Journey’s end

Our Winter journey together completed, Schubert bids us – and practically everything else – a fond, last farewell: Abschied (Farewell) D.957/7 Farewell! You jolly, you cheerful town, goodbye! My horse paws the ground now with light-hearted hoof, Now receive my final, my parting salute You’ve never seen me downcast before, And it can’t happen now at […]

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 […]

…how strange the change from major to minor

Apart from it being a rather useful (trite but it works?) internal rhyme, Cole Porter wasn’t exactly wrong about the deep emotional effect of the juxtaposition of majors and minors; it’s just that it’s a bit more complicated than that. Have a listen… recognise them? The simple act of flattening one note in a chord, like […]

Good artists copy, great artists steal!

Schubert’s Octet dates from 1824, it was commissioned by the clarinettist Ferdinand Troyer as – so the story goes – a companion work to Beethoven’s (then) extremely popular Septet (still is!). Apart from adding a second violin to make the numbers up to eight, Schubert seems to have used the Beethoven piece as the template for his […]

Winterreise — The Winter Journey

The last five years of Schubert’s life. Just five years? Doesn’t seem that long, does it? But, in a life span of a mere thirty-one — once you take away ten or so years for childhood — those five years come to represent a quarter of the composer’s mature life and, in terms of composition, the […]