Annette von Droste zu Hülshoff (1797-1848)

Woodcut illustration from a magazine, 1897  (After a miniature painting by Annette's sister Jenny, around 1829) (StadtMuseum Bonn, Inventory No.: SMB 2007/026)
Woodcut illustration from a magazine, 1897 (After a miniature painting by Annette's sister Jenny, around 1829) (StadtMuseum Bonn, Inventory No.: SMB 2007/026)

In his reading booklet (Lektürebüchlein), in his diary, and also in a letter to Hans Christian Andersen, Schumann judged very positively the Gedichte [Poems] by Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, released through publisher Cotta in 1844In 1845, he borrowed the volume from the Leipzig bookseller and publisher Robert FrieseFurthermore, Schumann knew her texts from the literary journal Cottasches Morgenblatt in which the poetess, still relatively unknown at that moment, published her works, such as Die Judenbuche [The Jew’s Beech], on a regular basisIn May, Schumann enquired from the post office in Münster about the address of the Westphalian poetessWishing to engage her as an opera librettist, Clara Schumann finally composed a letter in June of that year and asked for a librettoThe request was met with little enthusiasm by Annette von Droste-Hülshoff – she did know the famous pianist but not the composer Schumann – and mentioned her rejection of this suggestion in a letter to her brother Werner.

In 1846, Hirtenkaben-Gesang [Song of the Shepherd Boy] for two sopranos and two tenors, WoO 18, was finally created by Schumann after the poem Hirtenfeuer [Shepherds’ Fire] from Annette von Droste-Hülshoff’s Haidebilder [Pictures of the Heath]This piece, originally meant to be integrated into a choral work, was assigned posthumously to Vier Gesänge[Four Part Songs], Op. 59, composed in the same year.

Sigrid Lange (translated by Thomas Henninger)

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