Songs of unrequited love will fill the air at Sidmouth Parish Church

Tenor Nick Pritchard

Tenor Nick Pritchard - Credit: Archant

The concept of a cycle of songs on a theme was created by Beethoven but, arguably, then developed to its zenith by Schubert in only a short space of time. A recital in Sidmouth Parish Church brings both of these milestones together.

Piano accompanist Ian Tindale.

Piano accompanist Ian Tindale. - Credit: Archant

Under sponsorship from the Countess of Munster Musical Trust, tenor Nick Pritchard and piano accompanist Ian Tindale perform at 3pm on Saturday, January 21, as part of the Sidmouth Music series of recitals.

Their programme opens with Beethoven’s An die ferne Geliebte (To the distant beloved). The words are a set of six verses by a minor poet, portraying the separation of two lovers. Beethoven set these to music in 1816 and created a new art form in the process. He also seemed to be expressing his own sadness at having lost the love of his life. Antonia Brentano, the lady in question, is said to have reciprocated Beethoven’s feelings but, already married, had recently left for Frankfurt with her husband.

The songs tell of the poet reflecting on his loss against scenes of nature. The hills and mountains show the solitude he feels, the clouds, the brook, the birds and the breeze, he hopes, will convey his message to his lost love, but to no avail. While the birds are building nests, the poet remains alone.

It was then only seven years after Beethoven’s ‘autobiographical’ set that Schubert discovered a set of 20 poems among a friend’s books. He immediately started composing a sublime set of songs published in 1824 as Die schöne Müllerin (The fair maid of the mill). His songs tell the poetic story of a wandering miller walking alongside a brook when he finds a mill, and work.

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There, he also encounters the owner’s daughter to whom he loses his heart.

The girl’s affections, however, are stolen away by a huntsman and the miller seeks solace in the burbling of the brook, where he tragically ends his life. Stephen Huyshe-Shires,

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Tickets at £16 are available from Paragon Books or on the door, with more information from 01395 514618 or

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