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`Read Ebook ç Schubert's Winter Journey: Anatomy of an Obsession ⚢ An exploration of the world s most famous and challenging song cycle by one of the world s most renowned singers, a leading interpreter of the work, who teases out the themes literary, historical, psychological that weave through the twenty four songs comprising this legendary masterpiece Written in 1828, in the last months of the young Schubert s life, Winterreise Winter s Journey , has come to be considered the single greatest piece of music ever written for the male solo voice Deceptively brief the twenty four short poems are performed uninterrupted in 70 minutes it nonetheless has an emotional depth and power that no music of its kind has ever equalled Originally intended to be sung to an intimate gathering, performances of Winterreise now pack the greatest concert halls around the world Drawing on his firsthand experience with this work he has performed itthan one hundred times , on his musical knowledge, and on his training as a scholar, Ian Bostridge teases out the enigmas and subtle meanings of each song, exploring the world and the states of heart and mind in which Schubert created them, and the exquisite resonance and affinities that continue, even today, to move us so profoundly. My first compliment goes to Knopf, the publisher of this deliberately white, hefty little tome Its glossy stock made it too heavy to carry around, which was fine because I took my time with it anyway, listening to Schubert s lieder with each chapter, following the German poetry as best I could Up to now I ve regarded Winterreise as a cold slog Bostridge completely transformed my appreciation.The book of course has its conceits, in terms of format and indulgences As other reviewers noted, some of Bostridge s digressions are silly or slightly absurd, as if he s reaching too far to embroider his word , but almost always I appreciated his eccentricity, the capacious range of reference, the splendor of citations and illustrations after all, this is High Culture and we might as well enjoy the trimmings Some stand outs a brisk tour around the linden tree through German literature the musical illumination of Will o the Wisp another excursus on ice flowers in German literature including photographs of snowflakes by Wilson Bentley the melancholy semantic echoes in einsamkeit loneliness , which draw us in turn to the weird paintings of Caspar David Friedrich the inspired choice of a typographical poem by e e cummings to introduce the discussion of Last Hope Yet every conceit is grounded by Bostridge s evident love for the music and his long history of performing it.Schubert based his song cycle on the poems of Wilhelm M ller and, as Bostridge remarks with reference to his re creation of Goethe s Erlk nig Schubert never lets go of the musical or poetic logic it is difficult to go back to the poem without the music and not feel, somehow, robbed.When it comes to M ller s poetry, Schubert s transmutation of Romantic agony is sublime It s impossible for me to read the utterances of this tortured soul wandering through his snowy landscape without hearing the self indulgence of endlessly perpetuated, inner directed pain As with, for example Cioran, there s the sense that one is celebrating misery itself But the music moves us past the ridiculous, into something mysterious, the Joycean ineluctable modality of the visible in which everything is a signature of something furtive, profound, German You ve got to decide to go with it, as with any work of art This anatomy of an obsession is beautifully done, a work of art in itself. From BBC radio 4 Book of the Week Award winning tenor Ian Bostridge explores Franz Schubert s enigmatic masterpiece Winterreise, or Winter s Journey Composed in 1827, this powerful song cycle for voice and piano uses twenty four poems by Wilhem Muller and is considered one of classical music s most powerful compositions.Drawing upon his experience as a performer he has performed Winterreise than a hundred times , on his musical knowledge and on his training as a scholar, Bostridge unpicks the enigmas and subtle meanings behind the songs to explore the world Schubert inhabited. Schubert s song cycle Winterreise is one of the essential works of classical music and a work I have loved for many years I respond to this cycle of lost love whenever I return to it Written in the last year of Schubert s life, Winterreise is a setting for solo voice and piano of 24 poems by Wilhelm Muller Schubert first set a group of twelve poems and, shortly thereafter returned to set the entire cycle of 24 songs The cycle has been recorded and performed innumerable times.The British tenor Ian Bostridge has performed Winterreise over 100 times in a thirty year career He has recorded the work with pianist Leif Ove Adnes and prepared a dramatization of the cycle with pianist Julius Drake Bostridge does not have an academic degree in music He received a doctoral degree from Oxford in 1990 for a dissertation on witchcraft in English life from 1650 1750 and taught political theory and British history at the university level before devoting himself to a career as a singer in 1996.Bostridge s love for Schubert s Winterreise and his passion for music and for learning all are on full display in his book, Schubert s Winter s Journey Anatomy of an Obsession The obsession in question is shared by Muller and Schubert s nameless wanderer in the cycle, by Bostridge himself, and by the reader of the book and listener to the music In a brief introduction, Bostridge writes It is surely remarkable that the piece lives and makes an impact in concert halls all over the world, in cultures remote from its origins in 1820s Vienna He says of his goal in the book I want to use each song as a platform for exploring these origins setting the piece in its historical context, but also finding new and unexpected connections, both contemporary and long dead literary, visual, psychological, scientific, and political Musical analysis will inevitably play its part, but this is nothing as systematic as a guide to Winter Journey, or which there are plenty already out there The book consists of 24 chapters of varying lengths each of which explores one of the songs in Winterreise Each chapter begins with the German text of the song with Bostridge s own translation on a facing page From that point, the chapters move in wildly varying directions Often Bostridge begins with a short musical or textual discussion But he uses each song as a springboard for a wide ranging discussion about Schubert s and Muller s lives, politics in Vienna in the years following the Napoleonic wars, the Enlightenment, art, religion, literature, science, and much The book displays a prodigious learning and presents it well Often, the book moves from subject to subject in a chain of free association The discussion moves freely from sources and references predating Schubert, to politics, science, and such during his lifetime, through the latter 19th Century and to the present It is dazzling I also found it highly useful in gaining understanding of Winterreise even when I thought some of the themes, such as the cycle s covert political message, were overstated At times, the associations go far afield and become tangential to Winterreise, as Bostridge notes But the book is absorbing and infused with love and learning about its subject The purely musical discussions tend to be brief But Bostridge draws excellent parallels between particular songs in Winterreise and other parts of Schubert s output For example, his discussion of Einsamkeit loneliness , no 12 in the cycle, discusses many other songs of Schubert with loneliness as a theme The discussion of Mut courage , no 22 in Winterreise, discusses the state of religious belief in Schubert s Vienna and the treatment of religious themes in the composer s songs, masses, and other music.The book uses art extensively and includes many full color illustrations of works bearing upon the songs and themes of Winterreise Bostridge s discussions are invariably illuminating The book has an extensive bibliography but no index.I accompanied my reading by listening to a recording of Winterreise From several versions that I own, I chose a famous 1942 recording by baritone bass Hans Hotter and pianist Michael Raucheisen I began by listening to each song after reading the chapter Bostridge devoted to it in his book Somewhat beyond the middle of the cycle, this approach became too cumbersome and distracting, and I listened to the songs in groups of two or three Bostridge in fact discusses the Hotter Raucheisen recording when he explores the Nazi s use of Winterreise during WW II During the middle of the War, Raucheisen, whom Bostridge describes as Goebbel s client and Hitler s favorite had projected a complete account on record of German songs as part of the war effort Bostridge tries to understand the appeal German romanticism and Winterreise held for the Nazis I was disconcerted to learn the background of the recording I selected, much as I love its way with the music I am also listening to the Bostridge Drake dramatization of Winterreise which is readily accessible on media.I learned much about Schubert and Winterreise from Bostridge This book will appeal to readers who already love or who want to get to know Schubert s great song cycle.Robin Friedman