Schubert has 5 distinct representations of people or things in this mini-tone poem, 4 of which are taken up by the singer:
Narrator -Opens the song with the voice being in the middle range of the singer and in a minor key.
Father - Sings in the low register of the singer and in both major keys.
Son - Sings in the high register of the singer and in minor keys.
Erlkönig - Sings up and down the range of the singer in major keys in a lower dynamic.
The fifth representation in the song is the horse that the father is riding, and that part is taken up by the piano. It is this very representation of a horse's beating hoofs in the fathers frantic urging to get the child assistance that is heard first in driving triplets in the right hand:
Below is a translation of the song into English with parts labeled for clarification;
[Narrator]Who rides so late through the windy night?
There is the father with his child,
he has the boy safe in his arm.
He holds him safely, he keeps him warm.
[Father]"My son, why do you hide your face?"
[Son]" My father, don't you see the Erlkönig
with his crown and tail?"
[Father] "My son, it is the fog"
[Erlkönig]"You dear child, come with me!
Such lovely games I'll play with you;
Many colorful flowers are on the beach,
My mother has many golden robes."
[Son]"My father, my father, can not you hear,
What the Erlkönig quietly promises me? "
[Father]"Be calm, stay calm, my child,
in the dry leaves the wind is rustling."
[Erlkönig]"Will you, sweet boy, will you go with me?
My daughters shall wait upon you;
My daughters lead the nightly dances.
And will rock and dance and sing you to sleep. "
[Son]"My father, my father, don't you see the
Erlkönig daughters in the dark?"
[Father]"My son, my son, I see it well,
it is the old gray willows."
[Erlkönig]"I love you, your beautiful form entices me;
If you're not willing to go, I will force you."
[Son]"My father, my father, he seizes me!
The ErlKing is hurting me! "
[Narrator]The father shudders, he rides swiftly,
holding in his arms the moaning child.
The father reaches his courtyard with toil and hardship;
In his arms the child was dead.
Schubert's song was orchestrated by a few composers such as Berlioz and Reger. Below is a version for orchestra. I'm not sure who did the orchestration, but I think it is by Berlioz: