Forgive me if I strike a slightly sombre, or maybe just reflective, mood with this post. Over the years, especially as my own seem to pass ever more quickly, I have found the season of autumn to be an unwelcome visitor.

It is a reminder, however beautiful the colours may be for a few days, that there is decay in everything. As I write, rain is lashing down and strong winds are stripping trees of what leaves remain – to reveal the nothingness, the skeletons, that lie beneath.

Yes, I know it is part of an essential process, you might even assert a long-term harbinger of spring; but I cannot look at it that way right now. It is, for me, more of a summation of things past, of things gone for ever, whether they be happy events, of which I was fortunate to share many this summer – or people who are no longer here.

Anniversaries fall throughout the year for all of us, obviously. But autumn. Autumn, in its greyness and early nightfalls, has its way of bringing them all together. Which is why it is particularly apt that in the Christian calendar the feast of All Souls should be commemorated at this time of year.

So today I will be brief with my own words and let the music of my favourite composer, Franz Schubert (as if you needed telling) do the work. Many wrongly assume that Schubert’s brief life – just 31 years – was a sad one. He was, in fact, much loved and loved almost as much. I have no idea how many of his 600 songs or more I have heard, but this one, Allerseelen, set to the words of Johann Jacobi and written for the feast of All Souls, captures precisely my feelings of autumn and what it brings.

This version by Ian Bostridge is in the throat-lumping category. Each of the three verses has exactly the same melody, yet each is treated with different colour and emphasis, at times assertive and others almost whispering and yet never losing the note. Add to that the crystal clarity of his diction and you have 4.5 heavenly minutes to savour and reflect.

And no, you do not need to be a Christian or even a person of faith to appreciate this. All of us, at some stage, will wish this for those we have loved. Here is the translation (by Richard Wigmore) –

May all souls rest in peace;
those whose fearful torment is past;
those whose sweet dreams are over;
those sated with life, those barely born,
who have left this world:
may all souls rest in peace!
The souls of girls in love,
whose tears are without number,
who, abandoned by a faithless lover,
rejected the blind world.
May all who have departed hence,
may all souls rest in peace!
And those who never smiled at the sun,
who lay awake beneath the moon on beds of thorns,
so that they might one day see God face to face
in the pure light of heaven:
may all who have departed hence,
may all souls rest in peace!


And here is the music, click on the image –



13 thoughts on “Autumn”

  1. Dear Nick, Thank you for this. I have always been a little nervous about Schubert songs. I know that extremely knowledgable people like you are big fans but my few attempts to decipher them have usually failed. I was recently invited to a concert at the Wigmore Hall where Matthias Goerne was due to perform some Schubert songs. In the event he cancelled and I hate to say that I was rather relieved. We went instead at a later date to hear Beethoven cello sonatas which are far more accessible to me. This recording is however completely accessible and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It has reinforced my view that I really need to ‘get out more’ and explore things that up until now I have not. Many thanks again. Best wishes Tyrrell

    Tyrrell Young +44(0)7785530396



    1. Thank you very much, Tyrrell. What a treat awaits you! If you don’t believe me try these few for starters – An die Musik, Heidenroslein, Sylvia, Erlkonig, Die Forrelle.
      If these don’t persuade you, well…
      Lovely hearing from you! Hope you’re both well- we’ve finally moved in, so you must come down.


  2. Thank you so much Nick

    Just beautiful. And I cried because I lost my beloved brother when he was only 29 in October. The dawn of Autumn. And I cry when I hear his songs that he wrote the lyrics to me. . Hope to see you soon.

    Love Toni

    Toni Yardley +44 7715 04 11 36 +44 1732 700 324


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