Herbst (Autumn)

Instrumentation/Voicing: 
SATB, alto solo, piano

Lyrical setting of Ranier Maria Rilke's exquisite poem on loneliness and of hope. The music, introspective and melancholy at first, "falls" gently into the gracious hands of "the One" who holds us all. A tender alto solo opens and closes the piece. "Herbst is quintessential Joan Szymko--a perfect marriage of text and music. Not only has she created an evocative and lyrical setting of Rilke's poem, she demonstrates a keen understanding of writing for the voice, one of the hallmarks of her music." - Mary Kay Geston D.M.A.

Perusal Score: 
Audio: 

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Order Sheet Music
Catalog Number: 
VMP001
Duration: 
4:00
Total Pages: 
12
Commissioned By: 
Regional Arts and Culture Council
Premiere
Premiere Date: 
10/16/2002
Premiere Ensemble: 
A Choral Conspiracy (satb)
Premiere Conductor: 
Joan Szymko
Reviews: 

“Herbst is quintessential Joan Szymko—a perfect marriage of text and music. Not only has she created an evocative and lyrical setting of Rilke's poem, she demonstrates a keen understanding of writing for the voice, one of the hallmarks of her music. There are few composers who so effectively capture the essence of the poetry they set with such consistent beauty. Everything she writes works practically and artistically and is satisfying to performers and audience members alike." Mary Kay Geston

Text
Text Author or Source: 
Rainier Maria Rilke (1875-1926)
Language: 
German
Text: 

Herbst (1902)

Die Blätter fallen, fallen wie von weit,
Als welkten in den Himmeln ferne Gärrten;
sie fallen mit verneinender Gebarde.

Und in den Nächten fällt die schwere
Erde aus allen Sternen in die Einsamkeit.

Wir alle fallen. Diese Hand da fällt.
Und sieh dir andre an: es ist in allen.

Und doch ist Einer, welcher dieses Fallen
Unendlich sanft in seinen Händen ält.

Translation: 

Autumn

The leaves are falling, falling as if from far up,
as if orchards were withering high in space.
Each leaf falls as if it were motioning

And tonight the heavy earth is falling
away from all the other stars in the loneliness.

We're all falling. This hand here is falling.
And look at the other one. It's in them all.

And yet there is Someone, whose hands
infinitely calm, holding up all this falling.

(trans by R. Bly)