To be Sung on the Water

Learn to play easy piano versions of "To be Sung on the Water".

To be Sung on the Water (TOB AC1)
  • Difficult
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Program Notes

This piano transcription of Franz Schubert’s “Auf dem Wasser zu Singen” D.774 is perfect for new and advancing piano student to play at a recital or evaluation. Students will find this piece a rewarding challenge as they work to evoke the feeling of quiet and gentle rippling water through the expressive melodic lines in this piece. This piece is written in boring black and white grand staff notation. Please consider using the easy to learn Paint with Piano notation, which features colored harmonies to aid the visual memory, custom typesetting rules that layout the music clearly and evenly, and hand drawn notation elements.


It can be very helpful to explore the original context of this music with your students. Franz Schubert was a composer who was most famous for writing “lied”, or song. Songs most often feature a vocalist who sings poetry while being accompanied by a pianist. Schubert was well known for his ability to craft piano accompaniments that were suggestive of the poems themes, such as in this arrangement, where the piano music suggests rippling water. Schubert was also a master at crafting simple yet elegant melodies that are extensions of his creative piano accompaniments while perfectly expressing the words of the poetry. “Auf dem Wasser zu Singen” (To be Sung on the Water) is a poem by the German poet Leopold Graf zu Stolberg-Stolberg. Leopold was a friend of the famous Johann Wolfgang Goethe, and this poem bears some similarity to Goethe’s poem “Auf dem See” (on the lake). “Auf dem Wasser zu Singen” paints a picture of a sunset over a quiet lake and notes the vanishing of time, like it is flying away.


Mitten im Schimmer der spiegelnden Wellen
Gleitet, wie Schwäne, der wankende Kahn :
Ach, auf der Freude sanftschimmernden Wellen
Gleitet die Seele dahin wie der Kahn;
Denn von dem Himmel herab auf die Wellen
Tanzet das Abendrot rund um den Kahn.

Über den Wipfeln des westlichen Haines
Winket uns freundlich der rötliche Schein;
Unter den Zweigen des östlichen Haines
Säuselt der Kalmus im rötlichen Schein;
Freude des Himmels und Ruhe des Haines
Atmet die Seel im errötenden Schein.

Ach, es entschwindet mit tauigem Flügel
Mir auf den wiegenden Wellen die Zeit;
Morgen entschwinde mit schimmerndem Flügel
Wieder wie gestern und heute die Zeit,
Bis ich auf höherem strahlendem Flügel
Selber entschwinde der wechselnden Zeit.


In the midst of the shimmer of reflecting waves
Like swans, glides the bouncing rowboat
Ah, over the joyous, gently-shimmering waves
Glides the soul like the rowboat.
From the heaven on down the waves
Dances the evening glow around the boat.

Above the top of the western grove
Friendly greets us the red glow;
Below the branches of the eastern grove
The reeds rustle in the red glow.
Heavenly joy and the peace of the groves
The soul breathes in the evening glow.

Ah, disappears from me with the dewey wings
On rocking waves, flies the time
Disappears tomorrow on shimmering wings
Just like yesterday and today, flies the time.
Until I myself on more highly radiant wings
Flee from the changing time.

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