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Schubert's Winter Journey by Ian Bostridge

Schubert's Winter Journey (original 2015; edition 2015)

by Ian Bostridge (Author)

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177699,345 (4.59)8
Title:Schubert's Winter Journey
Authors:Ian Bostridge (Author)
Info:Faber And Faber (2015), Edition: Main, 528 pages
Collections:Your library, Lectura
Tags:Música, Winterreise, Divulgació

Work details

Schubert's Winter Journey: Anatomy of an Obsession by Ian Bostridge (2015)



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English (5)  German (1)  All languages (6)
Showing 5 of 5
A highly informative book on Schubert's famous song cycle (the greatest piece of classical music ever, as far as I'm concerned) by the eminent British singer Ian Bostridge. I admit I'd have preferred if he'd delved a bit deeper into the musicological side of things, but he makes up for that by putting his historical education to excellent use and presenting the reader with a wealth of information on not only Schubert's life and times but also on the broader context of early 19th century Austria.

Bostridge proceeds song by song and has something interesting to say about each of them, on a very wide range of subjects - whether he interprets Wilhelm Müller's poetry, takes a look at a song's structure, places it in a biographical context, considers possible political implications or elucidates it from his extensive experience of performing the cycle. This is no deep analysis and is not meant to be; rather it is someone who loves Schubert's songs and knows them intimately chatting about them in an almost conversational tone. I assume that there probably is not very much new here for the Schubert expert but for the layman it is a treasure trove of both information and insight. The author is not afraid to go off on a tangent, either, and his frequent digressions are just as rewarding as when he is staying on subject. The book contains many illustrations, too, although that part did not come across too well in my Kindle edition. As, judging by other reviews, the book is quite beautifully designed, too, I'm regretting a bit that I did not invest in a hardcover version, but the book was well worth it for the written content alone and is recommended to everyone who wants to explore the background of Schubert's Winterreise in more depth than the liner notes of a CD generally provide.
1 vote Larou | Mar 28, 2017 |
A great series of eclectic essays, one for each song of the Wintereisse cycle. Bestride has great and intimate knowledge of the subject, as he has performed the cycle more than 100 times in his career. While reading this, my temporary obsession with the music has waned, so I tailed off and didn't finish every essay. Will return to it when I go through my next Schubert phase. ( )
  BooksForDinner | Jan 21, 2016 |
Ian Bostridge, one of greatest Lieder interpreters of our age, writes movingly of the subjects, themes, and historical context of Franz Schubert’s last great song cycle, Winterreise. Offering a chapter for each of the twenty-four songs of the cycle, Bostridge’s discourse ranges from performance issues (his own and other great performances in the history of the cycle) to subtle decisions that each singer and accompanist must make. He discusses Wilhelm Müller’s romantic poems against other romantic efforts of the era. He explores the repression of artistic and political aspirations in the fractured post-Napoleonic Germanic states. He teases out intriguing moments in Schubert’s life that might have led him to this last burst of song. And although he affects at times the jaundiced, superficial style of writers like David Shields or Adam Mars-Jones, he can’t help his natural enthusiasm for the songs, native optimism, and erudition (Bostridge holds a D.Phil. in history from the University of Oxford) from coming through. And we are all the better for it.

This is a beautiful book. Printed on heavy gloss paper with full colour reprints of paintings and historical documents, it presents itself as a labour of love. And perhaps reading it must be that as well. Despite Bostridge’s expressed hope that the book might bring newcomers to Schubert’s winter cycle, I think no one would pick up the book who was not already intimately familiar with Schubert’s work whether through Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau’s definitive recordings or through Bostridge’s own. But even those familiar with the work will find it difficult to recall each individual song as they read the chapter that relates to it. I found I wanted to put each song on repeat on the stereo as I read Bostridge’s musings or shared his careful research. As that might have been intolerable for others in the household, I made due with simply playing the cycle through numerous times.

If you already own one or more renditions of Winterreise, you are the perfect reader for this fascinating work. I recommend it heartily. ( )
1 vote RandyMetcalfe | Nov 9, 2015 |
Suffice it to say that even when I found myself quibbling or feeling left out by some point Bostridge makes, it was always in light of a full acceptance that he is more than entitled to his opinion. There is not a phrase of pontification or dogmatic preaching in this very long book! Possibly the most enthralling aspect was the author's generosity of spirit, which helped me feel like a participant, although silent and unseen, in the holding of ideas and interpretations to the light as he twists and turns them, then arrives at some fresh, startling notion. Coincidentally, a friend who knew I was reading it, gave me a DVD of a painfully theatrical "staged performance" by Bostridge and Julius Drake (plus "cast"). Had his book not already introduced me to the singer's deep entanglement with Winterreise, I would have found much of it bizarre for the sake of being so, but despite the frequently incongruous and incoherent staging, he never loses sight of his gut-level understanding and interpretation of the songs, making it a terrifying and restorative experience. (An additional feature gives a particularly unpleasant glimpse into the director's insistence on making the song cycle something palpably wrong, which, to my mind, exonerates Bostridge and Drake.) ( )
  Boito_2 | Sep 9, 2015 |
Fascinating study of Ian Bostridge's ruminations and digressions on various aspects of Schubert's "Winterreise" [Winter Journey], the famous song cycle about a jilted young man, wandering through a winter landscape. The cycle takes us through the young man's gamut of emotions at his lost love and thoughts of death. Mr. Bostridge, the famous tenor and Lieder singer, has sung this work many times in the concert hall. He covers each individual song of the 24 songs in the cycle, touching on all kinds of information; his interpretation of what he feels the meaning might be behind the lyrics; and short musical analyses. Many very complete musical analyses have been written so he keeps this part brief. His subjects range from famous literary figures from Aesop to Kerouac, popular culture figures such as Bob Dylan and his Tambourine Man as descendants of Schubert's Leiermann [Hurdy-Gurdy Man] and German/Austrian folklore. There was much science information such as on climate, frost flowers on windowpanes, WHY a leaf falls, and sundogs. I liked how it humanized Schubert: as he was in his last days, revising music, the book brought out how much he loved the writings of [[James Fenimore Cooper]].

I personally feel this music should be sung by a baritone; it just sounds "better" to me; I guess I'm used to my Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau recording. [He was the sine qua non of Lieder singers.] This was a wonderful book on this subject; I recommend it to anyone who loves this music already or to anyone wishing to learn about this classic. I commend Mr. Bostridge for his own translations of Wilhelm Müller's poetry from the German, which opened each chapter. ( )
2 vote janerawoof | Mar 24, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 030796163X, Hardcover)

An exploration of the world’s most famous and challenging song cycle, Schubert's Winter Journey (Winterreise), by a leading interpreter of the work, who teases out the themes—literary, historical, psychological—that weave through the twenty-four songs that make up this legendary masterpiece.

Completed in the last months of the young Schubert’s life, Winterreise has come to be considered the single greatest piece of music in the history of Lieder. Deceptively laconic—these twenty-four short poems set to music for voice and piano are performed uninterrupted in little more than an hour—it nonetheless has an emotional depth and power that no music of its kind has ever equaled. A young man, rejected by his beloved, leaves the house where he has been living and walks out into snow and darkness. As he wanders away from the village and into the empty countryside, he experiences a cascade of emotions—loss, grief, anger, and acute loneliness, shot through with only fleeting moments of hope—until the landscape he inhabits becomes one of alienation and despair. Originally intended to be sung to an intimate gathering, performances of Winterreise now pack the greatest concert halls around the world. 

Drawing equally on his vast experience performing this work (he has sung it more than one hundred times), on his musical knowledge, and on his training as a scholar, Bostridge teases out the enigmas and subtle meanings of each of the twenty-four lyrics to explore for us the world Schubert inhabited, his biography and psychological makeup, the historical and political pressures within which he became one of the world’s greatest composers, and the continuing resonances and affinities that our ears still detect today, making Schubert’s wanderer our mirror.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:23 -0400)

Draws on the author's first-hand experience with Franz Schubert's "Winterreise," his musical knowledge, and his training as a scholar to explore the meanings of the songs comprising this masterpiece, one of the greatest pieces of music ever written for the male solo voice.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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