Peter Cornelius, born December 24 1824, was a German composer and poet known for both his significant contributions to 19th-century classical music and his literary talents. Born in Mainz, Germany, Cornelius exhibited an exceptional talent for music from a young age. Cornelius's formal musical education began when he enrolled at the University of Bonn, where he studied composition and music theory under the tutelage of the renowned composer and conductor Carl Ritter. In 1846, Cornelius moved to Berlin. There, he was influenced by other prominent composers including Richard Wagner and Felix Mendelssohn. This period of his life was instrumental in shaping his artistic direction.
Peter Cornelius' received critical acclaim following his composition of the opera "Der Barbier von Bagdad" (The Barber of Baghdad) in 1858. This comic opera, filled with lyrical melodies and whimsical characters, earned him widespread recognition and established his reputation as a significant figure in the operatic world. Cornelius' innovative approach to opera composition, blending elements of humor and fantasy, set him apart from his contemporaries.
In addition to his musical endeavors, Peter Cornelius was an accomplished poet, contributing to the rich tradition of German literature. His literary talents greatly influenced his songwriting, resulting in the seamless integration of text and music in his compositions. This earned him recognition as a leading figure in the German Lied tradition. One of Cornelius' most celebrated works is his collection of songs titled "Weihnachtslieder" (Christmas Songs), which includes the enduringly popular "Drei Könige wandern aus Morgenland" (Three Kings from Persian lands afar).
Sadly, Peter Cornelius's life was cut tragically short. He struggled with health issues throughout his life, exacerbated by alcoholism and financial difficulties. Cornelius passed away on October 26, 1874, at the age of 49, leaving behind a body of work that continues to be celebrated to this day.
Soprano Molly Ryan is completing her fourth year of a Bachelor of Music Performance (Classical Voice) at the Sydney Conservatorium, studying with Maree Ryan AM. During her studies, Molly has been the recipient of various scholarships and awards including the PATIM Fund scholarship, the Helen Myers Scholarship, the Florence Mary Verga-Smith Award and the Henderson Travellers Scholarship which recently afforded her the opportunity to perform in opera scenes at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, United Kingdom. Molly’s performed operatic roles include Theodora in Theodora (Handel), Die Hexe in Hänsel und Gretel (Humperdinck), La Princesse in L’enfant et les sortilèges (Ravel), Belinda and Second Witch in Dido and Aeneas (Purcell), Susanna in Il Segretto di Susanna (Wolf-Ferarri), Maguelonne and Armelinde in Cendrillon (Viardot), Autumn, Mystery, Fairy and Soprano soloist in The Fairy Queen (Purcell) and Clorinda in Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda (Monteverdi). Her concert repertoire includes soprano soloist in Messiah (Handel), Missa in Angustiis (Haydn), Missa Cellensis (Haydn), Requiem (Faure), BWV 191 (Bach) and Hierusalem (Dyson). Molly has performed as a soloist with the North Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra, Bel A Capella, Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Ecumenical Choir, Concordia Ensemble, Musgrove Opera and St Paul’s College Chapel Choir where she also sings a soprano choral scholar. She looks forward to joining Hobart’s Allegri Ensemble and Wollongong’s Illawarra Choral Society later this year as well as singing with the Radio Community Chest at Sydney’s Town Hall Messiah. Molly’s competition successes include being a finalist in the Demant Dreikurs Song Scholarship Competition. Masterclasses include that by Dr Graham Johnson OBE, David Miller AM, Lynne Dawson and Christian Mueller.
"Die Bekehrte" by Hugo Wolf, from Goethe Lieder, no.27 (Goethe)
Die Bekehrte from the Goethe Lieder book is a follow on and response to the previous song Die Sprӧde. Whilst in Die Sprӧde the shepherdess freely and nonchalantly plays with the attention of many suitors, in Die Bekehrte, she has been ensnared by one. His flute-playing enraptured her, and she reminisces his sweet touch and kisses. However, in the last stanza of the poem, we hear melancholy. The shepherdess has come to a realisation of the reality that has occurred and perhaps ponders what her future may hold. She reminisces back on the “innocence” she had before she became entranced by the beautiful “Damon”.
Mignon II, “Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt” from Goethe lieder by Hugo Wolf (GOethe)
This song by Wolf is from Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship novel by Goethe. The text has been set by many of the famous lied composers including Schubert and Schumann. Wolf's version demonstrates as in the book, that Mignon is temperamental, almost to the extent of mental illness. It is pre-Freudian but also seems to indicate a readiness of the psychological work of Sigmund Freud with hysterical aspects of trauma with his female patients.
“Auf der Riesenkoppe” by Franz schubert, D.611 (Körner)
Auf Der Riesenkoppe is a song of admiration towards nature and homeland. This is the last of the Körner settings, composed three years after the others. The Riesenkoppe is one of the giant peaks making up a mountain chain (the Riesengebirge) near the poet's hometown of Dresden. These mountains are also very near Zuckmantel, the birthplace of Schubert's mother. The song places the narrator in these mountains, joyfully viewing all of nature around them and their homeland from a distance. The last stanza in particular is a hymn of blessing and greeting towards their homeland and their loved ones there.
"Ganymed" by Franz Schubert, OP. 19/3 D544 (Goethe)
“Ganymed” is a setting of Goethe’s poem by the same name. The poem depicts the young Ganymede of Greek mythology, who was considered the most beautiful of all mortal men. Zeus, enamoured by the Trojan mortal’s divine beauty, abducts him and transports him to Olympus to become Zeus’ eternal cupbearer. In the first two verses, Ganymede observes and is seduced by the beauty of spring and the natural Earthly world. Schubert’s setting of the final stanza depicts Ganymede’s transportation through the clouds upwards towards the gods, ending on his ecstatic union with Zeus, his all-loving father, in Olympus.
"Fruhling in sommer" by Peter Cornelius, no.53 (Kuh)
Frühling im Sommer, translating to “Spring in Summer”, was composed by Peter Cornelius and set to poetry by Austrian poet Emil Kuh. Cornelius set four of Kuh’spoems, with each song reflecting Kuh’s tone of warm-hearted, twinkling humour. In Frühling im Sommer, the vocal line unfolds over a floated tapestry in the piano, with a different accompaniment for each of the four strophes as the singer apostrophises the natural world which surrounds them.
"Nimmersatte Liebe" by Hugo Wolf, Mörike -Lieder: No.9 (Mörike)
Nimmersatte Liebe is the ninth song from Wolf’s Mörike-Lieder. Translating to “Insatiable Love”, this amusing piece explores the intensity and complexity of love. Wolf idolisedMörike’s approach to poetry, with his poems being regarded for their humour and use of language. Mörike’s humorous and ironic tone is most evident in the second stanza, which likens love to pain. Wolf’s setting emphasises the poem’s jest, with the composer’s directionin the final stanza, “mit humour”, demonstrating the playful tone which permeates much of the cycle.
“Die Liebe” is one of Schubert’s earlier works, composed in 1815 when he was just 18 years old. It explores the different facets of love through a contrast between tender, lyrical passages and dramatic declamatory phrases. It chronical both the beautiful and torturous elements of love’s spell, taking the listener on a short but rousing journey. “Die Liebe” gives us a glimpse into a young Schubert’s compositional and thematic ideas which would further develop in his later more prominent works such as “Winterreise” and “Schwanengesang”.
"MEIN LIEBSTER HAT ZU TISCHE MICH GELADEN" BY HUGO WOLF, FROM ITALIENISCHES LIEDERBUCH (HEYSE)
“Mein Liebster hat zu Tische mich geladen" tells the story of a woman who has been invited to dinner by her beloved (Mein Liebster) but comes to find that the material offerings at the dinner table are less than adequate. The woman comes to find that the invitation to dinner does not include a stove for boiling nor a small casket of wine. "Mein Liebster hat zu Tische mich geladen," addresses the conflicting, but often co-existing, ideas of love, inadequacy, and societal expectations. Hugo Wolf explores the conflicting emotions which arise from a subpar offering of hospitality is paired with genuinely sincere and prevailing feelings of love. “Mein Liebster hat zu Tische michgeladen," crafts a fascinating narrative which encompasses profound themes that resonate with audiences across time.
"KENNST DU DAS LAND?" BY HUGO WOLF, FROM GOETHE-LIEDER, NO.9 (GOETHE
“Kennst du das Land” is a lied by Hugo Wolf which features a poignant exploration of longing for a distant, idealised realm. This piece is based on the character Mignon from Goethe’s novel “Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship”. Mignon is 13 year-old girl who was kidnapped from her homeland of Italy by a troupe of acrobats, and brought to Germany. A young merchant, Wilhelm, then buys her freedom and develops a complex relationship with Mignon based on care, paternal affection and a deep sense of emotional attachment. Mignon’s longing, sense of exile and desire to belong are both beautifully and tragically portrayed by Wolf in this setting as she dreams of returning to her homeland with Wilhelm. “Kennst du das Land” blends elements of romanticism, melancholy, and introspection to invite the listener to immerse themselves in Mignon’s inner world.
Du bist die Ruh" is a renowned German art song composed by Franz Schubert with lyrics by Friedrich Rückert. This piece beautifully encapsulates a sense of tranquility and inner peace, with the singer addressing their beloved as the embodiment of serenity and calmness. The lyrics express love and the idea that the beloved is the source of solace and emotional refuge for the singer. Through its flowing melodies and gentle harmonies, the music poignantly conveys the theme of finding solace and comfort in the presence of a loved one, making it a timeless and cherished piece in the world of classical music.
"DER GÄRTNER" BY HUGO WOLf
"Der Gärtner" is a poignant German art song composed by Hugo Wolf with lyrics by Eduard Mörike. It delves into the theme of unrequited love as a gardener tends to an unattainable rose in his garden. Hugo Wolf was known for his intense emotional connection to the texts he set to music, often undergoing deep personal struggles while composing, which added a profound depth of feeling to his compositions. Wolf's ability to convey raw emotions through music is particularly evident in "Der Gärtner," making it a notable piece within his repertoire.
"VERSCHWIEGENE LIEBE" BY HUGO WOLF
Hugo Wolf’s “Verschwiegene Liebe” (Silent Love) captures the unspoken anguish that accompanies concealed affectation. This is amplified by soft, intimate melodies that harmonise seamlessly with the ever-shifting emotional landscape of Joseph von Eichendorff’s verses. Wolf’s chromatic harmonies add layers of complexity, reflecting the profound depth of the emotion within the poetry. The delicate yet deliberate piano arpeggios serve as a subtle backdrop, evoking the essence of whispered confidences, while the judicious application of dynamics infuse each phrase with a wealth of expressive depth. This song is said to have been written in one sudden flash of inspiration, which immediately followed Wolf’s first reading of the poem. Through “Verschwiegene Liebe”, one can experience Hugo Wolf’s mastery at uniting poetry and music, providing performances with a canvas upon which to paint the portrait of concealed yearning and profound longing. It is within these hidden realms that both the performers and audience are invited to embark upon their own journey of discovery.
MIGNON II, “NUR WER DIE SEHNSUCHT KENNT” BY FRANZ SCHUBERT (GOETHE)
The third song of Franz Schubert’s “Gesänge aus ‘Wilhelm Meister’”, “Lied der Mignon” shares its name with the second and fourth songs of the same cycle, however it can be identified by the name of the poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe set by Schubert in the piece, “Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt”. Meaning “Only he who knows longing”, the poem was set to music by Schubert 6 times, 2 of which appear in this cycle, the other being the first song, sung as a duet. The poem is centred around intense longing and loneliness, as Goethe’s original context revolves around Mignon yearning for her home, while her father longs to find his daughter, unaware he is with her already.
'DIE SPINNERIN' by Hugo Wolf from '6 Lieder für eine Frauenstimme' (Rückert)
“Die Spinnerin”, meaning “The spinning girl”, is the third song in Hugo Wolf’s song cycle “6 Lieder für eine Frauenstimme”. In it, the singer, a young girl, implores her mother to allow her to leave her spinning wheel and go and wander outside. She describes the scenery outside, and assures her mother that if she sees any boys in ‘wild gangs’, she’ll make sure to leave right away, but will not deny that if she was approached by a nice boy with flowers for her, she really should be kind to him. Notably, the song ends on an unresolved dominant chord, leaving us in a state of uncertainty, as we never get to hear her mother’s response.
"VERBORGENHEIT" by Hugo Wolf
“Verborgenheit” (Seclusion) can be considered one of Hugo Wolf’s most famous Lieder, seamlessly blending the eloquent verses of Eduard Mörike with profound musical artistry. This art song acts as a portal into the heart of solitude and introspection, allowing a poignant glimpse into the innermost chambers of the human soul. Wolf’s composition artfully wields subtlety as its greatest strength. The piano, with its delicate arpeggios, conjures an atmosphere of seclusion, akin to a solitary exploration of one’s deepest thoughts. This is amplified by luscious vocal phrases that convey Mörike’s contemplative odyssey, while harmonies, rich and with emotional depth, underscore moments of serenity, yearning and self-discovery. Within “Verborgenheit” there is an intimate revelation of emotions, where the performer, employing nuanced dynamics and lyrical interpretation, invites both themselves and the audience into the very essence of the piece, creating a profound tapestry of human experience. Indeed, “Verborgenheit” beckons us to journey into the hidden realms of self-discovery and contemplation, where the soul’s whispers are distinctly heard, and emotions are unveiled with grace though tender melodies and poetic resonance.
"Du kleine Biene, verfolg mich nicht" by Perter Cornelius (Kuh)
Du kleine Biene, verfolg’ mich nicht Peter Cornelius (1824 - 1874). “Du kleine Biene, verfolg mich nicht”, which in English translates to “You little bee, don’t chase me”, was discovered and published after the death of its composer, Peter Cornelius. Believed to have been composed in the summer of 1859, it is intriguing to wonder what thoughts a then 35-year-old Cornelius could have penned but not shared with the world through his interpretation of Emil Kuh’s text. The bee that chases the protagonist is, in fact, a manifestation of his own bitterness stemming from having to part with the one he loves.
"Der Müller und der Bach" by franz schubert, from Die schöne Müllerin, D. 795, #19 (Müller)
Der Müller und der Bach (The Miller and the Brook) is from Schubert’s song cycle entitled Die Schöne Müllerin (The Miller’s Beautiful Daughter). Die Schöne Müllerin is considered the first great song cycle of the 19th century. The cycle tells a tragic story of a traveling journeyman who apprentices with a miller at a watermill next to a stream. The young man falls in love with the miller’s daughter. When he realizes his feelings are not shared by the beautiful girl, he drowns himself in the river. This song is the 19th and second to last of Die Schöne Müllerin. At this point in the story the young man is overcome with jealousy due to his beloved falling for another man (the hunter). He has decided to drown himself in the brook. At the end of the song, he goes under the water, finds rest, and asks the brook to sing on.
"Erlkönig" by franz schubert, Op. 1, D. 328, by Franz Schubert (Goethe)
Erlkönig, Op. 1, D. 328 Franz Schubert (1797 - 1828)
Through the dark woods, father and son are riding on horseback to reach home at night. The frightened boy hears the voice of the Erlking and is possessed by the sweet invitation that calls for him. The fear becomes greater throughout the ballad until the Erlking finally reaches the boy and takes his life away. The singer has the challenging role of being the boy, father, the Erlking and the narrator. Schubert writes the Erlking’s part in the major key for most of the time, until it reveals his fearful side and changes to the minor key at the very end which has a strong dramatic effect.
We would like to thank all for attending the 2023 DDSSC Singing Competition!
A special thank you to: - Our accompanists - Judging Panel - Special Guests