Translation © by Sharon Krebs

Herrn Josef Spaun, Assessor in Linz
Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): CAT DUT ENG FRE
 Und nimmer schreibst du?
 Bleibest uns verloren,
 Ein starr Verstummter, nun für ew'ge Zeit?
 Vielleicht, weil neue Freunde du erkoren?
 Wardst du Assessor denn am Tisch so breit,
 Woran beim Aktenstoß seufzt Langeweile,
 Um abzusterben aller Freudigkeit?
 Doch nein, nur wir sind's, nur uns ward zu Teile
 Dies Schweigen, dies Verstummen und Vergessen.
 Armut und Not selbst an der kleinsten Zeile!
 Für jeden bist du schriftkarg nicht gesessen;
 Für manchen kamen Briefe angeflogen,
 Und nach der Elle hast du sie gemessen;
 Doch uns, Barbar, hast du dein Herz entzogen!

 Schwingt euch kühn, zu bange Klagen,
 Aus empörter Brust hervor,
 Und von Melodien getragen,
 Wagt euch an des Fernen Ohr!
 Was er immer mag erwidern,
 Dieses hier saget doch;
 »Zwar vergessen, jenes Biedern
 Denken wir in Liebe noch.«

Note: Schubert received the text of this humorous complaint letter, which Matthäus von Collin sent to his cousin Josef von Spaun, in handwritten form. The text is documented as item no. 300 in Franz Schubert. Die Dokumente seines Lebens und Schaffens. Herausgegeben von Otto Erich Deutsch. Zweiter Band. Erste Hälfte. München und Leipzig 1914 bei Georg Müller, pages 119-120.


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , "Epístola "Al Sr. Josef von Spaun, assessor a Linz”", copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • DUT Dutch (Nederlands) [singable] (Lau Kanen) , "Epistel. Een muzikale grap", copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Sharon Krebs) , "Epistle: To Mr. Joseph von Spaun, Assessor in Linz", copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Épître « À Monsieur Joseph Spaun, assesseur à Linz »", copyright © 2012, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Research team for this text: Richard Morris , Peter Rastl [Guest Editor]

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 24
Word count: 129

Epistle: To Mr. Joseph von Spaun, Assessor in Linz
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
 And you never write,
 Remain lost to us,
 A rigidly mute one,
 Forever now?
 Perhaps because you have chosen new friends for yourself?
 You became an Assessor, sitting at such a wide table,
 Where, beside the stack of files, boredom sighs,
 So as to be dead to all joyfulness?
 But no, only we are [dead to all joyfulness].
 Only to us was meted out
 This falling silent, this becoming mute and being forgotten,
 Poverty and dearth of even the smallest line of writing!
 Not for everyone did you sit there, stinting with your writing;
 For some letters came flying,
 And you measured them by ells;
 But from us, you barbarian, you have withdrawn your heart!
 [Songs,] swing yourselves courageously forth to anxious lamentation
 From out of an indignant bosom,
 And, carried by melodies,
 Dare to approach the ear of the distant one!
 Whatever he may reply,
 Be sure to say this:
 "Although we have been forgotten, we still
 Think lovingly of that worthy one!"


  • Translation from German (Deutsch) to English copyright © 2015 by Sharon Krebs, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you may ask the copyright-holder(s) directly or ask us; we are authorized to grant permission on their behalf. Please provide the translator's name when contacting us.

Based on


This text was added to the website: 2015-08-20
Line count: 26
Word count: 166