Eifersucht und Stolz, a setting by Wilhelm Müller, was composed by Franz Schubert in 1823. It is the fifteenth lied of his song cycle, die Schöne Müllerin.
1823, the year where Schubert composed Die Schöne Müllerin, appears to be, posteriorly, a lime stone in the composer’s life. Aged 26, after many rapid evolutions, his musical style seems to reach maturity: in 1823, he will also compose the remarkable Wanderer Fantasie for piano. More tragically, it also appears to be the year where he contracted syphilis and from then on, his health will decline rapidly. In die Schöne Müllerin, Schubert chooses to set poems, all by Wilhelm Müller, a poet he was extremely found of (his song cycle, Winterreise, is another example of him setting Müller’s poems). All selected from the eponym poem collection, die Schöne Müllerin, Schubert omitted setting five of the twenty-five poems of the book. The cycle tells the story of a young traveler who falls in love with a miller’s daughter. She loves him back, at first, but soon prefers a hunter and rejects him. In Die schöne Müllerin, all the typical romantic themes seem to be intertwined ever so closely: hope, love, rejection, nature, travel and death fuse into one of the most beautiful German song cycles ever written.
Eifersucht und Stolz is the fifteenth song of die Schöne Müllerin. It follows a lied introducing a wandering miller (Das Wandern, N.1) who decides to follow a brook (Wohin?, N.2) and comes to a stop as he sees a welcoming Mill (Halt, N.3). He reflects on what is happening to him (Danksagung an den Bach, N.4), before accepting to work in this mill for the love of the miller’s daughter (Am Feierabend, N.5). Incapable of facing the one he loves, he wonders if she loves him back (der Neugeriege, N.6), expresses passion and impatience (Ungeduld, N.7), doubt and distress (Morgengruss, N.8), before planting flowers under her window hoping those will reveal his love for her (des Müllers Blumen, N.9). He, finally spends a moment with her (Tränenregen, N,10) and exults at the thought she is now his (Mein!, N.11). He reflects on the fact he is now incapable of playing his luth (Pause, N.12) and offers a ribbon to the millers’ daughter as a token of his love (Mit dem grünen Lautenbande, N.13). A hunter appears hoping to seduce the miller’s daughter (der Jäger, N.14).
In Eifersucht und Stolz, the young man confides in the brook and asks it to let the miller’s daughter know how shameful her behavior is (she is trying to seduce the hunter). The piano accompaniment with its constant, rapid, four semi-quavers seems to symbolize the rushing brook but also the furious disdain of our narrator. The vocal part is full of word painting depicting the state of mind of the young miller: the short incisive notes on the “kehr um” (turn back) figuring his imperative mode, the majesty and pride of the hunter as he comes home (bar.36), the minor color on “traurigen” (sad).