This essay seeks to evaluate in-depth the content and the form of the poem by Franz Schubert. It also will try to discern how the composer portrays the main protagonist in the song. This paper also seeks to look into the many attributes that support, undermine or enhance poetic value. It will involve the techniques of modulation and functions of the F sharp among many other attributes, concepts and aspects.

Schwanengsang Poems

The content of the poems by Franz Schubert included:

  • Liebesbortschaft, which was a message of love. In this poem the singer invites a stream and a crowd to express a message of love to his beloved.
  • Krieger Ahnung, which is about a warriors foreboding. In this poem, the soldier who is encamped with his friend and fellow soldiers join together to sing of how he misses his beloved.
  • Fruhilingssehnsucht, which is about the longing of spring. In this poem the singer is surrounded by amazing natural beauty. However, this beauty does not satisfy him, unless his beloved brings him to the spring of their love.
  • Standchen, in which the singer asks his beloved to try and make him happy.
  • Aufenthalt, which is about a dwelling place. In this poem, for untold reasons the singer is consumed by anguish. He compares his feelings to the rivers, mountains and the environment around him.
  • In der Ferne is about a distance. In this poem, the singer has fled their home and is broken hearted. He has no friends, no one to talk to and no home to go to. In his anguish, he asks the elements of the air, the sun, the breeze to send his greetings to the one who broke his heart.
  • De Atlas, where the singer is going through a weight of sorrow. In his sorrow, he wishes to experience eternal wretchedness, or eternal happiness instead of having to bear all the anguish and the sorrow.
  • Irh bid entails a woman’s image. In this poem the singer explains to his beloved how he daydreams about her. He explains that in his dreams he imagines that her portrait has favored him by giving him a smile and a tear, when in the true meaning, he has lost her.
  • Das Fischermadchen, which simply entails or means a fisher maiden. In this poem, the fisher maiden is sweet talked by the singer into drawing parallels between his heart and sea, and thereby, entering into a love encounter with him.
  • Die Stadt, which simply means the city. In the poem, the singer has lost his loved one. He rows towards the city which foggily comes in to view.
  • Ins Meer, which means ‘by the sea’? In this poem, the singer tells the story of love. He narrates how he and his beloved met by the riverside. He explains that when they met, she cried and bewitched and poisoned him with her tears.
  • Der Doppelganger, which simply means double. In this poem, the singer is horrified at seeing someone standing outside the house that his beloved used to live. He later realizes that there is no one else standing outside the house but him.

It is important to note that in all these poems, the intellectual content of the poems carry emotional pitches music, rest and dynamics among many others. The content of the poems brings life to a familiar scene and in the listener’s memory. The poems’ are, therefore, a channel of communication that is opened when lyrics are supplied, when the video sequence begins, and when the artist plays the song from the poem. This simply means that the content of the poems is legendary to the listener’s memory, and has a nice feeling and a subtle touch.

The form of the poems by Franz Schubert attracted many disagreements from performers, critic’s and other people. The basis of the Schwanengsang conflicts originated from the fact that the Schwanengsang cycle was not in any way named by its composer, but was named by its publisher. According to the critics and performers, Schubert put in order only a small portion of songs. Some of the songs were later revised by critics, who were not satisfied by the orders of these songs. Every time the form of Schwanengsang songs was changed and modified, indirect cause and effect was realized and traced, the form of these songs has revolutionized the understanding of Schubert’s genius creation in his works. The analysis on the form of these songs and poems has also brought to light and revealed literature form the poems and songs. It is clear that the forms of these songs are very unique. This is attributed to the fact that the emotional pitches and points in the poems have a very unique interpretive echo in the music. The songs are thoroughly composed and every musical note suits the stanza in the song.

Schubert’s Settings

Schubert decoded Goethe poems in a unique and genius manner. Schubert’s setting revolutionized the songs. These settings transcended the unity of words found in music. This not only gave a new life to the music, but a new meaning to the music and poems as well. The big question is why Schubert formed these settings in the poems. Well, Schubert realized the amazing potential in the poetry work. In a specific poem, Der Erlkonig, which entails the death of a child caused by supernatural forces was rendition by Schubert. This particular rendition survived the criticism and settings. It was a notable setting. In His settings Schubert created the texts from Goethe poems. In the settings, Schubert created four characters in the song. The characters included the narrator, the father, the son and the Erlkonig. These characters were all sung by a single vocalist. He placed the vocal range of each character differently with its own rhythmic nuances. The ranges included:

  • The middle range was led by the narrator in the minor code.
  • The lower range was led by the father in a major mode and minor mode.
  • The high range was led by the son in the mode and represented the fear and fright of the child.
  • The vocal lines undulated up and down and represented unique accompaniment. This resulted in an outstanding contrast in the major mode.

However, this piece was very challenging, especially for the vocalist, but it was a success which drew attention from all corners. This is one of the songs that became known and successful in Schubert’s lifetime. The most amazing part is how Schubert differentiates the three speakers who are the father, the son and the Erlkonig.

 In the Schubert’s final years, he composed three settings on mignon’s songs. These songs were in a song cycle. This song was not only a living reality of the composer, but was also a reality of the writer’s unique resetting which was connected to the theme. In this way, Mignon’s emotions are confessed in musical form. The most interesting aspect about these settings is the fact the Schubert was able to identify with the Mignon’s emotions. He was then able to create settings in a way that was able to bring out the emotions in the song. The intriguing elements of these settings are the mystical longing and the expression of passion. The big question is ‘did Schubert experience this relentlessness within himself as an artist?’ The exploration of these emotions requires the experience of a composer, who defines and experiences complex emotions seeking an outlet.

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The settings in this song were a creative act, which unified feeling and intellect. It brought out the complex emotions through technique and imagination in music form. This truly portrayed Schubert as one who was accustomed to expressing himself successfully. It is important t to note that Schubert’s works were created at a certain point in his life. In other words , he must have been inspired at third point in his life to be able to create such unique settings. It also expressed the emotions that rose in him at that point in his life. It is interesting to note that Schubert individualized and categorized each setting on its own. This helped to bring out the differences in all expressive emotions, as seen from every individual work.

The settings in this song achieved great mileage for the narrator, as an exceptional and great literary artist. The settings were a reflection of Schubert’s experiences. This clearly shows that for Schubert, music is the language of emotions. In this case, the setting converts the experiences into poetry and shares the emotions in musical echoes.

Poetic Content

Music reading can support, enhance or undermine poetic content. It is important to note that reading poetry is a technique and an attitude which directs curiosity into the conversations and settings in the poem. Literature is simply sharing of experience. In this case, poetry should be an expression of the experience and an avenue with which to release and communicate the experience. In this regard, a successful poetry should reveal ideas that were in the composer’s mind at the time of the composition. The forms of a poem are not always direct or narrative, but carry a lot of meaning. The form of a poem suggests and portrays experiences, an idea and a feeling. A successful poem should have elaborate meaning, sound and movement in order to achieve the desired effects. It should also have a natural approach, which pays much attention to the punctuality and grammar in the poem. The structure of the poem is also very essential in an effective poetry. This is because the structure of the poem should have different structure styles. These styles include: halting style, breathless style and hesitant style. These styles should be immediately recognizable in order to clearly present the meaning of the writer’s ideas. In some instances the visual impact of the poem is very important. A poem that does not have a visual impact will more or less be ineffective and confusing. It is, therefore, important to note that the use of these techniques can undermine, support or enhance the poetic content in the poem. In this regard, the techniques should be used carefully and not pushed so far. In order for the musical reading to support and enhance the poetic content, the composer should embrace ambiguity. This is simply the relationship between the subject and the object, which helps to bring out uniqueness in the musical reading in the poem.

Schubert’s Strategy of Weakening the Classic Tonic

It is important to note that music is suited perfectly and tries to portray all kinds and types of movement. Therefore, music has corresponding moral and passion sentiments. This simply means that music should be made sensible to the soul through the ear. According to Schubert, the progression of harmony must have regard to the meter. However, the harmony should be light in order to express pleasant and gentle affections in the music. The meter should imitate movement or character. Schubert also suggests that rhythm and melody are responsible for portraying language and emotions. He adds that change is dynamic, because it helps to show expression.

The last three piano sonatas are his complete works. He clearly applies strategies that weaken the classic tonic. The reason for this is the neglect of these sonatas. However, in the musical analysis, it clearly shows that Schubert maintained a mature style with unique features in the tonal design. According to many critics, the sonatas were not connected to diverse structures, melody and harmonies elements. In that case, the sonatas could not move together. The first movement was in a moderate to a high speed. It consisted of three tonal areas and thematic areas. This is commonly known as a classical style. The intermediate tonality is quite remote and different from the tonic – dominant axis. The second movement is a slow movement, which is very different from the tonic. It helps to contrast the key and the characters. The other different key is the minuet in the tonic. This prominent key has a dramatic role in the movements. The finale key is in a moderately high speed. It is characterized by sections of melody together with the flow of the rhythm. This key creates a sense of expectation and diminishes tension. It ends up with the tonic tones and octaves.

Techniques of Modulation

Modulation is an act of changing from one key or tonic to another. According to Schubert, modulation helped to create unique structures, which added interest to the chord as the tonic. The modulation key moves from the original key to the destination key. Modulation can easily use a sustained or repetitive pitch. This pitch helps to connect the tone to the new key. The modulation also occurs at the point of a chromatic progression. In this case, the chromatic progression is known as the chromatic modulation. It can also occur in phases or sequences. Most modulations which are commonly known, are closely related keys that are used in different directions.

The function of F sharp is very important in the opening of a harmonic gesture. The melodic placement was very significant and important in the development and creation of Schubert’s music and poetry. These strategies had a disruptive feature that contributed to the weakening of the classic tonic. This was very effective in some of his poems and songs, but was unsuccessful in others. The reason was because the tonics did not achieve the desired pitches in the songs. Some of the tonics did not place a significant melodic climax while others did.

Schubert’s songs and poems made quite an impression in the literary world; they attracted not only criticism, but admiration of his work as well. Long after his death, the settings of his songs and poems continue to draw reactions from all the quarters of the world. This simply means that even though not all of his songs and poems were successful, Schubert left a positive mark in the literary world. He is a great inspiration to many upcoming and other artists. His strategies help to pave the way for many other artists. His success and fame came after his death. However, his works still make an impression to date. Some of his works have had to be revised any times. However, the original and revised versions of his works continue to make an impression of his artistic work. When one talks about poetry and music, the first thing that comes to mind is Der Atlas from Franz Schubert’s Schwanengsang.


This paper has thoroughly considered the poems’ content and form. It has mainly looked at Schubert’s settings in his strategies in setting the songs and the poems. The paper also pays attention to the strategies used by Schubert to weekend the classical tonics.


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