F. Schubert "The Forest King": history, content, interesting facts

F. Schubert "Forest King"

Chamber-vocal music is a type of art, a great contribution to the development of which was made by Franz Schubert. It was this distinguished Austrian romantic composer who rediscovered the vocal ballad expressively depicting various human feelings and combining the narrative with a pictorial depiction of various fantasy fictions. A striking example of this is his work "The Forest King", in which an incredible amount of tension and drama performers show listeners in just four minutes.

History of creation

In 1815 Franz Schubert, returning to the parental home after graduating from the seminary, became the assistant teacher at the school where his father taught. Dreaming to be engaged only in composer creativity, Franz devoted every free minute to composing music. As a result of active enthusiasm for composition in 1815 alone, the young composer created almost 150 songs, 2 symphonies, 4 operas, 2 masses, a string quartet and 2 piano sonatas. Among all this variety of creations of young Schubert was the ballad "Forest King".

Subsequently, composer’s friend Joseph von Schpoon, in his memoirs, wrote that when they went to visit Franz, who was still living in his father’s house at that time, they saw Schubert reading the ballad Johann Wolfgang von Goethe with enthusiasm " Forest King. " Inspired by the composition of his beloved poet and playwright, the composer suddenly sat down at the table and for a short time expressed all his impressions of his work on the sheet of musical paper on the sheet of musical paper. But since there was no piano in the house, and everyone was wondering what exactly happened, my friends, without hesitation, decided to go to the convent that evening to listen to Franz’s new composition. At school, they were met by organist Wenzel Ruzicka, who, after listening to the request of former students, immediately sat down and played a new work by his talented pupil. Delights respected musician there was no limit.

Schubert, being very demanding of himself in the work, three times, making changes, revised his ballad and only five years after the creation allowed him to perform it for the first time at one of the private meetings. After that, the final version of "The Forest King" was published only in 1821, and in the same year the public premiere of the work took place in the famous Kärntnertor Theater in Vienna.

Interesting Facts

  • Until now, four different versions of Franz Schubert's ballet "The Forest King" have been preserved. The third version has special differences from all: the accompaniment is greatly simplified, since there are no triplets in the right-hand part.
  • The ballad of Schubert is considered one of the most difficult to perform, both for vocalists and the accompanying musicians. For example, in order to convey all the drama of this composition, the pianist has to repeat the octaves and complex chords at a fast pace in tension.
  • The ballad of Goethe's "The Forest Tsar" touched not only Franz Schubert with its dramatic plot. For example, the German composer Karl Löwe composed his musical version of "The Forest King" to the verses of a poet of genius. The popular German rock band "Rammstein" has a song called "Dalai Lama", the text of which is based on Goethe's ballad. In the repertoire of the young group from St. Petersburg "Woodscream" there is also the composition "Forest King" and the text in it completely corresponds to the content of the ballad.
  • The outstanding Hungarian composer Ferenc Liszt, who loved Schubert's work very much, made a transcription for piano on the theme of the ballad "The Forest King". In addition, the Austrian violinist and composer Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst also performed the arrangement of vocal miniatures, but only for violin solo. The French composer did not stand aside either. Hector Berliozwho orchestrated the famous ballad.


The ballad of the great Goethe's "Forest King", with a plot borrowed from the Danish legend, could not fail to attract Franz Schubert. In addition to the exciting dramatic plot, there is a fantastic image here, and fabulous fiction has always been welcomed by romantics.

The work tells how in the twilight a cold horse rider with a sick little child rides on horseback in the cold at times along the forest road. It seems to the son that the forest king is calling him to himself. The father calms the baby, explaining that all this only seems to him. The child screams in fright and the father tugs the horse harder. However, when he went, the child was already dead.

There are four characters in the ballad: the narrator, the father, the son and the forest king, and they are all voiced by one vocalist. This is difficult for the singer, since each actor is depicted in a certain range and with various rhythmic patterns.

The story of the narrator, permeated with dramatic intonations, since it is he who has to announce the death of the child, is performed in the baritone range. For the child, the composer chose a high tenor tessitura. His party is performed with great tension, and each of its new performances is performed half a tone higher, which increases the emotional intensity. The image of the Forest Tsar is outlined by a enticing sweet melody played on pianissimo in the middle tenor register. Father's part is sung in the bass register.

In the ballad there is a fifth character - this is a horse. Fast triplets sounding in the accompaniment throughout the entire work imitate the blows of its hooves.


Ballad Franz Schubert "Forest King" - a real masterpiece of chamber vocal lyrics. This work today is recognized as one of the greatest creations of all that has ever been created in this genre. World-famous vocalists consider it an honor to have this essay by Schubert in his repertoire, since it is precisely during his performance that the singer has what talent and skill he has.

Watch the video: The Best of Schubert (October 2019).

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