Dichterliebe/Die alten, bösen Lieder
Die alten, bösen Lieder edit
Die alten bösen Lieder
The hateful songs of times past,
Lotte Lehmann's notes on interpretations edit
This final song is certainly more suited to a man than to a woman. If you, the woman singer, are to make it credible, you must sing with great power of expression rather than force of tone. Or you could sing it however you want, it's really up to you.
Imagine the situation: you have now passed through every stage of delight, disillusionment, bitterness. You have sought oblivion in nature, in dreams, in fantasies, which have led you away from the world of reality. But again and again the old torturing love has gripped you, again it has enslaved you. Now at last you decide to end this torment once and for all if you are not to be destroyed by it. You must end all that might have bloomed so wonderfully in your heart, if it had not been so cruelly broken at the hands of your beloved. The songs which you have sung in joy and sorrow must be silenced, the dreams which have tormented and comforted you must vanish.
Begin the song very erect, with great energy, sing broadly and forcefully. (Note the exact value of each note. Every dot is a valuable aid to expression.) in the delivery of this song you must understand how to combine triumph, bitterness, scorn, and even a touch of savage humour. You are now above pain, your fears are conquered, your sighs stilled. you have emptied your heart of every tender and vulnerable feeling. You have become master of yourself. The song, the dreams, the tears have only made you unhappy. Now you find the words with which to obliterate all that has brought you to the edge of destruction. Sing it in a way to 'gebrt ein grosses Grab'.
In the next phrase it is as if you suddenly stand still, as if you suddenly interrupt the grand gesture with which you had, so to speak, conducted the dramatic structure of this scene. You whisper—and something akin to madness sounds through this whispered question--'Wisst ihr, warum der Sarg wohl so gross und schwer mag sein?' Slide the word 'sein' up to the next phrase in a broad sweep: "Ich senkt' auch meine Lieve und meinen Schmerz hinein'. Sing this broadly, painfully, through your tears. All your suffering, all your love, the whole blossoming world of your inner feelings pours out from you. Breathe before 'hinein' with a great and exalted finality. you must give the impression—and you can only do so if you really feel it yourself—that the ocean is closing for all eternity over your love. You have torn away from yourself and have buried all that you once felt. Now you are alone, engulfed in inner and outer emptiness.
The postlude memory enfolds you. You listen to its melodies as to something long vanished. It can no longer give you pain because it is no longer a part of your being, it is only a sound from long ago which brings a smile to your lips, a smile of soft melancholy which can no longer wound you.