappe poem that Schubert somehow got his hands on long before it was published (Schubert set one other Lappe poem during his lifetime, Die Einsame; it, too, was still unpublished at the time of Schubert's death). The poem is in two quiet stanzas spoken directly to the Deity and set by Schubert in the kind of gentle A flat major that he reserved for some of his most intimate, self-assured Lieder. The song is marked very slow or sehr langsam); the harmonies are simple but richly spaced; a one-measure, ornamented cadence for the piano appears from time to time throughout the song both to provide the singer a chance to breathe and to serve as a kind of verse-end pendant to the appropriately hymnlike melody. The song "goes" nowhere, and in the most glorious way: the pure tone of the opening measure never once wavers, and when, during the second half of the song, some harmonic activity intrudes upon the tranquil scene, A flat major quietly and quickly makes itself visible again like some divine beacon.