One of the most important aspects of Franz Schubert's song production has remained relatively neglected: the many occasions on which he set poetry to music more than once. This practice of returning to poems, and responding to them anew, is unusual and suggests a greater degree of literary sensitivity on the part of Schubert than is often ascribed to him. In contrast to his similarly frequent tendency to produce revised versions of songs, Schubert's resetting of poetry results in completely new songs. The presence of residues of earlier settings in later ones prompts consideration of the degree to which resettings are to some extent 'radical revisions' of their predecessors. It also raises questions as to what those residues might signify about how and why Schubert reset poetry. Nowhere are such issues more fascinatingly and comprehensively illustrated than in Schubert's multiple settings of the poet who was more important to him than any other: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. In recent years, a renewed interest in the relationship between Goethe and Schubert has demonstrated that the two men had more in common than has historically been supposed. A specific bond between them lies in Goethe's recognition that his poems could be read in more than one way. Re-reading Poetry uncovers an important shared outlook between composer and poet.
Buy the Book
Death in Winterreise
Lauri Suurpaa brings together two rigorous methodologies, Greimassian semiotics and Schenkerian analysis, to provide a unique perspective on the expressive power of Franz Schubert's song cycle. Focusing on the final songs, Suurpaa deftly combines textual and tonal analysis to reveal death as a symbolic presence if not actual character in the musical narrative. Suurpaa demonstrates the incongruities between semantic content and musical representation as it surfaces throughout the final songs. This close reading of the winter songs, coupled with creative applications of theory and a thorough history of the poetic and musical genesis of this work, brings new insights to the study of text-music relationships and the song cycle.
Buy the Book
The Cambridge Companion to Schubert
This Companion to Schubert examines the career, music, and reception of one of the most popular yet misunderstood and elusive composers. Sixteen chapters by leading Schubert scholars make up three parts. The first seeks to situate the social, cultural, and musical climate in which Schubert lived and worked, the second surveys the scope of his musical achievement, and the third charts the course of his reception from the perceptions of his contemporaries to the assessments of posterity. Myths and legends about Schubert the man are explored critically and the full range of his musical accomplishment is examined.
Buy the Book
Franz Schubert's song cycles, "Die Schone Mullerin" and "Winterreise" are cornerstones of the genre. But, as Richard Kramer argues in this book, Schubert envisioned many other songs as components of cyclical arrangements that were never published as such. By studying Schubert's original manuscripts, Kramer recovers some of these "distant cycles" and accounts for idiosyncrasies in the songs which other analyses have failed to explain. Returning the songs to their original keys, Kramer reveals linkages among songs which were often obscured as Schubert readied his compositions for publication. His analysis thus conveys even familiar songs in fresh contexts that will affect performance, interpretation and criticism. After addressing problems of multiple settings and revisions, Kramer presents a series of briefs for the reconfiguring of sets of songs to poems by Goethe, Rellstab and Heine. He deconstructs "Winterreise", using its convoluted origins to illuminate its textual contradictions. Finally, Kramer scrutinizes settings from the Abendrote cycle (on poems by Friedrich Schlegel) for signs of cyclic process.
Probing the farthest reaches of Schubert's engagement with the poetics of lieder, "Distant Cycles" exposes tensions between Schubert the composer and Schubert the merchant-entrepreneur.
Buy the Book
Franz Schubert and His World
During his short lifetime, Franz Schubert (1797-1828) contributed to a wide variety of musical genres, from intimate songs and dances to ambitious chamber pieces, symphonies, and operas. The essays and translated documents in Franz Schubert and His World examine his compositions and ties to the Viennese cultural context, revealing surprising and overlooked aspects of his music. Contributors explore Schubert's youthful participation in the Nonsense Society, his circle of friends, and changing views about the composer during his life and in the century after his death. New insights are offered about the connections between Schubert's music and the popular theater of the day, his strategies for circumventing censorship, the musical and narrative relationships linking his song settings of poems by Gotthard Ludwig Kosegarten, and musical tributes he composed to commemorate the death of Beethoven just twenty months before his own. The book also includes translations of excerpts from a literary journal produced by Schubert's classmates and of Franz Liszt's essay on the opera Alfonso und Estrella.
In addition to the editors, the contributors are Leon Botstein, Lisa Feurzeig, John Gingerich, Kristina Muxfeldt, and Rita Steblin.
Buy the Book
Schubert and the Symphony
Astonishingly, Schubert's symphonies have never received the detailed study that their prominence in the orchestral repertoire would suggest they deserve. In this book Professor Brian Newbould, perhaps the best-known of contemporary Schubert scholars, examines each symphony for its individuality and shows its relationship to Schubert's symphonic ouvre. He gives particular attention to the sketched works that have recently emerged in his own completions and to the two familiar masterpieces of Schubert's maturity, the `Unfinished' and the `Great C major'. He also casts new light on the role of Haydn and Mozart as models for the younger Schubert. Schubert and the Symphony is conceived as a companion to the symphonies for the listener, the professional musician and the student. BRIAN NEWBOULD is Professor of Music at the University of Hull. He has lectured extensively in Europe and North and South Ameica, and occasionally finds time to compose, conduct and perform.
Buy the Book
Schubert, Muller, and Die schone Mullerin
The collaboration of Schubert and the poet Wilhelm Muller produced some of the best loved of nineteenth-century lieder - in particular the song cycle Die schone Mullerin. Professor Youens shows us how this archetypal tale of love and rejection, which has its origins in medieval romance, Minnesong and popular German legend, is reflected in the poet's own experience, the realms of art and life intertwining. Professor Youens considers other poets' explorations of the theme of a miller maid and her suitors, and looks at other musical settings of Muller's mill poems. But above all she examines Muller's permutation of the literary legends as an exploration of erotic obsession, delusion, frenzy, disillusionment and death and the way in which Schubert crucially altered Muller's vision when the poetic cycle became a musical text.
Buy the Book
This compelling investigation of the later music of Franz Schubert explores the rich terrain of Schubert's impromptus and last piano sonatas. Drawing on the relationships between these pieces and Schubert's Winterreise song cycle, his earlier "Der Wanderer," the closely related "Unfinished" Symphony, and his story of exile and homecoming, "My Dream," Charles Fisk explains how Schubert's view of his own life may well have shaped his music in the years shortly before his death. Fisk's intimate portrayal of Schubert is based on evidence from the composer's own hand, both verbal (song texts and his written words) and musical (vocal and instrumental). Noting extraordinary aspects of tonality, structure, and gestural content, Fisk argues that through his music Schubert sought to alleviate his apparent sense of exile and his anticipation of early death. Fisk supports this view through close analyses of the cyclic connections within and between the works he explores, finding in them complex musical narratives that attempt to come to terms with mortality, alienation, hope, and desire.
Fisk's knowledge of Schubert's life and music, together with his astute and imaginative attention to musical detail, helps him achieve one of the most difficult goals in music criticism: to capture and verbalize the human content of instrumental music.
Buy the Book
Franz Schubert: Music and Belief
Remarkable new study...Its central submission, that we have hitherto disregarded or misinterpreted the most profound intuitions of a unique composer, certainly carries conviction. And even after one reading there are already musical passages that this Schubert enthusiast finds himself hearing in quite a new way. Bayan Northcott, BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE The old stereotypes of Schubert as Bohemian artist and unselfconscious creator have been replaced over the past half-century with a picture of a difficult man in difficult times. The author aims to redress the balance, concentrating firstly on works where Schubert's beliefs are clearly expressed (masses, other religious music, songs amounting to Geistliche Lieder). This also prompts an examination of instrumental masterpieces (Unfinished and Great C Major Symphonies, and the Wanderer Fantasy), which show that Schubert's religious side encompasses awe and terror as well as wonder. Schubert's 'complete voice' is thus clearly heard, rather than the sombre one currently emphasised in both literature and concert. LEO BLACK is a former BBC chief producer for music.
Buy the Book
Schubert's Fingerprints: Studies in the Instrumental Works
As Robert Schumann put it, 'Only few works are as clearly stamped with their author's imprint as his'. This book explores Schubert's stylistic traits in a series of chapters each discussing an individual 'fingerprint' with case studies drawn principally from the piano and chamber music. The notion of Schubert's compositional fingerprints has not previously formed the subject of a book-length study. The features of his personal style considered here include musical manifestations of Schubert's 'violent nature', the characteristics of his thematic material, and the signs of his 'classicizing' manner. In the process of the discussion, attention is given to matters of form, texture, harmony and gesture in a range of works, with regard to the various 'fingerprints' identified in each chapter. The repertoire discussed includes the late string quartets, the String Quintet, the E flat Piano Trio and the last three piano sonatas.
Developing ideas which she first proposed in a series of journal articles and contributions to symposia on Schubert, Professor Wollenberg takes into account recent literature by other scholars and draws together her own researches to present her view of Schubert's 'compositional personality'. Schubert emerges as someone exerting intellectual control over his musical material and imbuing it with poetic resonance.
Buy the Book