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About Winterreise (download/view pdf booklet 13.8MB)

Standing alone in Schubert’s tiny "Death Apartment" in Vienna, it is not hard to imagine the last days of the composer’s life. Suffering with the later stages of Syphilis, Schubert’s doctor recommended he move in with his brother Ferdinand, where his family could better look after him. There are several accounts of the dampness and cold in which the great composer wrote his last songs and chamber works, and prepared the second half of Winterreise for publication. These last works are shaded with both darkness and light, with despair and the possibility of redemption -- and as so often with Schubert, the heartbreaking, momentary shift to major for reflection on what could have been.

Historians frequently discuss the lack of a female lead in Schubert’s own story. His adolescent crush on Therese Grob seems to have been only that, and his close relationships with gay men (Johann Mayrhofer and Franz von Schober, for example), whether sexual or not, were often stormy. Standing at just over five feet tall, his portly figure netted him the nickname "Schwammerl," or "little mushroom," and surely the Syphilis symptoms of red flush and patchy hair loss did not help his situation. His jovial disposition and talent earned the affection and admiration of his circle of artistic friends, but he otherwise seems to have lived a solitary life on the fringe of society. It is not such a stretch to imagine that Schubert felt a kinship with the unhappy wanderer of Winterreise.

Throughout most of his life, Schubert seems to have found refuge in his close friends, literature, a good glass of rose, and in writing music. Living in the shadow of Beethoven, few could believe there was another titan, albeit a gentler one, living in Vienna at the same time. Schubert scraped by as a composer, at last earning enough money to buy his first proper piano just a few months before he died. His extended forms and surprising modulations did not endear him to some of the Viennese public at the time, but led to a new synergy of words and music, and the development of true art song. His love for literature, and perhaps more importantly, his understanding of which poems would be heightened by music, sustained him. Even in his last days, when he no longer cared to eat, he asked his friend Franz von Schober to bring him book after book.

Schubert found some of his greatest inspiration in the poetry of his contemporary, Johann Ludwig Wilhelm Muller (1794-1827). The poet likewise had dreamed that someday a "kindred spirit" might come along and "hear the tunes behind the words." Unfortunately, the two never met - but what depth and beauty has been passed down from the union of their arts. Mullers poetry has its inspiration in the seemingly polar opposites of byronesque Romanticism and humble folksong. This combination must have resonated with the gemii#ich, cusp composer, whose writing itself espouses the poise of the Classical period with the chromaticism, passion, and self-reflection of the Romantic era. Schubert worked and reworked the Winterreise section of Muller's Gedichte aus den hinterlassenen Papieren eines reisenden Woldhornisten, taking license to reorder poems as he saw fit. He presents us with a clear musical and emotional path for the journey.

Schubert guides us through the cycle of songs with a deft, nearly expressionist take on Muller's haunting words. Using an economy of notes that fully express regret, joy, horror, irony and deepest sadness, the composer allows little room for sentimentality. Schuber(s markings and instructions to the performers may be few, but are specific and potent. Rarely has an accent or portato carried such psychological weight. Winterreise starts in a dark place and quickly seeks out even bleaker regions. A despondent young man chooses to leave town after a break up with his beloved. The young couple was serious enough to have spoken of love, and marriage had been considered. Originally from another town, the young man ever felt a stranger. And so he decides to leave at night, when there is less chance for an encounter with the young lady, or for derision from others. As he passes her home, he pauses to write "good night" upon the gate, so that she will know he thought of her as he left.

What follows is a journey through a barren, wintry landscape. As is typical of Romantic poetry, the outer world largely reflects the inner world of the wanderer. We encounter musical depictions of fickle weathervanes, frozen rivers hiding surging currents, a linden tree's whispering branches, mocking predatory birds, and hope, as a trembling, withered leaf in the wind. As our wanderer's state deteriorates, a cemetery is perceived as an unwelcoming inn, and three suns seem to appear in the frozen, arctic sky. Finally, on the outskirts of a small town, the wanderer meets alone, destitute musician, the Leiermann, or hurdy-gurdy player.

There are many interpretations of the role of the hurdy-gurdy player in Winterreise. Even after many years of living with this song cycle, the haunting drone that is the basis of this song can still make one catch their breath. The unkempt hurdy-gurdy player is often seen as representing Death, who has until now eluded the wanderer on his journey. Sometimes, the poor musician is interpreted as a vision the wanderer has of himse~ - what he has become, living on the edge of society, begging with his music to stay alive. The Hurdy Gurdy player is also the first person our wanderer encounters for which he has empathy. Perhaps his reaching out to this strange, old man represent a new beginning, a reaching out to humanity.

The wanderer's journey ends with two questions: 0 Strange old man, shall I go with you? Will you turn your hurdy-gurdy to my songs?0 The musician does not answer with words, but with an excited swell, followed by a sparse, hushed, minor cadence.

Baritone Randoll Scarlata
Known for his versatility and consummate musicianship, Randall Scarlata's repertoire spans five centuries and sixteen languages. A sought-after interpreter of new music, he has given world premieres of works by George Crumb, Paul Moravec, Richard Danielpour, Ned Rorem, Lori laitman, Thea Musgrave, Samuel Adler, Hilda Paredes, Daron Hagen, Wolfram Wagner and Christopher Theofanidis. He regularly performs the major German song cycles with pianists such as Cameron Stowe, Gilbert Kalish, Jeremy Denk, Jonathan Biss, lnon Barnatan, and laura Ward. He is a regular guest with Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, the Isabelle Stewart Gardner Museum, lyric Fest, Chamber Music Northwest, the Seattle Chamber Music Festival, Kneisel Hall Festival, the Skaneateles Chamber Music Festival, among many others. In addition, Mr. Scarlata's extensive recording catalog appears an the Chandas, Naxas, (RI, Gasparo, Arabesque, Bridge, Albany and Sana Luminus labels.

Randall Scarlata has appeared on concert stages throughout Europe, North America, South America, Australia, and Asia. He has been a soloist with the Philadelphia and Minnesota Orchestras, and with the Pittsburgh, San Francisco, American, Sydney, Ulster, Tankiinstler, National, New World, and BBC Symphonies, as well as the early music groups Wiener Akademie, Grand Tour, Tempesta di Mare, and Musica Angelica, among others. Many of the world's great music festivals have sought him out as a soloist, including the Ravinia, Marlboro, Edinburgh, Norfolk, Vienna, Music at Menlo, Gilmore, Salzburg, Norfolk, Aspen, and Spoleta (Italy) festivals.

Randall Scarlata's awards include First Prize at the Young Concert Artists International Auditions, First Prize at the Das Schubert Lied International Competition in Vienna, First Prize at the Joy in Singing Competition in New York, and the Alice Tully Vocal Arts Debut Recital Award. Mr. Scarlata received a Fulbright Grant to study at the Hochschule fiir Musik in Vienna, and spent several summers studying with the great French baritone, Gerard Souzay. He is co-artistic director of the Alpenkammermusik Chamber Music Festival in Carinthia, Austria during the summer, and gives masterclasses throughout the United States and abroad.

Gilbert Kalish
Gilbert Kalish leads a musical life af unusual variety and breadth. His profound influence an the musical community as educator and as pianist has established him as a major figure in American music making. He was the pianist af the Baston Symphony Chamber Players far thirty years and was a founding member af the Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, a group devoted to new music that flourished during the l 960s and 1970s. He is a frequent guest artist with many of the world's mast distinguished chamber ensembles and is an Artist of the Chamber Music Society af Lincoln Center. His thirty-year partnership with the great mezzo-soprano Jan DeGaetani was universally recognized as one of the most remarkable artistic collaborations of our time. He maintains long-standing duos with cellists Timothy Eddy and Joel Krosnick, and he appears frequently with soprano Dawn Upshaw. As an educator, Gilbert Kalish is Distinguished Professor and Head af Performance Activities at the State University af New York at Stony Brook. From 1969 to 1997, he was a faculty member at the Tanglewood Music Center, serving as Chair of the Faculty from 1985 to 1997. In 1995, he was presented with the Paul Fromm Award by the University of Chicago Music Department far distinguished service to the music of our time. In January 2002, he was the recipient of Chamber Music America's Service Award far his exceptional contributions in the field of chamber music, and, most recently, he was awarded the George Peabody Medal far outstanding contributions to music in the United States.

English Text


1. Good Night
A stranger I came here,
A stranger I depart.
May was kind to me
With many flowers.

The girl spoke of love,
Her mother even of marriage –
Now the world is so gloomy,
The road covered in snow.

I cannot choose the time
To begin my journey,
I must find my own way
In this darkness.

A shadow of the moon travels
With me as my companion,
And upon the white fields
I shall seek the deer’s track.

Why should I stay here longer
So that people can drive me away?
Let stray dogs howl
In front of their master’s house;

Love loves to wander –
God made it that way –
From one to the other,
My dear one, good night!

I don't wish to disturb your dreams,
It would be a shame to wake you.
You will not hear my steps,
Softly, softly I will close the door!

As I pass by, I write
Upon your gate: Good night,
So that you may see
That I thought of you.

2. The Weathervane
The wind plays with the weathervane
Of my lovely darling's house.
I thought, in my delusion,
That it was mocking the poor fugitive.

He should really have noticed sooner
That symbol above the house,
Then he wouldn't have expected
To find a faithful woman within.

The wind plays with the hearts inside
As it does on the roof, only not as
Why should they think about my grief?
Their child is a rich bride.

3. Frozen Tears
Frozen drops fall
Down from my cheeks.
How did I not notice
That I have been weeping?

Ah tears, my tears,
Are you so lukewarm
That you freeze to ice
Like cool morning dew?

Yet you burst from the well
Of my heart so burning hot,
As ii you wanted ta melt
All of winter's ice!

4. Numbness
I search the snow in vain
For a trace of her steps.
Where she, arm and arm with me,
Crossed the green meadow.

I want ta kiss the ground,
To penetrate ice and snow
With my hot tears,
Until I see the earth.

Where will I find a blossom,
Where will I find green grass?
The flowers are all dead,
The grass has become so pale.

Shall I take no memento
With me from this place?
If my pain ceases,
Who will then remind me of her?

My heart is as if dead,
Her image frozen cold within it;
If my heart ever thaws again,
Her image will melt away, too!

5. The Linden Tree
At the well by the gate
There stonds a linden tree;
I dreamed in its shadow
Many a sweet dream.

I carved in its bark
Many a word of love;
In joy and in sorrow
I was always drawn to it.

Again today I had to travel
Past it in the depths of night.
Even though it was dark,
I closed my eyes.

And its branches rustled,
As ii they called to me:
ucome here to me, friend,
Here you'll find your peace!"

The cold winds blew
Right in my face;
The hat flew off my head,
I did not turn back.

Now I am many hours
Away from that place,
And still I hear the whispering:
"Here you would find your peace!"

6. Flood of Tears
Many a tear from my eyes
Has fallen in the snow;
Its cold flakes absorb
Thirstily my burning pain.

When it's time for the grass to sprout,
A gentle wind blows,
And the ice breaks apart
And the soft snow melts away.

Snow, you know about my longing,
Tell me, where does your course lead?
Just follow my tears,
The brook will soon take you up.

You will follow the brook into the lawn,
In and out of its cheerful streets;
When you feel my tears burning,
You will have reached my sweetheart's house.

7. At the River
You who rushed along so cheerfully,
You clear, wild river,
How quiet you have become,
You give no parting word.

With a hard still crust
You have covered yourself,
You lie cold and unmoving,
Outstretched in the sand.

In your cover, I carve
With a sharp stone
The name of my sweetheart
And the hour and day.

The day of the first greeting,
The day on which I left;
Around the name and figures winds
A broken ring.

My heart, in this stream
Do you now recognize your image?
And under its crust,
Is there also such a raging torrent?

English Text (con't)

8. Looking Back
It feels like burning under both my feet,
Even though I walk on ice and snow;
I do not wish to stop and catch my breath
Until I can no longer see the town's spires.

I tripped on every stone
As I hurried out of the town;
The crows hurled chunks of snow and ice
At my hat from every house.

How differently you received me before,
You town of inconstancy!
At your sparkling windows sang
The lark and nightingale in competition.

The bushy linden trees bloomed,
The clear streams rushed along brightly,
And, ah, two maiden's eyes glowed -
That was when your fate was sealed, friend!

Whenever that day enters my thoughts,
I want to look back once more,
I want to stumble back again
And stand silently before her house.

9. Will O' The Wisp
lnto the deepest mountain chasms
A will o' the wisp has lured me;
How I will find a way out
Does not weigh on my thoughts.

I'm used to going astray,
And truly, every way leads 1o the goal.
Our joys, our sorrows,
Are all a will o' the wisp's game!

Through the mountain stream's dry channel
I wend my way calmly downward.
Every river finds its way to the ocean,
And every sorrow to its grave.

10. Rest
Only now do I notice how tired I am,
As I lay myself down to rest;
Walking kept me going strong
On the inhospitable road.

My feet didn't ask for rest,
It was too cold to stand still,
My back felt no burden,
The storm helped to blow me onward.

In a charcoal-burner's tiny house
I have found shelter;
But my limbs won't relax,
Their wounds burn so much.

You, too, my heart, in strife and storm
So wild and so bold:
Feel now, in this silence,
The serpent with its burning sting!

11. Dream of Spring
I dreamed of colorful flowers,
The way they bloom in May;
I dreamed of green meadows,
Of happy bird calls.

And when the roosters crowed,
My eye awakened;
It was cold and dark,
The ravens shrieked on the roof.

But on the windowpanes -
Who painted the leaves there?
Are you laughing at the dreamer
Who saw flowers in winter?

I dreamed of love reciprocated,
Of a beautiful girl,
Of hearts and of kissing,
Of joy ond bliss.

And when the roosters crowed,
My heart awakened;
Now I sit here alone
And still think of the dream.

I close my eyes again,
Still, my heart beats so warmly.
When will you leaves on the window turn green?
When will I hold my beloved in my arms?

12. Solitude
As a dreary cloud
Moves through a clear sky,
When in the tops of the fir trees,
A faint breeze blows,

This is how I travel my path,
Onward with heavy step,
Through bright, happy life,
Solitary and without a greeting.

Oh, how still the air is!
Oh, how bright the world is!
When the storms were still raging,
I was not so miserable.

13. The Post
From the highroad a post horn sounds.
What is it -why do you leap so high,
My heart?

The post does not bring a letter far you,
Why the strange compulsion,
My heart?

Of course, the post comes from the town,
Where I once had a dear sweetheart,
My heart!

Would you really like to take a look over there,
And ask how things are going,
My heart?

14. The Old Man's Head
The frost has spread a white sheen
All over my hair;
I thought I had become an old man
And was very pleased about it.

But soon it melted away,
Again I have black hair,
I am horrified by my youth -
How much further to the grave!

From sunset to dawn
Many a head has turned white.
Who would believe it? Mine has not
Over this whole journey!

15. The Crow
A crow has accompanied me
Since I left the town,
Until today, back and forth,
It circled over my head.

Crow, you strange creature,
Will you not leave me?
Do you mean to seize me
As your prey?

Well, it won't be much longer
that I wander on this road.
Crow, let me finally see
loyalty unto the gravel

16. Last Hope
Here and there on the trees
Are colored leaves to be seen.
And I stop in front of the trees
Often, lost in thought.

I watch a particular leaf
And pin my hopes on it;
If the wind plays with my leaf,
My whole being trembles.

Ah, and if the leaf falls to earth,
My hope falls along with it.
I fall to earth as well,
And weep on the grave of my hope.

17. In the Village
The dogs bark, the chains rattle,
The people sleep in their beds,
Dreaming of things they don't have,
Refreshing themselves in good and bad.

And in the morning all has vanished.
Then, alter they've had their share of pleasure,
They hope they might still be able to find
Something left over on their pillows.

Go on barking at me, vigilant dogs,
Don't let me rest when it's time for slumber.
I am finished with all my dreams.
Why should I linger among the sleepers?

18. The Stormy Morning
How the storm has torn open
The heavens' grey cover!
The remains of clouds flutter
Around in weary strife.

And fiery red flames
Dart around among them;
That's what I call a morning
That really lits my mood!

My heart sees in the heavens
Its own image painted -
It's nothing but the winter,
Winter, cold and wild!

19. lllusion
A light dances in a friendly way before me,
I follow it here and there;
I follow it gladly and watch it,
How it entices the wanderer.

Ah, a man as wretched as I am
Happily gives himself over to the trick
That, beyond the ice and night and fear,
A bright, warm house is waiting.

And a loving soul within -
Only illusion lets me win!

20. The Sign Past
Why do I avoid the routes
That the other travelers take?
Why search out the hidden pathways
Through the snowy mountoin cliffs?

I've done nothing wrong
That I should shy away from mankind -
What is this foolish compulsion
That drives me into desolation?

Sign posts stand along the routes
Pointing to the cities,
And I wander ever further
Without rest and look far rest.

I see a sign post standing there,
Fixed before my gaze.
I must travel a road
From which no one ever returned.

21. The Inn
My way has led me
To a graveyard;
Here I'll settle in,
I feel as if I am home.

You, green funereal wreaths,
Must be the sign
That invites weary travelers
Into the cool inn.

Tell me, are all the rooms
In this house full?
I'm tired enough to drop,
I feel mortally wounded.

Oh, merciless inn,
You also turn me away?
Well, onward then, still further,
My faithful walking staff!

22. Courage
If the snow flies in my face,
I shake it off again.
When my heart speaks in my breast,
I sing loudly and cheerfully.

I don't hear what it says to me,
I have no ears to listen;
I don't feel what it laments,
lamenting is far fools.

Happily into the world I go,
Facing wind and weather!
If there's no God upon the earth,
Then we ourselves are Gods!

23. The Three Suns
I saw three suns in the sky,
Stared at them hard far a long time;
And they stayed there so stubbornly,
As ii they didn't want ta leave me.

Ah, you are not my suns!
Go, look into someone else's face!
Yes, recently I, too, had three;
But now the best two have gone down.

If only the third would also set!
I would feel better in the dark.

24. The Hurdy-gurdy Player
Over there behind the village
Stands a hurdy-gurdy player,
And with frozen lingers
He plays as best he can.

Barefoot on the ice,
He totters here and there,
And his little plate
Remains always empty.

No one listens to him,
No one notices him,
And the dogs growl
At the old man.

And he just lets it happen
As it will,
Plays, and his hurdy-gurdy
Is never still.

Strange old man,
Shall I go with you?
Will you turn your hurry-gurdy
to my songs?