Die Forelle - Franz Schubert

Die Forelle
(Franz Schubert)

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Die Forelle
by Franz Schubert

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Die Forelle ” (German for “The Trout”), Op. 32, D 550 is a lied, or song, composed in early 1817 for solo voice and piano with music by the Austrian composer Franz Schubert (1797–1828). Schubert chose to set the text of a poem by Christian Friedrich Daniel Schubart, first published in the Schwäbischer Musenalmanach in 1783. The full poem tells the story of a trout being caught by a fisherman, but in its final stanza apparently reveals its purpose as a moral piece warning young women to guard against young men.
In reality, the poem was an analogy on the fate of its writer, the poet Schubart, who for many years was imprisoned for his criticism of absolute rule in Württenberg. The last «didactic» verse was added to make the parallel less obvious.
When Schubert set the poem to music, he removed the last verse, which contained the «moral», and in order to prevent any attempt by posterity to reintroduce it, he gave the song a closed A–B-A form. In the new version the poem can be interpreted both as a tribute to the beauty of nature and a defence of the right of free speech.
The effect was also a change in the song’s focus, at the same time enabling it to be sung by both male and female singers. Schubert produced six subsequent copies of the work, all with minor variations.


In a little brook bright shot in a happy hurry,
In einem Bächlein helle da schoß in froher Eil,

The capricious trout passed like an arrow.
Die launische Forelle vorüber wie ein Pfeil.
I stood on the bank and saw in sweet calm
Ich stand an dem Gestade und sah in süßer Ruh

The cheeky Fischlein bathes in the clear brook.
Des muntern Fischleins Bade im klaren Bächlein zu.
A fisherman with the rod was probably standing on the bank,
Ein Fischer mit der Rute wohl an dem Ufer stand,

And saw with cold blood how the little fish twisted.
Und sah’s mit kaltem Blute, wie sich das Fischlein wand.
As long as the water is bright, I thought, not broken
So lang dem Wasser Helle, so dacht ich, nicht gebricht,

So he doesn’t catch the trout with his fishing rod.
So fängt er die Forelle mit seiner Angel nicht.
But finally time was too long for the thief.
Doch endlich ward dem Diebe die Zeit zu lang.

He makes
Er macht

The brook treacherously cloudy and before I thought it
Das Bächlein tückisch trübe, und eh ich es gedacht,

So his tail twitched, the little fish fidgeted,
So zuckte seine Rute, das Fischlein zappelt dran,

And I looked at the betrayed girl with brisk blood.
Und ich mit regem Blute sah die Betrogene an.
You who dwell at the golden spring of safe youth
Die ihr am goldenen Quelle der sicheren Jugend weilt,

Think of the trout, you see danger, so hurry!
Denkt doch an die Forelle, seht ihr Gefahr, so eilt!
Most of the time she’s just missing for lack of prudence, girl, see
Meist fehlt ihr nur aus Mangel der Klugheit, Mädchen, seht

Angel seduce!
Verführer mit der Angel!

Otherwise you will bleed too late!
Sonst blutet ihr zu spät!

Songwriters: Franz Schubert, Christian Friedrich Daniel Schubart