Morgengruss, a setting by Wilhelm Müller, was composed by Franz Schubert in 1823. It is the eighth 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.
Morgengruss is the eighth 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) and expresses passion and impatience (Ungeduld, N.7).
In Morgengruss, our protagonist’s shyness and his incapacity of declare his love to the miller’s daughter, leaves him full of doubt and uncertainty. Schubert sets the poem into a strophic structure (AAAA), likewise the precedent song. The piano part oscillates between open chords and an arpeggiated accompaniment while the melody, at the vocal part, soars through distress, distrust and sadness.