Schubert's Winter Journey: Anatomy of an Obsession

By Ian Bostridge

An exploration of the world’s most famed and demanding tune cycle, Schubert's Winter Journey (Winterreise), by way of a number one interpreter of the paintings, who teases out the themes—literary, old, psychological—that weave throughout the twenty-four songs that make up this mythical masterpiece.

Completed within the final months of the younger Schubert’s existence, Winterreise has become thought of the one maximum piece of track within the heritage of Lieder. Deceptively laconic—these twenty-four brief poems set to tune for voice and piano are played uninterrupted in little greater than an hour—it still has an emotional intensity and tool that no song of its style has ever equaled. a tender guy, rejected by way of his loved, leaves the home the place he has been dwelling and walks out into snow and darkness. As he wanders clear of the village and into the empty geographical region, he reviews a cascade of emotions—loss, grief, anger, and acute loneliness, shot via with in simple terms fleeting moments of hope—until the panorama he inhabits turns into one in every of alienation and melancholy. initially meant to be sung to an intimate amassing, performances of Winterreise now pack the best live performance halls round the world. 

Drawing both on his substantial event acting this paintings (he has sung it a couple of hundred times), on his musical wisdom, and on his education as a student, Bostridge teases out the enigmas and sophisticated meanings of every of the twenty-four lyrics to probe for us the area Schubert inhabited, his biography and mental make-up, the historic and political pressures during which he turned one of many world’s maximum composers, and the continued resonances and affinities that our ears nonetheless discover this day, making Schubert’s wanderer our mirror.

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Here's a tough visible advisor, a comparability of ten various released reconstructions of suggest temperature alterations over the past thousand years: Winterreise used to be written and composed in a Europe within which iciness had a better imaginitive influence than in our personal time; whilst, it was once the made from a tradition serious about the uncanny strength and symbolism of ice. “AUF DEM FLUSSE” starts with icy nonchalance within the piano, a dissociated tread, an impassive plodding which inspires, at one and an identical time, a frozen river and a frozen mind set.

Representation credits three. 1) Schubert himself used to be, it seems that, politically alert, if no longer highly politically lively, although the facts from this politically repressed interval in Austrian heritage isn't plentiful. He turns out to were a bolshie younger guy within the 1820s, arrested for suspected disaffection (his nice pal Johann Senn used to be with him on the time, most likely the ringleader, and ended up in exile, his profession in tatters). prior on, as undefined, conversely, he used to be the patriotic composer of a track which celebrated the allied overcome Napoleon, “Die Befreier Europas in Paris” (The Liberators of Europe in Paris), written in could 1814, just a couple of weeks after the Austrian and Russian access into the French capital.

Circulate away, a lot enjoyed songs, to the ocean of forgetting. No boy will sing to you back with satisfaction, no lady within the blossom-time. You sang simply of my love; now she speaks with scorn of my constancy. You have been written in water, so stream away with it. ) to put in writing on ice is a picture of ambivalence: like writing on water yet now not particularly letting move, desirous to hold up the oblivion of forgetting, the inevitable bereavement, through freezing it. Freezing feeling is, although, while, either to maintain and to anaesthetise it.

This additionally allowed for a metamorphosis of form within the ultimate vocal word. within the first model the phrases “War ich so elend, so elend nicht” (I wasn’t part so wretched) are repeated to an identical tune, making a kind of dispirited petering out after the bravery of the quasi-orchestral piano tremolos; within the moment, the repeated “so elend nicht” is transposed up a minor 3rd, in order that the word reaches as much as a keening F-sharp. It sounds whilst extra conclusive, mockingly resisting closure, and extra determined.

I superstitiously attempt to stay away from rehearsing this untouchable tune. Winterreise is a bit which i do know so good that one the most important point of preparatory rehearsal—the repetition which locks phrases and words into the again of the mind and the muscle memory—can often be taken without any consideration. however, the liberty which one preferably seeks in functionality is better secured via working the piece throughout the evening ahead of making a song in public, in spite of a pianist with whom one has played the piece numerous instances.

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