Der Sieg

Franz Schubert

Der Sieg in F major

D805 • “O unbewölktes Leben!”

About this work

In a letter from early March 1824, Schubert's friend Moritz von Schwind describes hearing Der Sieg (The Victory) (D. 805) as "a rich, teeming, almost fable-like song...a serious, ponderously Egyptian and yet so warm and round, very grand and generous." While a theorist might point to the modulation at the end of the song's central section as a brilliant use of enharmonic chromaticism and a historian might point to the influence of Mozart's Die Zauberflöte in the Sarastro-like nobility of the vocal line, Schwind's description cannot be bettered. "Rich and teeming" Der Sieg certainly is: the melody line in the central section contains hints of a narration of far greater depth. And Der Sieg is surely "fable-like": the narration itself seems to fuse allegory and Christian myth into something like a fable. Similarly, Der Sieg is "serious" in that the poem describes a suicide and after his first bout with syphilis, Schubert takes that subject very seriously. And it is "ponderously Egyptian" in the sense that Schubert's vocal melody does have more than a hint of Mozart's Egyptian Sarastro in it. But Schwind was especially correct in his final four adjectives: Der Sieg's harmonies are exceptionally warmhearted, its form is perfectly rounded in that the music of the opening is exactly repeated at the end, its tone is very grand with solemnity of mortality and immortality, and it is especially so in that it is the poet's suicide that leads him to his heavenly reward.