Music Monday—Franz Peter Schubert Edition
As I mentioned in this post, Franz Peter Schubert is my favorite composer. German leider has consistently been a favorite genre of classical music. What I love about Schubert is first the texts that he chooses to set to music. Poets include Goethe and Müller. And then the way he sets them are absolutely beautiful. German composers are exceptional word painters.
Die Winterreise is a 24 piece song-cycle. The title translates as The Winter’s Journey, and each song tells the story of a man who, spurned by his lover, embarks on a journey through the winter woods. A summary of each song can be found here. A translation for each song can be found here. Not going to lie, a few years ago I bought this album after a fairly significant heartbreak. Such beautiful therapy.
Der Erlkönig is based on a Danish legend about the King of the Elves. Again, the word painting is incredible, and the story really quite terrifying. Translation found here. Notice how the vocalist alternates between four different characters, each with their own range and tone. We studied this in my music theory class, and one of the things that stood out most to me is how both the Father’s and the Son’s motifs go up at least a step every time they speak. This builds the tension and adds to the desperation of both characters. Also pay attention to the accompaniment when the Elf King speaks; it’s quite scary if you really think about it.
Der Doppelgänger comes from the song-cycle called Schwanegesang, or Swan Song. It is another example of Schubert’s ability to write beautifully haunting pieces about unrequited love. A translation, as well as more information, can be found here.