Goethe's West-Eastern Divan

29 October 2011, 1:30pm - 2:30pm

Goethe’s great collection of love poems inspired by the Persian poet Hafiz is brought to life in settings by composers from Brahms and Schumann to Beamish and Szymanowski. The concert is devised by Iranian pianist Sanaz Sotoudeh and some of Hafiz’s verses will also be read in the original Persian. The concert will be introduced by Sanaz Sotoudeh and Richard Stokes.


Generously supported by

Edward Knighton & Rosemary Cameron


Johannes Brahms:

Translations of Hafiz by Georg Daumer:
   Bittres zu sagen denkst du
   So stehn wir, ich und meine Weide
   Wie bist du, meine Königin

Suleika Lieder (from Goethe's West-Eastern Divan poetry):

   Suleika I (Franz Schubert)
   Suleika II (Felix Mendelssohn)
   Lied der Suleika (Robert Schumann)
   Als ich auf dem Euphrat schiffte (Wolf)
   Nimmer will ich dich verlieren (Wolf)

Karol Szymanowski:

Des Hafiz Liebeslieder, Op.24 (Hafiz, trans. Hans Bethge):
   1. Wünsche
   2. Die einzige Arzenei
   3. Die brennenden Tulpen   
   4. Tanz
   5. Der verliebte Ostwind
   6. Trauriger Frühling

Sally Beamish:

Four songs from Hafiz (2007) (Hafiz, trans. Jila Peacock)

 “... ideas of universal love, wisdom, and polarity of East and West in one work”.
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau

The Divan is a collected book of love poetry by the 14th century Persian Poet, Hafiz, which deeply inspired many poets of the 19th century, particularly the German poet Johann Wolfgang Goethe. The major themes of Hafiz poetry are love, the celebration of wine and intoxication, and exposing the hypocrisy of those who have set themselves up as guardians, judges and examples of moral rectitude.

Goethe wrote his West-Eastern Divan between 1814 and 1819. It consists of 12 books by the names of: "Books of Hafiz", "The Singer", "Reflection", "Love", "Humour", "Maxims", "Timur", "Suleika", "The Cupbearer", "Parables", "The Parsees", and "The Paradise". Goethe’s verses, according to the renowned German interpreter of Schubert’s songs Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, were meant to “combine ideas of universal love, wisdom, and polarity of East and West in one work”. Goethe believed that it was “now high time to envisage a humane global philosophy with no regard for nationality and creed and that the East and the West were not separate from each other”.

Not only Goethe but many other German philosophers and poets of the 19th century were inspired by Hafiz and translated his poetry into German. Brahms Op.32 songs, for example, are predominantly settings of Hafiz poetry by Georg Daumer. 

Part of this program features the Suleika songs of Wolf, Schumann and Schubert. Suleika is the beloved of Hafiz, in Goethe's "West-Eastern Divan". The two Suleika poems that set by Schubert were in fact written by the sixty-year-old Goethe's inamoratas, Marianne von Willemer. Suleika was the Persian woman of extreme beauty who inspired much love poetry. In these songs Suleika, separated from her lover in the East, feels his greeting in the East wind that caresses her cheek.

The concert also includes readings of poetry in Persian and German.

2011 brochure

14 October 2011 | 9:00am

2011 Festival: 10 Year Anniversary

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29 October 2011, 11:00am - 12:00pm
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Sarah Connolly & Eugene Asti
29 October 2011, 7:00pm - 8:30pm

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