Cover image for Schubert's Winter Journey : anatomy of an obsession
Schubert's Winter Journey : anatomy of an obsession
Bostridge, Ian, author.
Personal Author:
First United States edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2015.
Physical Description:
xxi, 502 pages : illustrations (chiefly color), music ; 19 cm
Draws on the author's first-hand experience with Franz Schubert's "Winterreise, " his musical knowledge, and his training as a scholar to explore the meanings of the songs comprising this masterpiece, one of the greatest pieces of music ever written for the male solo voice.
Gute Nacht = Good night -- Die Wetterfahne = The weathervane -- Gefrorne Tränen = Frozen tears -- Erstarrung = Frozen stiff -- Der Lindenbaum = The linden tree -- Wasserflut = Flood -- Auf dem Flusse = On the stream -- Rückblick = Backwards glance -- Irrlicht = Will-o'-the-wisp -- Rast = Rest -- Frühlingstraum = Dream of spring -- Einsamkeit = Loneliness -- Die Post = The post -- Der greise Kopf = The old man's head -- Die Krähe = The crow -- Letzte Hoffnung = Last hope -- Im Dorfe = In the village -- Der stürmische Morgen = The stormy morning -- Täuschung = Delusion -- Der Wegweiser = The signpost -- Das Wirtshaus = The inn -- Mut = Courage -- Die Nebensonnen = The mock suns -- Die Leiermann = The hurdy-gurdy man -- Aftermath.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML410.S3 B57 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



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.

Author Notes

IAN BOSTRIDGE is universally recognized as one of the greatest Lieder interpreters of our era. In addition to his numerous award-winning recordings of opera and song, he was the original Caliban in Thomas Adès's The Tempest, and he played Gustav von Aschenbach in English National Opera's landmark 2007 production of Death in Venice . A D. Phil of Oxford University for his work on the significance of witchcraft in English public life from 1650 to 1750, he lives in London with his wife, the writer and critic Lucasta Miller, and their two children.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* One of its finest interpreters, Bostridge has publicly performed Franz Schubert's great song cycle, Winterreise, more than 100 times. A setting of 24 poems by Wilhelm Müller (1784-1827), the piece is a defining work of Romanticism, the legend of a young man, cast away from the woman he loves, who wanders through the depths of winter, becoming ever more thoroughly outcast until . . . . The final song implies the wanderer's death or, perhaps, forecasts his faltering reentry to the world. Bostridge, PhD historian as well as musician, devotes a chapter of musical, biographical, social, and art-historical commentary to each song in the cycle, all the while maintaining his performer's perspective on Schubert's masterpiece. He explains how it might be, socially, that the wanderer has lost love and home together. He elucidates the wanderer's relationship to the literary figures of the foredoomed lover popularized by Goethe and of the outcast created by Lord Byron. He relates the cycle's setting of snow and ice to the great scientific discoveries and the great German art of Schubert's era. He shows the influence of Schubert's wanderer on subsequent literature, notably including Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain and the theater of Samuel Beckett. And he discloses Schubert advancing the art of music in the rhythms of a single bar of piano accompaniment. A book to match its subject in richness and finesse.--Olson, Ray Copyright 2015 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

In 1828, Franz Schubert gathered his circle of friends to perform Winterreise (Winter Journey), his latest song cycle, for them; they found the music gloomy and mournful, but Schubert-who died that year at age 31-said that he liked these songs more than all the others he had composed, and that his listeners would come to like them as well. Schubert's 24-song cycle, originally written to be recited by a male vocalist and piano for 70 minutes, without interruption, in intimate settings, is now performed in large concert halls around the world. English tenor Bostridge, who has sung these pieces frequently, offers his take on the meaning and enduring power of Winterreise. Most of the short chapters are written in elegant prose that soars off the pages, though some fall surprisingly flat. Bostridge probes the historical context of each piece and explores its connections to other arts. For example, he points out the connections between the music and lyrics of the cycle's first song, "Good Night," and Goethe's two poems "Fairy King" and "Gretchen at the Spinning Wheel": the poems animate the entire song and, musically, "subtle changes are used to shift perspective or emotional temperature." The words of "Rest," the 10th song in Winterreise, reflect a "rebellious ferocity and [are] a testament to repressed energy and pain." Bostridge's illuminating reflections will guide readers as they listen again, or for the first time, to the nuances of Schubert's great work. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

Starred Review. World-renowned British tenor Bostridge offers here his take on Franz Schubert's famed Winterreise (Winter's Journey), a cycle of 24 songs composed near the end of the composer's tragically brief life (1797-1828)and set to poems of Wilhelm Muller. The format is a kind of "primer" that presents each song, including the original German and the English translation, on facing pages. As the Oxford-educated author explains, the songs, which tend toward the dark and brooding, roughly chronicle the wanderings and moods of an apparently rejected lover, a popular 19th-century theme, with titles like "Backwards Glance" and "Deception." Though somewhat technical musical commentary is included here and there, this enchanting book is much more than just a treatise on the songs. Bostridge ranges widely and with great ease over cultural and historical terrain to provide a context for the songs, or Lieder, teasing out the undercurrents that run through them so that "We are drawn in by an obsessively confessional soul, apparently an emotional exhibitionist, who won't give us the facts; but this allows us to supply the facts of our own lives, and make him our mirror." VERDICT Highly recommended for lovers of both fine music and European cultural history.-Edward B. Cone, New York (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.