Peanuts comic strip, drawn by Charles M. Schulz (c)PNTS
Neue Liebe, neues Leben WoO 127 for voice and piano (1798-99, Beethoven aged 28)
Dedication not known
Text Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Background and Critical Reception
The third of Beethoven’s songs thought to be written in 1799 – and the third different language!
Susan Nouen, in some impressively detailed notes accompanying Signum’s disc of Beethoven Lieder with Ann Murray, recounts the composer’s history with this particular song. ‘The words…were borne of Goethe’s brief betrothal for some months in 1775 to Anne Elisabeth Schönemann’, who he nicknamed ‘Lili’. Their engagement ran into trouble because of her social circle, but her presence stayed with the poet. ‘She was the first woman I truly and deeply loved’, he said. ‘I can also say that she was the last’.
Beethoven identified strongly with this poem, setting it first in sketches in 1792, then this version, and then his final encounter with the text as Op.75/2.
A song of great urgency and concentrated feeling. Most of Beethoven’s writing is for the upper range of the tenor voice, and with quite short notes too – the singer is not allowed to rest at any point. Although in C major the song has no sense of repose, and Goethe’s words are delivered almost breathlessly. It will be interesting to see the music Beethoven finally brings to this text, for this is restless and less than comfortable.
Recordings used and Spotify links
Peter Maus (tenor), Hans Hilsdorf (piano)
You can chart the Arcana Beethoven playlist as it grows, with one recommended version of each piece we listen to. Catch up here!
Also written in 1799 Salieri Falstaff o sia Le tre burle
Next up Piano Sonata no.9 in E major Op.14/1