The hurdy-gurdy man

The end of Wilhelm Müller’s Die Winterreise has a strangeness that never fails to touch and mystify. The image of the ancient, penniless hurdy-gurdy man making his music, unmoved by the passing world, is inexplicably potent – it calls to us. Who is he?  Death? Madness? A salvation of some sort?

And then there’s Schubert’s setting: the simple hurdy-gurdy/bagpipe drone of the opening…

… the banal, wrong-footed little tune that follows it…

…and a vocal line that, somehow or other, has got way beyond singing. All of it simplicity in itself; all of it a masterpiece.


And the hurdy-gurdy?

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