Gilmore Music Library
We tend to think of Liszt mainly as a pianist and composer of instrumental music, but he also produced numerous choral works as well as dozens of songs for solo voice and piano. Their texts are in a variety of languages, with German predominating. Liszt’s vocal music is a major part of his output, but much of it remains little known, especially in the English-speaking world.
“Ich scheide,” the song manuscript displayed here, is Liszt’s setting of a bittersweet poem of farewell by August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben (1798–1874), the poet who also wrote the words to “Deutschland, Deutschland, über alles,”which became the German national anthem (with a melody that Haydn had composed as a hymn to the Austrian emperor). Liszt composed “Ich scheide” in 1860, and it was published later that year by C.F. Kahnt, as part of a multi-volume collection entitled Franz Liszt’s gesammelte Lieder. In one of his letters, Liszt admitted that he struggled with this song, writing and destroying several versions in quick succession. One other manuscript does survive, at the Liszt Museum in Weimar, Germany.
Our manuscript of “Ich scheide” is part of the Opochinsky Collection, an extraordinary group of about 300 musical manuscripts, letters, and other documents written by prominent musicians. They were acquired by David Opochinsky, an engineer whose company, Titra-Film, provides subtitles and dubbing for the movie industry. Opochinsky, who was born in the Polish city of Lódz in 1900, was trained as a violinist at the Moscow Conservatory. (His success in business eventually enabled him to purchase violins by Stradivari and Guarneri.) He also played the piano; in fact, he got his start in the movie business as a pianist for silent films. Opochinsky moved to the United States in 1942, and he began collecting rare music documents in 1950. He died in 1974, and in 1986 his heirs generously donated his collection to Yale University. It also includes compositions, letters, or autographs by C.P.E. Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Schumann, Tchaikovsky, Dvorák, Grieg, Scriabin, Rachmaninoff, Kreisler, Casals, Bartók, Stokowski, Stravinsky, Berg, Prokofiev, Copland, and many other eminent composers and performers.