Ian Bostridge Schubert's Winter JourneyIan Bostridge
Schubert’s Winter Journey
Anatomy of an Obsession

University of Wisconsin Press, 2003 (and other editions)

 

 

 

 

Schubert’s Winter Journey, written by the famous tenor – and now writer too – Ian Bostridge, is not a true musical guide, but, in some ways, has more similarity with a sentimental journey in which are scrupulously analysed the various aspects and meanings of Schubert’s Winterreise.

Winterreise is a twenty-four Lieder collection, on poems by Wilhelm Müller, written in the last year of the composer’s life (1828). Bostridge devotes to each Lied a detailed study on a wide range of subjects, creating in turn digressions about literature (he talks about Byron or Goethe), costume (marriage) and behaviour (one of the most interesting is the change of attitude toward weeping in the XVIII and XIX centuries), or he focuses on some aspects of music history (for example, musical instruments) or on historical events (he refers with frequency to the Napoleonic wars, fought few years before the composition of Winterreise).

These inexhaustible hints are not mere erudition, but has the purpose to clarify the figure of the mysterious wanderer protagonist of Winterreise, of whom Bostridge) explores the way of thinking and relating to life after his dream of love has been broken (this is emphasized by the subtitle of the book, Anatomy of an Obsession). In this way, some passages of the Lieder’s text become clearer and allow us to understand better some meanings that perhaps we did not notice until now.

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