Şzymon Komasa, born in Poznań, graduated from the Academy of Music in Łódź, in both cello and vocal studies. He then continued his operatic education at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London before becoming a student of Edith Wiens in The Juilliard Schools Artist Diploma program in Opera Studies. In 2011, he represented Poland in the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition. He has won awards in international singing competitions, including the Best Wagner Singer at the 7th Annual Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition in Dublin, Ireland and third prize at the Ada Sari Vocal Art Competition in Nowy Sącz, Poland. He was also awarded first prize at the Puccini International Singing Competition in Verona and first prize at the Halina Halska-Fijałkowska Vocal Competition in Wrocław.
Michał Rot, is also a graduate of the Academy of Music in Łódź, where he studied piano under Cezary Sanecki. He then continued his piano studies at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Stuttgart, with Andrzej Ratusiński and chamber studies at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Mannheim, under Michael Flaksman and Jelena Očić. He was honoured with 2nd Prize as well as a Special Prize for the best performance of a polish modern piece on XVII International Chamber Music Competition, in Łódź, and a Special Prize for the best pianist on XVIII International J. Brahms Competition, in Pörtschach. Additionally, Rot received a scholarship from the Minister of Culture and National Heritage for outstanding achievements in the field of music. He currently serves at Music Academy of Music in Łódź, as Chair of Piano Chamber Music, where he completed his doctorate of arts in 2016.
Franz Schubert composed Erlkönig in 1815 at the age of eighteen and based it on a poem of the same name by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Goethe originally composed the poem as part of a 1782 Singspiel entitled Die Fischerin. The song is written in the tradition of a Lied, a German art song, for solo voice with piano accompaniment. German lieder flourished in the 19th century, partially due to the large amount of written by Schubert and his contemporaries.
The Erlkönig is a malevolent creature depicted in many northern European poems and stories. In some he takes the form of a god of death, looming over the dying in confirmation of their impending doom. In other tales, the Erlkönig is described as an evil creature which inhabits forests and tries to lure travellers to their death. Goethe's poem is an example of the latter. Additionally, there is a reference to the Erlkönig's daughters in Goethe's version, in several instances of the story, it is the Erlkönig's daughters who are the evil forces. The following is a translation of Goethe’s poem by Betsy Schwarm.
Who’s riding so late, in the night and wind?
It is the father with his child.
He grasps the boy in his arm.
He holds him securely; he keeps him warm.
My son, why do you hide your face so fearfully?
“Father, don’t you see the Erl-King there?
The Erl-King with his crown and train?”
My son, it’s a streak of mist.
‘You delightful child, come with me!
I’ll play wonderful games with you.
Colourful flowers grow on the shore.
My mother has many fine things.’
“My father, my father, don’t you hear
What the Erl-King said to me?”
Be calm, stay calm, my son;
The wind is stirring the dry leaves.
‘Fine boy, will you come with me?
My daughters will wait on you nicely.
My daughters will lead the evening dancing
And rock and dance and sing to you.’
“My father, my father, don’t you see
The Erl-King’s daughters in that gloomy place?”
My son, my son, I see it indeed;
The old willow gleaming so gray.
‘I love you, I delight in your beautiful shape;
And if you are not willing, I shall use force.’
“My father, my father, he has seized me!
Erl-King is injuring me!”
The father blanched; he rode swiftly.
He held the moaning child in his arms.
With great trouble, he reached the courtyard.
In his arms, the child was dead.
Alixandra Porembski, English Language Annotator