Elisabeth Kulmann (1808-1825)

Elisabeth Kulmann (1808-1825) Steel engraving by Carl Barth, after a marble bust by Paolo Catozzi (StadtMuseum Bonn, SMB 2005/274)
Elisabeth Kulmann (1808-1825) Steel engraving by Carl Barth, after a marble bust by Paolo Catozzi (StadtMuseum Bonn, SMB 2005/274)

In May 1851, Schumann read the poems of this German-Russian poet from Saint Petersburg, who deceased at the age of merely seventeen, and set some of her poems to music in Sieben Lieder [“Seven Songs”] Op. 104 and Mädchenlieder [“Maidens’ Songs”] Op. 103 within a few days only. Fascinated as he was by the poet, Schumann spoke about a “himmlische Erscheinung” [“heavenly apparition”] and a “wunderbar begabtes Wesen, wie sie nur selten, nach langen Zeiträumen auf der Welt erscheinen” [“prodigiously gifted being as they rarely appear in the world and this after long periods only”]. The two compositions still appeared the same year with publisher Kistner in Leipzig and were dedicated to the poet’s memory.

Sigrid Lange, translated by Thomas Henninger

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