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album art Hyperion's Song of Destiny (poem written by Friedrich Hölderlin)
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Released: Jun 23, 2007 | 7:00 AM
Category: Inspirational
Application: GarageBand
Loop Use: Some loops

File Type: .mp3
File Size: 9.57 MB

Plays: 15671
Downloads: 43
Weekly Plays: 30
Weekly Downloads: 0
Statistic reset day: Saturday

License: No derivative works allowed
Johann Christian Friedrich Hölderlin (March 20, 1770 - June 6, 1843) was a major German lyric poet. His work bridges the Classical and Romantic schools.


Hölderlin was born in Lauffen am Neckar in the kingdom of Württemberg. He studied Theology at the Tübinger Stift (seminary of the Protestant Church in Württemberg), where he was friends and roommates with the future philosophers Georg Hegel and Friedrich Schelling. They mutually influenced one another, and it has been speculated that it was probably Hölderlin who brought to Hegel's attention the ideas of Heraclitus about the union of opposites, which the philosopher would develop into his concept of dialectics.

Being from a family of limited means (his mother was twice a widow), and having little inclination for an ecclesiastical career, Hölderlin had to earn his living as a tutor of children of well-to-do families. While working as the tutor of the sons of Jakob Gontard, a Frankfurt banker, he fell in love with his employer's wife Susette, who would become his great love. Susette Gontard is the model for the Diotima of his epistolary novel, Hyperion.

Having been publicly insulted by Gontard, Hölderlin felt forced to quit his job in the banker's household and found himself again in a difficult financial situation (even as some of his poems were already being published through the influence of his occasional protector, the poet Friedrich Schiller), having to accept a small allowance from his mother.
Already at this time he was diagnosed as suffering from a severe "hypochondria", a condition that would worsen after his last meeting with Susette Gontard in 1800. In early 1802 he found a job as tutor of the children of the Hamburg consul in Bordeaux, France, and traveled by foot to that city. His travel and stay there are celebrated in Andenken (Remembrance), one of his greatest poems. In a few months, however, he would be back in Germany showing signs of mental disorder, which was aggravated by the news of Susette's death.

In 1807, having become largely insane, he was brought into the home of Ernst Zimmer, a Tübingen carpenter with literary leanings, who was an admirer of his Hyperion. For the next 36 years, Hölderlin would live in Zimmer's house, in a tower room overlooking the beautiful Neckar valley, being cared for by the Zimmer family until his death in 1843. Wilhelm Waiblinger, a young poet and admirer, has left a poignant account of Hölderlin's day-to-day life during these long, empty years.


The poetry of Hölderlin, widely recognized today as one of the highest points of German literature, slipped into obscurity shortly after his death; his illness and reclusion made him fade from his contemporaries' consciousness and, even though selections of his work were being published by his friends already during his lifetime, it was largely ignored for the rest of the 19th century, Hölderlin being classified as a mere imitator of Schiller, a romantic and melancholy youth. He was rediscovered only slowly, and only in the 20th century was the first complete edition of his writings put together by Norbert von Hellingrath, a member of the circle around poet Stefan George.

In fact, Hölderlin was a man of his time, an early supporter of the French Revolution - in his youth at the Seminary of Tübingen, he and some colleagues from a "republican club" planted a "Tree of Freedom" in the market square, prompting the Grand-Duke himself to admonish the students at the seminary. He was at first carried away by Napoleon, whom he honors in one of his couplets (it should be noted that his exact contemporary Beethoven also initially dedicated his Eroica to the Corsican general).

Like Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Schiller, his older contemporaries, Hölderlin was a fervent admirer of ancient Greek culture, but had a very personal understanding of it. Much later, Friedrich Nietzsche and his followers would recognize in him the poet who first acknowledged the orphic and dionysiac Greece of the mysteries, which he would fuse with the Pietism of his native Swabia in a highly original religious experience. For Hölderlin, the Greek gods were not the plaster figures of conventional classicism, but living, actual presences, wonderfully life-giving and, at the same time, terrifying. He understood and sympathized with the Greek idea of the tragic fall, which he expressed movingly in the last stanza of his Hyperions Schicksalslied "Hyperion's Song of Destiny".

In the great poems of his maturity, Hölderlin would generally adopt a large-scale, expansive and unrhymed style. Together with these long hymns and elegies which included Der Archipelagus "The Archipelago", Brot und Wein "Bread and Wine" and Patmos- he also cultivated a crisper, more concise manner in epigrams and couplets, and in short poems like the famous Hälfte des Lebens "The Middle of life". In his years of madness, he would occasionally pen ingenuous rhymed quatrains, sometimes of a childlike beauty, which he would sign with fantastic names (such as "Scardanelli". Some went so far as to claim that his late poems written in the asylum the so-called "tower poems", full of "Homeric beauty", were the crystallization of his thoughts, and thus the greatest part of his works; and that his madness was indeed a voluntary one. Such claims are generally dismissed as romantic exaggeration today.


Though Hölderlin's hymnic style - dependent as it is on a genuine belief in the divinity can hardly be transposed without sounding parodistic, his shorter and more fragmentary lyric has exerted its influence in German poetry, from Georg Trakl onwards, and his elegiac mode has found an apt successor in Rainer Maria Rilke. He also had an influence on the poetry of Herman Hesse.

Hölderlin earned some negative notoriety during his lifetime by his translations of Sophocles, which were considered awkward and contrived. In the 20th century, theorists of translation like Walter Benjamin have vindicated them, showing their importance as a new and greatly influential model of poetic translation.

Hölderlin was a poet-thinker who wrote, fragmentarily, on poetic theory and philosophical matters. His theoretical works, such as the essays Das Werden im Vergehen "Becoming in Dissolution" and Urteil und Sein "Judgement and Being" are insightful and important if somewhat tortuous and difficult to parse. They raise many of the key problems also addressed by his Tübingen roommates Hegel and Schelling. And, though his poetry was never "theory-driven", the interpretation and exegesis of some of his more difficult poems has given rise to profound philosophical speculation by such divergent thinkers as Martin Heidegger and Theodor Adorno.


Hölderlin's poetry has inspired many composers, perhaps the most famous example being the Schicksalslied by Brahms, a setting of Hyperions Schicksalslied. Other composers to have made settings of his poems include Peter Cornelius, Hans Pfitzner, Richard Strauss (Drei Hymnen), Max Reger (An die Hoffnung), Richard Wetz (Hyperion), Josef Matthias Hauer, Stefan Wolpe, Paul Hindemith whose First Piano Sonata is inspired by Hölderlin's poem 'Der Main', Benjamin Britten, Hans Werner Henze whose Seventh Symphony is also partly inspired by Hölderlin, Bruno Maderna (Hyperion, Stele an Diotima),Heinz Holliger (the Scardanelli-Zyklus), Hans Zender (Hölderlin lesen I-IV), Hanns Eisler (Hollywood Liederbuch), Viktor Ullmann, Hans Zender, Wolfgang von Schweinitz and Wolfgang Rihm. Robert Schumann's late piano suite Gesänge der Fruhe was inspired by Hölderlin, as was Luigi Nono's string quartet Stille, an Diotima.

Hyperions Schicksalslied
von Friedrich Hölderlin

Ihr wandelt droben im Licht
Auf weichem Boden, selige Genien!
Glänzende Götterlüfte
Rühren euch leicht,
Wie die Finger der Künstlerin
Heilige Saiten.

Schicksallos, wie der schlafende
Säugling, atmen die Himmlischen;
Keusch bewahrt
In bescheidener Knospe,
Blühet ewig
Ihnen der Geist,
Und die seligen Augen
Blicken in stiller
Ewiger Klarheit.

Doch uns ist gegeben,
Auf keiner Stätte zu ruhn,
Es schwinden, es fallen
Die leidenden Menschen
Blindlings von einer
Stunde zur andern,
Wie Wasser von Klippe
Zu Klippe geworfen,
Jahr lang ins Ungewisse hinab.

Hyperion's Song of Destiny
by Fr. Hölderlin

Holy spirits, you walk up there
in the light, on soft earth.
Shining god-like breezes
touch upon you gently,
as a woman's fingers
play music on holy strings.

Like sleeping infants the gods
breathe without any plan;
the spirit flourishes continually
in them, chastely kept,
as in a small bud,
and their holy eyes
look out in still
eternal clearness.

A place to rest
isn't given to us.
Suffering humans
decline and blindly fall
from one hour to the next,
like water thrown
from cliff to cliff,
year after year,
down into the Unknown.

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k6 Artist

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This is a masterpiece !!!
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10 years ago
dirigent Artist

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Amazing track - yes it's a masterpiece.
Thank you for your information about the great German philosopher.
I've always loved Brahms: Schicksalslied.
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10 years ago
ddball Listener

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Not just the music is inspirational. The material you provide is also fascinating.

I see Hyperion when Ilisten to this. smiley

Y'know, you might be a redkneck if:
If you think one of the only good things about cars is that now there is a lot less horse stealing.
If you've ever bought a car where everything makes noise except the horn.
If you think a complete, seven-piece camping outfit is a blanket and six-pack.
If your favorite mall is three pickups backed up to the highway.
If the only streetlight in your town is an RC machine in front of the general store.
If people often decide to follow you up on the next elevator for any reason.
If you are not a lawyer, but spend more time in court than Perry Mason.
If you were your ex-wife's sixth husband.
If you think good manners is pulling cream in your coffee before you pour it in your saucer.
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10 years ago
eagle Artist

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this is exceptional Narad, it seems i cannot rate it [dont know why] but you deserve 10 stars for it...!
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10 years ago
Xolv Artist

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Latest Song: Never Mind
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10 years ago
morfadrena Artist

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excellent,it's a superb work!
Latest Song: western rock IV
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8 years ago
Arbori Artist

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WHAOOOOOUUUH !!! This is amazing, I didn't know this facet of your music dear Harald !!
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8 years ago
pharmakeus Artist

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Astounding musical interpretation of a great poem!
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7 years ago
NegativeGreen Listener

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Bravo!! Wonderful track and as said above, very interesting info about Hölderlin... I knew an Ernst Zimmer years ago but he was from Munich, probably a different guy smiley Peace
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2 years ago

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