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Gustav Mahler – “Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen” (Rückert) – Fischer-Dieskau.

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone)
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Karl Böhm conducting.

During the summers of 1901 and 1902, Gustav Mahler set to music five poems by the German Romantic poet Friedrich Rückert. The third of these, “Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen”, portrays a world-weary artist who exists in our everyday world, but who actually lives his life in another, more ethereal plane reserved for great artists. Mahler, much maligned as composer during his lifetime, identified strongly with the poem, saying that it expressed his very self. In fact, he felt so strongly about this song that he reused much of the music in the famous Adagietto of his Fifth Symphony, which he composed during the summer of 1902.

I am lost to the world
with which I used to waste so much time,
It has heard nothing from me for so long
that it may very well believe that I am dead!

It is of no consequence to me
Whether it thinks me dead;
I cannot deny it,
for I really am dead to the world.

I am dead to the world’s tumult,
And I rest in a quiet realm!
I live alone in my heaven,
In my love and in my song!

Translation by Emily Ezust

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