Read chapter 15 and this session well. Experience a poetic work of art that exemplifies an INTERPRETATION of poetry by music and visual art.
Click here to listen well to Schubert’s, Der Erlkonig, This is an Art Song based on poetry as told through the piano.
“Der Erlkonig” was a poem written in 1782 by the famous German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. It was based on a Danish folk-tale in which the king of the elves roams the countryside, looking for beautiful children to “steal” by taking their lives. Like many folktales, this one is a cautionary tale about the dangers parents face when they don’t listen to their children. Children may be telling the truth of harm in their life, but the parents refuse to hear their pain. Goethe’s poem was an immediate success and became the inspiration for many pieces of music. The most famous of these is an art song written by Franz Schubert.
The poem is written to express the voices of four characters: a narrator, a father, his son, and the Elf King. Schubert intentionally wrote the music for one performer, who must portray and embody all four parts. Each character’s music is different in tonality and range from the other parts. For example, the father’s “voice” is written in a lower register, while the son’s part is much higher.
The Elf King’s voice is falsely sweet, indicating his sneaky nature. It takes a great deal of dramatic, as well as musical, talent to portray the four characters clearly.
View this video as you listen to the voice inflections well with no subtitles:
View this video, in which you will hear the song accompanied by English subtitles:
View this video as you see how visual artists interpreted this poem and art song, Der Erlkonig:
After listening carefully to the above interpretations, thoroughly answer these discussions questions:
1) Without seeing the performer, would you be able to tell when he is portraying the four different characters? How?
2) In seeing the performer along with the English subtitles, discuss how do you think that experience affected your perception and interpretation of the story.
3) How does Schubert use the piano accompaniment to help in telling this poetic tale? Discuss a specific example of how this is done.
4) Discuss your responses to the visual artists’ interpretations of the poem and the music. Which ones resonated additional clarity?
Read the information on citizenship. Read Romans 13:1-7. Using Romans 13 and the information on citizenship, how do you define Christian Citizenship? List four qualities of a Christian Citizen and connect it to the scripture passage.