'Bunte Lieder' to German poems Op. 22 – Karol Szymanowski
It was in Tymoszówka in the summer of 1910 that Szymanowski composed the five Bunte Lieder Op. 22, setting poems by his German contemporaries Karl Bulcke (No. 1 Einsiedel / The Hermit), Alfons Paquet (No. 2 Lied des Mädchens am Fenster / Song of the maiden at the window), Emil Faktor (No. 3 An kleine Mädchen / For little girls), Anna Ritter (No. 4 Das hat die Sommernacht getan / Summer night's silver miracle) and Ricard Huch (No. 5 Bestimmung / The Destiny). Szymanowski considered these songs his favourite besides Songs Op. 20 (to poems by Tadeusz Miciński), and wrote in a letter to Stefan Spiess:
... I like them almost the best of all my songs (besides the few unprinted to Miciński: Saint Francis etc.). Their comprehensibility is based on a complete (not until now) control of the form of the song with respect to its declamatory aspect and to the style of voice and piano parts. This cannot really be said about Op. 17, where there is more good music than good songs. They are awfully firm and unequivocal and totally unlike one another in character; I was greatly helped in that by the huge variety of the lyrics.1
This variety of poetic themes and styles (with amorous, fairy tale and child motives) made it possible for Szymanowski to write music of variegated colours, to use a greater palette of shades of expression and to apply different composing techniques. While remaining in the late Romantic range, Szymanowski combines numerous chromatisms with simple melorythmics and various figures in the piano part to achieve the joyous, frivolous, dancing and fairy tale mood.
It was already in 1912 that Bunte Lieder were published - in two, German and Polish, languages (translated into Polish by Stanisław Barącz) - by Vienna's publishing house Universal Edition. Szymanowski's sister, the acclaimed singer Stanisława Korwin-Szymanowska, included them in her repertoire. In 2004, at the invitation of the singer Reinild Mees, Juliana Gondek recorded them for the Dutch label Channel Classics.
1 Karol Szymanowski. Korespondencja, Tom I: lata 1903-1919, s. 248, list z dn. 11 XII 1910 do Stefana Spiesa, red. Teresa Chylińska, PWM, Kraków 1982.
Author: Anna Iwanicka-Nijakowska, September 2007.