Schubert's Winter Journey: Anatomy of an Obsession (Paperback)
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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.
Drawing equally on his vast experience performing this work, on his musical knowledge, and on his training as a scholar, Ian 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.
About the Author
IAN BOSTRIDGE is universally recognized as one of the greatest Lieder interpreters of our era. In addition to his numerous award-winning recordings of opera and song, he was the original Caliban in Thomas Adès’s The Tempest, and he played Gustav von Aschenbach in English National Opera’s landmark 2007 production of Death in Venice. A D. Phil of Oxford University for his work on the significance of witchcraft in English public life from 1650 to 1750, he lives in London with his wife, the writer and critic Lucasta Miller, and their two children.
“Illuminating.”—The New Yorker
“Enthralling.... After reading it, we may listen differently to this supreme work of art.”—The New York Review of Books
“Exquisite.... [An] engaging mélange of memoir, cultural history, close musical reading, glimpses of biography and wide-reaching examples of the ripple effect of Winterreise's influence on writers, composers, historians, and thinkers.’” —The Independent (UK)
“Tantalizing....It’s easy to imagine stunned young acolytes carrying [Schubert’s Winter Journey] around the way they used to carry around Goethe’s Sorrows of Young Werther.” —Opera News
"Ian Bostridge, one of Britain’s foremost tenors...knows every last nuance of the work and has given it a great deal of thought. His beautifully produced book offers many new insights that will inform the enjoyment of both old admirers and newcomers to the music." —The Economist
"Wouldn't it be great if we nonexpert folks could get experts to give us guided tours of great music in humane, rather than technical, terms? That is what we have in Schubert's Winter Journey by Ian Bostridge. He is a well-known tenor/writer, and Franz Schubert's Winterreise, or Winter Journey (composed 1827-1828) is among his favorite works. After you read this book, it might become one of yours, too." —The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Bostridge’s curiosity enriches the book and the music." —The Boston Globe
"An unusual and compelling book: Omnivorous and digressive, it captures the enduring mystery of this seminal work in the lieder tradition. Readers who love “Winterreise” will find the book a rare treat, and those who do not yet know the piece have here a fine companion as they listen....Mr. Bostridge’s mastery of the music and the text is evident throughout." —The Wall Street Journal
“Elegant....Both deepens and contextualizes this emotionally somber masterpiece, the ideal music for darkest February.” —Washington Post
“A magnificent study of one of the most influential and simultaneously mysterious musical works of the Romantic period. And there’s no one better to crack it open than Bostridge, who knows its wormholes better than anyone.” —The Daily Beast
“Bostridge brings the knowledge of an expert but none of their jargon to this unexpected book that treats each song in this inscrutable cycle as an object in a cabinet of curiosities — to be handled and enjoyed as well as theorised.” —The Spectator (UK)
“Schubert’s Winter Journey provides a fascinating insight not just into the song cycle and the mindset of its composer but also that of a leading interpreter.” —Financial Times (UK)
“Winterreise, Bostridge argues, is ‘a message in a bottle set afloat in the cultural ocean of 1828’ and, with the confidence of a master oarsman, Bostridge sails these waters with awesome virtuosity.” —The Times (UK)
“Bostridge encourages us to experience the work as though we were eavesdropping on a performer's own dilemmas....Like the cycle itself, the study is a heady, circling journey of cross-reference, association and allusion.” —Hilary Finch, BBC Music Magazine (Music Books Choice)
“Bostridge’s highly enjoyable book provides a rewarding, intelligently written companion to the piece for those who know it well, as well as for those who are approaching it for the first time....This wide-ranging book is a fine tribute to his devotion to Schubert’s masterpiece.” —Sunday Times (UK)
“The songs are discussed in a series of insightful and gracefully written chapters, each drawing on a vast range of learning in cultural and social history, musicology and psychoanalysis.” —Daily Telegraph (UK)
“An impressive success: a long-gestated, intensely enjoyable study.” —Literary Review (UK)
“As one of our greatest exponents of German song, lieder, [Bostridge] brings to this book an insight which must elude most other scholars....What makes his approach so especially appealing is his love of Winterreise and his openness to its possibilities.” —Alan Taylor, The Herald (UK)
“Illuminating and comprehensive....Rich, highly readable.” —Kirkus
“Bostridge’s illuminating reflections will guide readers as they listen again, or for the first time, to the nuances of Schubert’s great work.” —Publisher’s Weekly
“Usually great singers cannot explain what they do. Ian Bostridge can. Whether or not you know Schubert’s Winter Journey, the book is gripping because it explains, in probing, simple words, how doomed love is transformed into art.” —Richard Sennett