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Winterreise D. 911 - Song cycle to poems by Wilhelm Müller

Franz Schubert (b. 1797 - d. 1828)

Mark Padmore

Mark Padmore

Composer
Franz Schubert (b. 1797 - d. 1828)
Composition Year
1794-1827
Work Movements
Part I
1. Gute Nacht
2. Die Wetterfahne
3. Gefrome Träne
4. Erstarrung
5. Der Lindenbaum
6. Wasserflut
7. Auf dem Flusse
8. Rückblick
9. Irrilicht
10. Rast
11. Frühlingstraum
12. Einsamkeit
Part Ii
13. Die Post
14. Der greise Kopf
15. Die Krähe
16. Letzte Hoffnung
17. Im Dorfe
18. Der stürmishe Morgen
19. Täuschung
20. Der Wegweiser
21. Das Wirtshaus
22. Mut!
23. Die Nebensonnen
24. Der Leiermann
Artists
Mark Padmore [tenor], Paul Lewis [piano]

Programme Note Writer:
© Francis Humphrys

For a time Schubert’s mood became even more gloomy and he seemed upset. When I asked him what was the matter he merely said ‘Well, you will soon hear and understand’. One day he said to me, ‘Come to Schober’s today. I will sing you a cycle of awe-inspiring songs.’ We were quite dumbfounded by the gloomy mood of these songs, and Schober said he only liked one song, Der Lindenbaum. To which Schubert replied: ‘I like these songs more than all the others, and you will get to like them too’. So wrote Schubert's friend Spaun in the spring of 1827, reminding us of the truism that most masterpieces are ahead of their time.

It is hard not to see in this magisterial and overwhelming work Schubert’s own story, with his desperation and loneliness laid out for all to see; but accompanied by the steely will that drove him on despite his terrible disease – he used to compose from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day. The intense inner journey made by the protagonist from youthful despair to the descent into utter isolation and horror eventually reaches a resigned but stoic acceptance. The final desolate scene is absolutely bereft of any artificially comforting solutions, but the final question – Willst du meinen Liedern deine Leier drehn? – does make music the only possible answer.

Schubert's music turns Müller's poems about a love-lorn wanderer into a tragic monologue on the human condition. The haunting image of the hurdy-gurdy man standing at the edge of the village playing his instrument to no-one but snarling dogs reminds us of Poor Tom and King Lear's cry: Thou art the thing itself; unaccommodated man is no more but such a poor, bare, forked animal as thou art. In Shakespeare's play, Poor Tom is the voice of truth; it is better to be a beggar, despised by everyone, than to be forced to lie. This is what Schubert's wanderer realises. He has turned his back on the world where parents marry off their daughter to the richest suitor, and where the girl accepts this bourgeois solution rather than follow the call of love. He has rejected the highways that most men use in order to follow the hidden paths in the mountains. He is tempted to turn back, he dreams of happier times, but he perseveres until he meets the hurdy-gurdy man, and something approaching pity awakens in him.

The drama begins in a comfortable town with its colourful streets and tall towers, surrounded by rich meadows and spreading lime trees. It moves out to the frozen river, the forest and the mountains, where the only habitation is a deserted charcoal burner's hut. He crosses the highway where the mail coach travels, its post-horn echoing in the valleys. He passes through a village at night and seeks rest in a graveyard. Everywhere he turns the snowbound landscape is hopeless – gaunt trees, frozen streams and not a human in sight, until he meets the old man. There is something about the tread of the opening song and the strength of the opening lines that makes you realise this wanderer is made of sterner stuff than the young miller of Die Schöne Müllerin. There is of course a strong element of self-pity in his bitter reflections, but the extent of his anger shows that he is a fighter. And how he rages, against the girl's family, against the town, against life itself, until he finds he has no choice but to keep going.

The music is unbearably moving, so much so that it requires a conscious effort of will to sit down and listen. We have all travelled through that desolate landscape and it reaches us at our most vulnerable spots. But amazingly in this work, where hopelessness is the only theme, hope triumphs. A work that seems to be about the powerlessness of the individual is actually about the power of music.

The evening of 17 November 1828 Schubert was violently and continuously delirious. His friend Spaun, who visited him during these last days, tells us that when he fell into delirium he sang ceaselessly, and when he was lucid he corrected the proofs of the second part of Winterreise. Two days later, by three o'clock in the afternoon, Schubert was dead.

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Winterreise D. 911 - Song cycle to poems by Wilhelm Müller

Composer: Franz Schubert (b. 1797 - d. 1828)
Performance date: Wednesday 6th July 2016
Venue: St. Brendan's Church, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland

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Composer Franz Schubert (b. 1797 - d. 1828)
Work Title Winterreise D. 911 - Song cycle to poems by Wilhelm Müller
Composition Year 1794-1827
Work Movements Part I
1. Gute Nacht
2. Die Wetterfahne
3. Gefrome Träne
4. Erstarrung
5. Der Lindenbaum
6. Wasserflut
7. Auf dem Flusse
8. Rückblick
9. Irrilicht
10. Rast
11. Frühlingstraum
12. Einsamkeit
Part Ii
13. Die Post
14. Der greise Kopf
15. Die Krähe
16. Letzte Hoffnung
17. Im Dorfe
18. Der stürmishe Morgen
19. Täuschung
20. Der Wegweiser
21. Das Wirtshaus
22. Mut!
23. Die Nebensonnen
24. Der Leiermann
Language German
Artist(s) Mark Padmore [tenor], Paul Lewis [piano]
Performance Date Wednesday 6th July 2016
Performance Venue St. Brendan's Church, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland
Event Main Evening Concert
Duration 01:15:00
Recording Engineer Richard McCullough, RTÉ lyric fm
Instrumentation Category Duo
Instrumentation T-solo, pf
Programme Note Writer © Francis Humphrys

For a time Schubert’s mood became even more gloomy and he seemed upset. When I asked him what was the matter he merely said ‘Well, you will soon hear and understand’. One day he said to me, ‘Come to Schober’s today. I will sing you a cycle of awe-inspiring songs.’ We were quite dumbfounded by the gloomy mood of these songs, and Schober said he only liked one song, Der Lindenbaum. To which Schubert replied: ‘I like these songs more than all the others, and you will get to like them too’. So wrote Schubert's friend Spaun in the spring of 1827, reminding us of the truism that most masterpieces are ahead of their time.

It is hard not to see in this magisterial and overwhelming work Schubert’s own story, with his desperation and loneliness laid out for all to see; but accompanied by the steely will that drove him on despite his terrible disease – he used to compose from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day. The intense inner journey made by the protagonist from youthful despair to the descent into utter isolation and horror eventually reaches a resigned but stoic acceptance. The final desolate scene is absolutely bereft of any artificially comforting solutions, but the final question – Willst du meinen Liedern deine Leier drehn? – does make music the only possible answer.

Schubert's music turns Müller's poems about a love-lorn wanderer into a tragic monologue on the human condition. The haunting image of the hurdy-gurdy man standing at the edge of the village playing his instrument to no-one but snarling dogs reminds us of Poor Tom and King Lear's cry: Thou art the thing itself; unaccommodated man is no more but such a poor, bare, forked animal as thou art. In Shakespeare's play, Poor Tom is the voice of truth; it is better to be a beggar, despised by everyone, than to be forced to lie. This is what Schubert's wanderer realises. He has turned his back on the world where parents marry off their daughter to the richest suitor, and where the girl accepts this bourgeois solution rather than follow the call of love. He has rejected the highways that most men use in order to follow the hidden paths in the mountains. He is tempted to turn back, he dreams of happier times, but he perseveres until he meets the hurdy-gurdy man, and something approaching pity awakens in him.

The drama begins in a comfortable town with its colourful streets and tall towers, surrounded by rich meadows and spreading lime trees. It moves out to the frozen river, the forest and the mountains, where the only habitation is a deserted charcoal burner's hut. He crosses the highway where the mail coach travels, its post-horn echoing in the valleys. He passes through a village at night and seeks rest in a graveyard. Everywhere he turns the snowbound landscape is hopeless – gaunt trees, frozen streams and not a human in sight, until he meets the old man. There is something about the tread of the opening song and the strength of the opening lines that makes you realise this wanderer is made of sterner stuff than the young miller of Die Schöne Müllerin. There is of course a strong element of self-pity in his bitter reflections, but the extent of his anger shows that he is a fighter. And how he rages, against the girl's family, against the town, against life itself, until he finds he has no choice but to keep going.

The music is unbearably moving, so much so that it requires a conscious effort of will to sit down and listen. We have all travelled through that desolate landscape and it reaches us at our most vulnerable spots. But amazingly in this work, where hopelessness is the only theme, hope triumphs. A work that seems to be about the powerlessness of the individual is actually about the power of music.

The evening of 17 November 1828 Schubert was violently and continuously delirious. His friend Spaun, who visited him during these last days, tells us that when he fell into delirium he sang ceaselessly, and when he was lucid he corrected the proofs of the second part of Winterreise. Two days later, by three o'clock in the afternoon, Schubert was dead.