Written by Franz Schubert (1797-1828) in 1814, Gretchen am Spinnrade (Gretchen at the Spinning Wheel), D. 118, has become one of the most famous examples of German lieder from the Romantic era. This lied is a setting of text from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s tragic play “Faust.” Gretchen, a principal character in the play, sits at her spinning wheel and daydreams about Faust, who has managed to seduce her. As Schubert so often did in his lieder, he used the piano accompaniment to depict an important element of the lied. In Greten am Spinnrade, the right hand plays an undulating legato line reminiscent of a spinning wheel while the left hand staccato notes represent the treadle, which is the foot pedal used to make the wheel spin. These accompanimental figures are present throughout the entire piece, except at the climax, where Gretchen becomes distracted by the thought of Faust’s kiss and, without realizing it, stops spinning the wheel. A song filled with deep passion, Gretchen am Spinnrade presents an opportunity for the euphonium soloist to display intense musicality while conveying Gretchen’s infatuation with Faust.
Solo parts included: Euphonium (BC, TC)