Franz Schubert - Kosegarten cycle


by Morten Solvik

The story of the cycle and the characters assigned to some of the songs are derived from a close reading of the text and the music and are subject to interpretation.

The cycle opens with the bounding enthusiasm of Wilhelm, who is infatuated with Elwina [1] and even more enamored of love itself [2]. Ida enters, despondent over a lover who has abandoned her [3]. As she wanders through a grove of alderwood she appears to Wilhelm as if in a vision [4]. The two meet, Wilhelm [5] then Ida [6] proclaim their happiness. The tryst continues as Wilhelm urges Ida to look to the stars where a far greater power resides [7]. The liaison is short-lived, however: Wilhelm discovers Luisa singing to the stars [8] and is lured away by her [9]. Ida succumbs to the longing that seems deemed to be her fate [10] while Wilhelm continues his escapades with his new mistress [11] [12]. The cycle comes to a parenthetical caesura as all three characters sing a trio in praise of the evening [13].

The final episode begins, once again, with Wilhelm praising love [14]. At this point though, Wilhelm's description of the evening takes on an unaccustomedly dark tone [15]. This unease proves prophetic as events take a tragic turn. The ever-distraught Ida sings of her torment [16] and decides to take her own life [17], while Luisa swears fidelity even as Wilhelm betrays her [18]. Wilhelm's final appearance finds him pining for yet another woman, Rosa, who is absent [19] and who has also taken her life in the face of her lover's insincerity [20]. In the end, Wilhelm is devastated and alone, a victim of his own fickle heart.


Morten Solvik 1997 and 1999

Updated: 17 December 1999 Kosegarten