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Paper 11: Elective History 2 (i) Winterreise

Aims and Objectives 

  • To explore the ways that poetry and music work together in Schubert's Lieder 
  • To provide a detailed investigation of a single song cycle and its contexts 
  • To equip students with the necessary skills to consider song repertory from a variety of critical perspectives 
  • To encourage the study of song texts in their original language 

Description of the course 

This course investigates Schubert's great song cycle Winterreise, D.911 (1827), from a variety of perspectives, but begins from a single premise: that it is impossible to study the music of the work without a detailed understanding of the poems by Wilhelm Müller that Schubert set, and of the interaction between music and poetic text. 

With this in mind, the course is divided into two parts. The first part (to take place in Michaelmas term) will be devoted to Müller's poems, to Schubert's setting of German, and to ways of approaching Lieder texts more generally. The first four classes will be introductory; students whose knowledge of German is equivalent to A-level or beyond are welcome to attend these classes, or can join the course for weeks 5-8. Anyone with German skills below A-level standard, or who took A-level German but has not studied the language recently, should attend from week 1. 

The second part of the course (Lent term) will build on the material in the first half of the course, and will offer a series of lectures that look at Winterreise as a cycle, and study individual songs, as well as considering the piece in relation to Schubert's other late works, to the history of the Lied, to wider currents of musical and literary romanticism, and to its later reception and its performance history.

Lecturer: Paul Hoegger (MT), Ben Walton (LT)

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