Ich denke Dein...


Op. 100
Soprano, Orchestra
28 minutes / 5 movements / 61 score pages
Lyrics author
Rainer Maria Rilke, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Joseph von Eichendorff
Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Philharmonia Orchestra, Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
Lisa Larsson
2015-01-14, Lisa Larsson, soprano / Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich / John Storgårds, Tonhalle Zürich, Switzerland



Gehrmans Musikförlag

Score (GE 12594), Vocal Score (GE 13283), Orchestral Parts (GE 12595)


18 Nov 2023

Ich denke Dein...

  • Hanna Husáhr – soprano
  • Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra
  • Patrik Ringborg – conductor


Stockholm, Sweden

17 Nov 2023

Ich denke Dein...

  • Hanna Husáhr – soprano
  • Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra
  • Patrik Ringborg – conductor


Stockholm, Sweden

14 Sept 2023

Ich denke Dein...

  • Lisa Larsson – soprano
  • Norrköping Symphony Orchestra
  • Karl-Heinz Steffens – conductor

De Geerhallen

Norrköping, Sweden

09 Sept 2022

Ich denke Dein...

  • Hanna Husáhr – soprano
  • Malmö Opera Orchestra
  • Patrik Ringborg – conductor


Hässleholm, Sweden

UK Premiere

24 Jul 2022

Ich denke Dein...

  • Elizabeth Llewellyn – soprano
  • Philharmonia Orchestra
  • Emilia Hoving – conductor

Hereford Cathedral

Hereford, UK

21 Sept 2019

Ich denke Dein...

  • Lisa Larsson, soprano
  • Bucharest Symphony Orchestra
  • Nicolae Moldoveanu, conductor

Romanian Radio Hall, Romanian Radio Broadcasting

Bucharest, Romania

Romanian premiere

21 Sept 2019

Ich denke Dein...

  • Enescu Festival
  • Lisa Larsson – soprano
  • Bucharest Symphony Orchestra
  • Nicolae Moldoveanu – conductor

Romanian Radio Hall

Bucharest, Romania

16 May 2019

Ich denke Dein...

  • Lisa Larsson – soprano
  • Vanemuine Symphony Orchestra
  • Paul Mägi – conductor

Eesti Radio Broadcasting, Vanemuine Concert Hall

Tartu, Estonia

Estonian premiere

10 May 2019

Ich denke Dein...

  • Lisa Larsson – soprano
  • Vanemuine Symphony Orchestra
  • Paul Mägi – conductor

Vanemuine Concert Hall

Tartu, Estonia

25 May 2018

Ich denke Dein...

  • Lisa Larsson – soprano
  • Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Gustavo Gimeno

Concert Hall

Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm Premiere

24 May 2018

Ich denke Dein...

  • Lisa Larsson – soprano
  • Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Gustavo Gimeno

Concert Hall

Stockholm, Sweden

Spanish Premiere

16 Feb 2018

Ich denke Dein...

  • Lisa Larsson – soprano
  • Balearic Symphony Orchestra
  • Pablo Mielgo


Palma de Mallorca, Spain


Record cover artwork for INTO ETERNITY





  • Lisa Larsson

    – soprano

  • Malmö Symphony Orchestra

  • Paul Mägi, conductor


Work Note by Heinz Köhnen

The song cycle for soprano and orchestra 'Ich denke Dein…. originated in 2014 from a co-commission of five European orchestras (Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Philharmonia Orchestra Royal Festival Hall London, Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra) to the Swedish composer Rolf Martinsson. A milestone in his worklist for it concerns his hundredth composition. Closely connected to this opus 100 is the voice and the person of the Swedish soprano Lisa Larsson. In 2010 started an intensive cooperation with her when Martinsson rewrote his song cycle for mezzo-soprano, Orchestral Songs on Poems by Emily Dickinson, to the soprano position of Larsson, who is specially praised for her Mozart opera repertoire. In Lisa Larsson the composer found his muse. In 2014 the cooperation lead to a new cycle, Garden of Devotion, on text of the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore. The newest work 'Ich denke Dein…' contains a choice out of the German poetry: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Joseph von Eichendorff and Rainer Maria Rilke. Their joint theme is love.

Sweet song

The first song, Nähe des Geliebten (Touch of the beloved) by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 - 1832) from 1796 consists of four times four rhyming lines. Every section begins with the word 'Ich' (I) followed by a confession: I think of you; I see you; I hear you; I am with you. These outpourings are repeated several times with passion by the soprano. The lover sees himself in a meeting amidst images of nature, as sunshine reflecting on the sea, or murmuring of water. He ends with a sigh: 'Oh, if only you were there!'. The orchestra rounds the song similar to the second song. Nähe des Geliebten begins with a strong emotional orchestral introduction that inserts a longingly melodic theme that immediately charms the ear. It is a recognition tune that returns in the end of this song, as well as in a short solo for the violin in the fourth song Die Liebende schreibt (The lover writes) and in an interlude for the fifth song Mondnacht (Moon night).

The two following poems are of Rainer Maria Rilke (1875 - 1926): Liebes-Lied (Love song) from 1907 and Blaue Hortensie (Blue hydrangea) from 1906. During the period of creation Rilke lived in Paris where he served as secretary for the sculpture Auguste Rodin. He taught his co-operator to observe things like a plant, an animal or an object, to see what is essential, and to combine it with his own feelings in a new image. These texts by Rilke are known as 'thing poems'.

Liebes-Lied is written in the first person singular. That person wonders how he can lift his soul over his sweetheart 'zu andern Dingen' (towards other things). He realizes that it will be not successful. He and the beloved lady are caught in the stroke of a bow, which out of two strings, jointly stricken, let sound of one voice. The poem ends with a sigh: 'On what instrument have we been bend? And which player holds us in his hand? O sweet song'. Can a composer wish a more musical text? In the throat of Larsson the sweet song merges to one sound by the two trifling voice muscles.

Radiating effect

The third song, Blaue Hortensie (Blue hydrangea) has the classical concept of a sonnet (two times four verse lines followed by two times three lines) with a specific rhyme scheme. It offers a yet stronger example of the 'thing poem'. The flower buds that have grown sallow and the withered leaves of a hydrangea are compared to the dried paint in a tin, to old paper, and to a faded children's apron. Yet the blue suddenly lights up; the soprano voice evokes a radiating effect. The word love is not used in this painting of words, but the tension of the images strongly expresses that feeling and the hope for renewal. Martinsson gives sound to the contemplative text in a restrained way. The first five words are not sung, but spoken. Then the voice starts singing, slowly underlined by the English horn. Also the last verse is declaimed, with a heartfelt accent on the word 'freuen' (rejoice).

Totally different, almost one in meaning, are the lyrics that Martinsson choose from the poem stock of Goethe: Die Liebende schreibt (The lover writes), the fourth song in the cycle, and Nähe des Geliebten, the first song. The first mentioned poem stems from 1807 when the 58 year old famous author fell in love with the 18 year young Minna Herzlieb, a bookshop-assistant. The poem has the classical form of a sonnet. A kiss, spinning thoughts, tears and the lisp of heartache have to soften the adored girl to give 'ein Zeichen' (a sign). With an orchestral opening that has much to do with big band music, and thanks to a pliant pulse of timpani and double bass, the verses by Goethe become a modern love song.

Rounding off

The fifth song, Mondnacht (Moon night) is by Joseph von Eichendorff (1788 - 1857). It is a romantic effusion, in three times four rhyming lines, based on impressions of nature. The heaven that kisses the earth, ears of corn softly rocked by the wind, and in the end the soul spreads its wings and seems to fly home. A tender sounding bassoon colours the introduction. The song line expresses, in an ensemble with the solo cello, the stillness of nature by night. The poem dates from 1837, and it was Robert Schumann who immediately composed it and made it famous.

'Ich denke Dein…' grew in close cooperation with Lisa Larsson and the songs are dedicated to her. The conversations with her focused on things as the balance between syllables and ornamental series of notes (the so called melisma) in connection to the representation of the text. To do justice to the contents, Martinsson took much care to the dynamic differences and the colouring. The beautiful poems are already full of music, according to Martinsson. For each poem he searched a suiting musical form of the song line and in combination therewith he developed the orchestration. Celesta, vibraphone, harp and piano bring in light accents in the well-stuffed orchestra.

During 2017 Ms. Larsson will be recording the piece at the BIS label with the Malmö Symphony Orchestra in the wonderful acoustic of Malmö Live.

Lyrics by Rainer Maria Rilke, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Joseph von Eichendorff

1 - Nearness of the Beloved One

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) Translation: Elaine Danforth

I think of you, when on me the sun’s shimmer from the sea does glint;

I think of you, when the moon its fainter glimmer in the stream does paint.

I see you here, when up from the distant road the dust is raised;

In the deepest night, when on the narrow bridge the traveler shakes.

I hear you here, when with yonder muffled sound the wave does rise

In the quiet grove, I often stop to listen, when all grows still,

And I am with you, though you are still so far, To me, you’re near!

The sun sinks down, soon on me shines the stars, If only you were here!

2 - Love Song

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) Translation: A. Z. Foreman

How shall I hold my soul and yet not touch It with your own? How shall I ever place

It clear of you on anything beyond?

Oh gladly I would stow it next to such Things in the darkness as are never found Down in an alien and silent space

That does not resonate when you resound.

But everything that touches me and you

Takes us together like a bow on two

Taut strings to stroke them to the voice of one. What instrument have we been lain along? Whose are the hands that play our unison?

Oh sweet song!

3 - Blue Hydrangea

Rainer Maria Rilke Translation: Guntram Deichsel

Just like the last green in a colour pot

So are these leaves, withered and wrecked
Behind the flower umbels, which reflect

A hue of blue only, more they do not.

Reflections are tear-stained, inaccurate,
As if they were about to cease,

And like old blue notepaper sheets
They wear some yellow, grey and violet,

Washed-out like on a children's apron,
Outworn and now no more in use:

We contemplate a small life's short duration.

But suddenly some new blue seemingly is seen 
In just one umbel, and we muse

Over a moving blue delighting in the green.

4 - The loving woman writes

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Translation: Edgar Alfred Bowring

THE look that thy sweet eyes on mine impress The pledge thy lips to mine convey,--the kiss,-- He who, like me, hath knowledge sure of this, Can he in aught beside find happiness?

Removed from thee, friend-sever'd, in distress, These thoughts I vainly struggle to dismiss: They still return to that one hour of bliss,

The only one; then tears my grief confess.

But unawares the tear makes haste to dry:

He loves, methinks, e'en to these glades so still,-- And shalt not thou to distant lands extend? Receive the murmurs of his loving sigh;

My only joy on earth is in thy will,

Thy kindly will tow'rd me; a token send!

5 - Moonlit Night

Joseph von Eichendorff (1788-1857) Translation: Walter A. Aue

It was like Heaven's glimmer 
caressing Terra's skin, 

that in Her blossoms' shimmer 
She had to dream of Him.

The breeze was gently walking 
through wheatfields near and far; 
the woods were softly talking 

so bright shone ev'ry star.

And, oh, my soul extended 

its wings through skies to roam: 
O'er quiet lands suspended, 
my soul was flying home.

Rolf Martinsson is represented by Gehrmans Musikförlag

Photography by Louise Martinsson and video by Tord Martinsson

© Rolf Martinsson 2019. All rights reserved.