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An exploration of the world’s most famous and challenging song cycle, Schubert's Winter Journey (Winterreise), by a leading interpreter of the work, who teases out the themes—literary, historical, psychological—that weave through the twenty-four songs that make up this legendary masterpiece. Completed in the last months of the young Schubert’s life, Winterreise has come to be considered the single greatest piece of music in the history of Lieder. Deceptively laconic—these twenty-four short poems set to music for voice and piano are performed uninterrupted in little more than an hour—it nonetheless has an emotional depth and power that no music of its kind has ever equaled. A young man, rejected by his beloved, leaves the house where he has been living and walks out into snow and darkness. As he wanders away from the village and into the empty countryside, he experiences a cascade of emotions—loss, grief, anger, and acute loneliness, shot through with only fleeting moments of hope—until the landscape he inhabits becomes one of alienation and despair. Originally intended to be sung to an intimate gathering, performances of Winterreise now pack the greatest concert halls around the world. Drawing equally on his vast experience performing this work (he has sung it more than one hundred times), on his musical knowledge, and on his training as a scholar, Bostridge teases out the enigmas and subtle meanings of each of the twenty-four lyrics to explore for us the world Schubert inhabited, his biography and psychological makeup, the historical and political pressures within which he became one of the world’s greatest composers, and the continuing resonances and affinities that our ears still detect today, making Schubert’s wanderer our mirror.
I like these songs better than all the rest, and someday you will too, Franz Schubert told the friends who were the first to hear his song cycle, Winterreise. These lieder have always found admiring audiences, but the poetry he chose to set them to has been widely regarded as weak and trivial. In Retracing a Winter's Journey, Susan Youens looks not only at Schubert's music but at the poetry, drawn from the works of Wilhelm Müller, who once wrote in his diary, "perhaps there is a kindred spirit somewhere who will hear the tunes behind the words and give them back to me!" Youens maintains that Müller, in depicting the wanderings of the alienated lover, produced poetry that was simple but not simple-minded, poetry that embraced simplicity as part of its meaning. In her view, Müller used the ruder folk forms to give his verse greater immediacy, to convey more powerfully the wanderer's complex inner state. Youens addresses many different aspects of Winterreise: the cultural milieu to which it belonged, the genesis of both the poetry and the music, Schubert's transformation of poetic cycle into music, the philosophical dimension of the work, and its musical structure.
Winterreise is perhaps the greatest song cycle ever written. Franz Schubert set to music the evocative poetry of his contemporary, German lyricist Wilhelm Müller. It is a heart-rending portrayal of a winter journey full of misery and woe. This striking and unique multimedia volume brings together the achievements of Schubert and Müller with new interpretations by present-day musicians, scholars, and a photographer. The volume includes: o the complete German text of Wilhelm Müller’s twenty-four poems o a new English translation of the poems by Louise McClelland Urban o a foreword by Pulitzer Prize–winning American composer John Harbison o an introductory essay by renowned Schubert scholar Susan Youens o ninety-two stunning black and white photographs of a winter’s journey by Katrin Talbot o a compact-disc recording of the Winterreise song cycle performed by baritone Paul Rowe and pianist Martha Fischer.
This Companion to Schubert examines the career, music, and reception of one of the most popular yet misunderstood and elusive composers. Sixteen chapters by leading Schubert scholars make up three parts. The first seeks to situate the social, cultural, and musical climate in which Schubert lived and worked, the second surveys the scope of his musical achievement, and the third charts the course of his reception from the perceptions of his contemporaries to the assessments of posterity. Myths and legends about Schubert the man are explored critically and the full range of his musical accomplishment is examined.
The collaboration of Schubert and the poet Wilhelm Müller produced some of the best loved of nineteenth-century lieder - in particular the song cycle Die schöne Müllerin. Professor Youens shows us how this archetypal tale of love and rejection, which has its origins in medieval romance, Minnesong and popular German legend, is reflected in the poet's own experience, the realms of art and life intertwining. Professor Youens considers other poets' explorations of the theme of a miller maid and her suitors, and looks at other musical settings of Müller's mill poems. But above all she examines Müller's permutation of the literary legends as an exploration of erotic obsession, delusion, frenzy, disillusionment and death and the way in which Schubert crucially altered Müller's vision when the poetic cycle became a musical text.

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