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Schubert's Winter Journey: Anatomy of an Obsession (Inglese) Copertina rigida – 18 dic 2014

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Copertina rigida, 18 dic 2014
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Descrizione prodotto


'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.' (Ivan Hewett Daily Telegraph)

'What emerges with compelling force is the author's intellectual curiosity and passion for his subject ... 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.' (Hannah Nepil Financial Times)

Ian Bostridge is a great guide to the mysterious winter-scape and supreme symbiosis of word and music ... exquisite and revealing. (Rebecca K Morrison Independent)

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 *****)

'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.' (Nick Rennison Sunday Times)

'This year will be Bostridge's thirtieth of performing Winterreise and Schubert's Winter Journey is a distillation of the tenor's absorption of the piece, both as performer and historian. 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.' (Neil Fisher The Times)

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 ... Bostridge covers a lot of ground, at speed, but the artlessness of his prose (conversational, without ever feeling contrived) carries the reader along with inquisitive, interrogative force. Rather than an account of discoveries made earlier, there's the sense that the book itself is an act and process of discovery, crystallising the thoughts, instinctive responses and research of decades into text. It wanders, like Schubert's hero, drifting and alighting in unexpected places. (Alexandra Coghlan Spectator)

'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 a doomed love is transformed into art.' (Richard Sennett)

'An impressive success: a long-gestated, intensely enjoyable study of Schubert's Winterreise.' (Rupert Christiansen Literary Review)

A beautifully presented, delightful and deeply fascinating book. (Hugo Shirley Gramophone)

Descrizione del libro

In Schubert's Winter Journey, Ian Bostridge brings to life Franz Schubert's song cycle Winterreise, one of the most powerful compositions in classical music.

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20 di 20 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
5.0 su 5 stelle Kindle Version or Hardcover? 13 febbraio 2015
Di Eclecticism - Pubblicato su
Formato: Formato Kindle Acquisto verificato
I can't add much to the excellent reviews posted so far. However, I've heard people say that this book really should be bought in hardback for the illustrations and other typography. I don't think this is necessary. I'm reading it through the Kindle app on an iPad, and it looks great. The only glitch I've noticed is when the German text of a poem is longer than one page. In that case the app renders it as page 1, German text; 2, English translation; 3. continuation of German text; continuation of English translation. In a "real" book the pages would run German, continuation; English, continuation. Is this worth the significant price differential? For me, emphatically yes. The illustrations are rendered in full color in the app and look good.

Bostridge's analysis of all of the songs is fascinating, none more so than the one about the charcoal-burner's hut (Rast). This, and others, will make you think twice and more about a cycle you think you know well.

[Edit: I've been informed that the hard-copy version of this book renders the translation pages the same way as described above: German, English translation, German continuation, English translation continuation. So there is even less a difference between E-version and hard copy than I thought. Apologies.]
20 di 21 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
5.0 su 5 stelle Deep and fascinating 22 febbraio 2015
Di Alan A. Elsner - Pubblicato su
Formato: Copertina rigida Acquisto verificato
This lavishly produced and illustrated volume is a testament to the wide-ranging intellect of Ian Bostridge. I am awaiting the delivery of his recording of Winterreise as a companion to this book having grown up on the classic recording by Dietrich Fischer-Diskau and Gerald Moore. I want to see how the many insights in this book are translated into performance.

The book is divided into chapters, each one analyzing the 24 songs of the cycle. But actually the texts by Wilhelm Mueller are just the jumping off point for wide-ranging meditations about the times in which the poet and composer lived and the intellectual currents that were then flowing. There are occasional insights into performance and the music itself but we also learn about the repressive politics of the Austrian Empire which Schubert and his circle chafed against; we learn about (and see) the art of Kaspar David Friedrich, the poetry of Byron and Goethe, the science of snowflakes, the significance of the Linden tree in German poetry and art - we even learn that Schubert (and Goethe) were avid fans of the novels of James Fenimore Cooper and that on his deathbed Schubert split his time between correcting proofs of Winterreise and reading the latest Wild West adventure.

It seems that Ian Bostridge knows everything. What has he not read? Which connection has he not drawn? What is a will o' the wisp and how does it happen? How quickly did the stage coach travel from Frankfurt to Berlin? What happened tp charcoal burners at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution? What symbolic role do crows play in western civilization and our consciousness?

The portrait of Schubert that emerges here is very different from the chubby, smiling fellow of popular myth. Bostridge quotes a tirade he is said to have unleashed not long before his death at two musicians who approached him to write a song for them. "You call yourselves artists? Blowers and fiddlers is what you are, the whole lot of you! I am an artist. I am Schubert, Franz Schubert. And don't you forget it! And if the word art is mentioned, it is me they are talking about, not you, not you worms and insects, you crawling, gnawing worms that ought to be crushed under my foot - the foot of the man who is reaching for the stars."

Bostridge observes how carefully Schubert put the song cycle together, changing the order of some of the poems to achieve particular effects. Even his decision to include or exclude exclamation marks from the titles of some of the songs was deeply calculated. He knew he was writing a masterpiece and he wanted it to be perfect.

There are so many gems in this book, acute observations that illuminate the way we listen to this masterwork. Bostridge observes, and this never struck me before, that in Schubert the major key often seems sadder than the minor. He tries to explain the true horror of the syphilis that the composer grappled with the last five years of his short life and the awful (and totally ineffective) treatments then available for it. He links the mood swings brought on by the disease to some elements of the music. He examines Schubert's Catholic faith (or lack thereof), observing that the six masses he composed all omit the lines about life everlasting and resurrection.

This is a deep and fascinating book that will repay frequent return visits. It deepens our admiration for the song cycle by a man on the edge of death who tackled the deepest issues of the human condition.
32 di 34 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
5.0 su 5 stelle A fine book on a fine obsession 8 febbraio 2015
Di Lilac - Pubblicato su
Formato: Formato Kindle Acquisto verificato
Bostridge adds here the voice of a fine writer to his wonderful singing voice. He writes interestingly and fluently and his particular strength is his direct personal experience.

Schubert's Winterreise is a compendium of 24 songs, described here one per chapter. They are amongst his last, arguably the world finest. They are bleak and austere passages of a wanderer, theatrical and melodious, speaking of lost love. Schubert, the composer who died with 31 in Vienna, considered Winterreise his best work. It has left deep impressions ever since its performance around 1828 and Bostridge states that it should be seen as: "art which should be as much a part of our common experience as the poetry of Shakespeare and Dante, the paintings of Van Gogh and Pablo Picasso, the novels of the Brontë sisters or Marcel Proust." He shows how the colossus of an artwork has influenced writers, composers, historians, and thinkers ever since - including Beckett, Benjamin Britten, Djuna Barnes, Paul Auster, Thomas Mann, and Slavoj Zizek.

Naturally there are questions brought up in Schubert's songs. One is about the identity of the mysterious wanderer, who is not at home anywhere. "Do we identify with him, or seek to separate ourselves from him? Is he sympathetic or repellent? Insightful or embarrassing? Weird? Normal?" Another question concerns the equally enigmatic Hurdy-Gurdy Man. Bostridge writes that it is "one of those magical, totemic pieces of music which seem to have a power and a resonance beyond all rational explanation." Is the old man Death? Or is this how the dying Schubert saw himself? "Should I go with you?" asks the wanderer. "Will you to my songs/ Play your hurdy-gurdy?"

Bostridge connects Winterreise at various times also with Dylan songs. Isn't Dylan's tambourine man related with the hurdy-gurdy man when he is disappearing "far past the frozen leaves / The haunted, frightened trees?" This weary but not sleepy poet-wanderer talks of hearing "laughin', spinnin', swingin' madly across the sun." It's not a million miles from his jingle-jangle to Schubert's hurdy-gurdy.

I liked especially the chapter on song 1 [Gute Nacht/ good night] as it opens the mystery of what happened to the wanderer. Did he dump her or she him? Did he never feel at home or was he simply discovered on consuming love with his tutored student with whose family he lived in their house? In any case, ensuing is an art history-making story of wreck of love and life. There is a respite in song 5 [der Lindenbaum] that has become like a folk song in its reminiscing of better times under this romantic tree connecting to a tearful song 6 [Wasserflut/flood] where Bostridge dwells perhaps a trifle too much on triplets. Chapter 10 [Rast, rest] is about a rest in a charcoal burner’s hut. Besides the obvious meaning, Bostridge indicates there may be a connection with rebellious politics of the carbonaries. Song 11 [Fruehlingstraum/ dream of spring] is amongst the favorites, say on youtube. The discussion on song 12 [Einsamkeit/loneliness) has a theme in common with many of Schubert’s songs. The exposition on song 22 [Mut/courage) deals with the state of religious belief in Schubert's Vienna. It also introduces religious themes in his other works. The last song, about the Hurdy Gurdy man, closes with the mystery of whether this doppelgaenger was along with the wanderer all the way, as his fate so to speak or in some other sense, and so with questions of identity.
We are put through a cascade of emotions, the stages of grief albeit not in the classical sequence of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance in the Kuebler-Ross sense but in a Schubert- Mueller way with a finer theatricality: his is one starting with loss, anger, deep loneliness, rumination, despair, lifted only for fleeting moments by hope, by illusions, helped by outbursts of insanity even, until the landscape turns into one of alienation.
Ian Bostridge is a great guide and storyteller to the mysterious winterscape and supreme symbiosis of word and music, an apex of song. His expositions are far reaching, connecting many facets of then and now, often in free flow of association. The post-Napoleonic times really come to life. One senses that he has a doctoral degree from Oxford of 1990 for a dissertation on witchcraft in English life from 1650 -- 1750 and that he taught political theory and British history before devoting himself to a career as a singer in 1996.
Amongst his personal likings Bostridge generally lists reading, cooking and pictures. And surely we can add writing, as he has cooked up quite some dishes here; and the last obsession with pictures graces this book with themes of Winterreise as well.
An obsession with the iconic permeates also his David Alden film that may have drawn a somewhat younger audience.
Another detailed and excellent account of Winterreise is by the music historian Susan Youens. Her layout is similar and her poetic descriptions unique if somewhat less personal. The cerebral and amusing Wanderer’s Doppelgaenger by Hermes O deals with introducing a teen to Schubert’s music.
4 di 4 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
5.0 su 5 stelle New dimensions of historically informed performance 18 febbraio 2015
Di Tim Pfaff - Pubblicato su
Formato: Copertina rigida Acquisto verificato
Every performance changes a piece of music, some performances more than others. Ian Bostridge has sung Franz Schubert’s Winterreise, 24 haunting songs about love gone wrong, more than 100 times over 30 years. Now it turns out that the tenor may just have given his best published performance of the piece yet with his new book, Schubert’s Winter Journey: Anatomy of an Obsession. His rangy yet probing study of one of the undisputed masterpieces of Western classical music is so game-changing that it effectively upends Bostridge’s own earlier performing self, at least as reflected in his two previous commercial recordings of Winterreise. Apologies to Warner Classics, which has just re-released them: they’re now obsolete.
It’s not that you can’t still listen to them with … well, pleasure was never quite the response to these extreme expressions of erotic emotional meltdown. But this extraordinary music sounds more otherworldly – also, paradoxically, more grounded – after digesting Bostridge’s thoughts on it. He avoids the usual word “interpretation” when talking about the way he – or any performer – realizes the piece live, and he’s not dogmatic about his new verbal view of the work. He’s reporting back about what he’s learned from investigating the things that have gotten under his skin while singing Winterreise all those years.
To hold it in your hand, you’d never suspect that this appealing little book, with its 500 reader-friendly pages, is trouble. It’s small but weighty, beautifully printed, pleasantly heavy in the hand and meticulously assembled. Lavish illustrations, finely reproduced, fall exactly where you want them to in the text. The book wears its learning, if not exactly lightly, readably and compellingly. Bostridge takes the tired idea that a work of art is a product of its time, grabs it by its ankles, turns it upside down and shakes the change out of its pocket. Time-honored assumptions about Winterreise melt away.
The Wilhelm Müller poems Schubert set to music nearly two hundred years ago are not explicit about who the narrator is, if there even is one, and whether he’s dumper or dumpee in the affair just ended. For that matter, is there a “story” at all? (Controversially, based on his onstage experience, Bostridge thinks the songs can and perhaps sometimes should be performed in other than their published order, and occasionally not even as a complete cycle.) But everyone who’s heard Winterreise knows there’s a story there – a ghost story, maybe.
“What is our hero doing, creeping out of this house at night?” Bostridge asks about the wanderer, the “I” speaking in the first song, Gute Nacht (“Good Night”). “Rather negligently, it wasn’t something I had given much thought to before I sat down to write this book. … Why should a young man, of lower economic status, be living in a house with a young woman and her family?”
He speculates that that the youth may have been a “house tutor.” Then, as in tiger-parent now, being a private tutor to children of the affluent was a good apprentice job for men of intellect. Many subsequent giants of German culture, including visionaries-to-be like Friedrich Hölderlin – and possibly the poet Müller – were house tutors once. “Very often emotional complications ensued,” Bostridge observes.
Almost instantly, the specifics of that first song – the girl’s speaking of love, her mother’s speaking of marriage – become signifiers that the young man may have been thrown out of a home in which his ardor for his charge was requited. The winter wanderer Bostridge posits is no bloodless Hummel figurine. “Our protagonist is that oh-so-modern man, a stalker,” he writes. “But isn’t the notion of stalking built into our very concept of romantic love, our founding myth, one which might all too easily keel over into pathology and abuse?”
The author devotes a chapter to each of the songs, but while that strategy is a wily way to explore cultural contexts and trace themes, it does not, as the Brits put it, “sort” things. Because the author’s observations and reflections are occasioned by details of the text and music as they appear, the book is, like music, digressive and repetitive – and in its own way as transfixing as this particular music, which has always held audiences in a discomfiting thrall, a wreck of eros from which they cannot divert their ears. Reading the book is like being in a late-night conversation of the brightest kind, minus the booze. Before he was a singer, Bostridge was a scholar, his university dissertation on witchcraft in Enlightenment England. There you have it: Dionysus and Apollo in mortarboards.
Schubert, its master, got the “art song” to act out. The composer himself – by his own estimation no great shakes as a singer or pianist – gave the first performance, solo, for his closest friends, unreserved fans of his music who were nevertheless dumbfounded and alarmed by the new songs. (They knew their friend was dying of syphilis.) Today, you’re as likely to hear these unsparing depictions – enactments, really – of the gradual disintegration of a psyche in staged, choreographed, filmed or otherwise amplified productions as on the bare recital stage. Bostridge himself is the star of an overwrought 1997 film of Winterreise, directed by David Alden, that mercilessly works the madness angle, making the protagonist nuts from the get-go, spiraling down from there.
Some other singers have skated over the surface beauties of Der Lindenbaum (“The Linden Tree”), easily the most traditionally beautiful of the Winterreise set and so popular it has since morphed into a folk song. The most famous of Schubert’s 600 songs, in performance it can come like an oasis in this icy desert. Bostridge gives it his longest chapter – which ranges from a look at the tree itself, botanically, to an appraisal of its significance in the Romantic imagination (the song, sung, appears in Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain) to a broader discussion of “the danger of music.” Both author and singer chart the plunge from deceptive spring to menacing winter.
As imagery, musical as well as verbal, Winterreise is a color chart of the idea of cold. Explicating its kaleidoscopic depiction of winter, Bostridge writes in lay scientific language about a host of weather phenomena: snowflakes, windowpane ice-flowers, will-o’-the-wisps and parhelia, and even historical weather patterns. (Central European winters were even colder back then.) There are charts and graphs among the illustrations!
Elsewhere are mini-tracts on other elements of nature in the songs – horses, crows (three species) and plants (he reports startlingly recent scientific discoveries about why leaves fall). Hunting horns, postal coaches; how they worked and what they signified. There are also theses, and asides, on dancing and its discontents in 1820s Vienna as well as the economic and social barriers to matrimony at the time. Our “hero” comes into ever-sharper focus.
It’s less that Bostridge tames or humanizes Winterreise – he draws comparisons with Mary Shelley’s chilly Frankenstein – than that he warms his reader to it. As he hears it, the music starts getting really weird in Der greise Kopf (“The Old Man’s Head”). Introducing that music, he writes: “We have all had that moment of catching ourselves unexpectedly in a mirror and seeing ourselves as others see us – older, fatter, thinner, distracted, dismayed, happy, sad, but, above all, Other. … The wanderer… sees himself as an old man, because the frost has turned his hair white.”
He gives pages to the songs’ first word, Fremd, “foreign”; “strange” leading to “stranger”; even “alien.” The wanderer is an outsider in the literal sense, thrown outside the house before the cycle’s first song, as well as the metaphorical one, barely orbiting the community of man by its last.
Only an uncommonly inquisitive singer would wonder why the poet, in Rast (“Rest”), specifies that that the wanderer finds refuge not in some generic hut but in “the cramped house of the charcoal burner, … the first addition to the ghostly dramatis personae of the poem since we met the girl’s family back in the second song.” … “The charcoal burner’s hut is the simplest dwelling imaginable: and, widely distributed in both time and space, across both continents and millennia, it is the very archetype of the prehistoric hut, in its most primitive form, which existed in unbroken tradition from the days of the Stone Age. … Be that as it may, during the 1820s, charcoal burning must be seen as a liminal activity: these men were living on a social and a historical boundary.
“Müller’s winter cycle, found by Schubert in a suspect publication [Taschenbuch Urania, which fell afoul of the censors], has an intensely radical context. … We can see now, for the first time, why [the charcoal burner]’s there, what he signifies. He’s not only an artisan plying his lonely trade, doomed by the harsh winds of socio-economic change, he’s also one of the Carbonari, literally ‘charcoal burners,’ the secret society whose black and red were feared by the Hapsburg regime and so much a part of the Italian landscape of the 1820s which Müller had obliquely celebrated.”
Bostridge sees the historical period of Winterreise (Schubert composed his music in 1827-28, a few years after Müller’s poems) as overshadowed by “a winter journey to end all winter journeys, Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow.” For readers who might not associate the word Biedermeier with anything but a style of antique furniture, he defines and characterizes it, explaining how the repressive Prince Metternich spawned an environment Schubert and his like-minded contemporaries found grinding. It was in this milieu, Bostridge notes, that Schubert became the first major composer to have worked, successfully, as a freelancer, without the safety net of church or court sponsorship.
The author describes not only the ravages of late-stage syphilis but also the horrors of its treatments at the time. But he depicts the diversions as well as the depredations of the day. James Fenimore Cooper and the brave new world his novels depicted were the rage, and Schubert devoured them with his customary appetite. Without painting the scene in pastels, Bostridge conjures the irony in a personal reflection: “Schubert reading The Last of the Mohicans on his deathbed, in the midst of correcting the proofs for Winterreise – this has always been a wonderfully human picture for me.”
All this would matter less if the author skirted the most difficult subject: the music. The closest he comes to losing the reader in technical matters is in his discussion of the “triplet assimilation” in the piano part of the song Wasserflut (“Flood”), but he defaults to disarmingly everyday language. After stating his own preference for the “stress disassociation and complexity … of the unassimilated version,” he clarifies, “weirdness, if you like.”
A typically acute perception – one he probably had to sing his way into – is about the third stanza of the antepenultimate song, Mut (“Courage”). On the printed page it looks much like the previous two stanzas – and in performance it often sounds just like them. (You don’t hear a noticeable “shift” in Bostridge’s 2004 studio recording.) But he now hears in it “the first intrusion into the cycle of notional real music, singing aloud rather than the internal, symbolic sounds that have emanated heretofore from the wanderer’s mind.” The wanderer, not just the onstage tenor, is singing out loud. It anticipates, breathtakingly, the appearance of the hurgy-gurdy man in the final song, when, Bostridge writes, “Now both we and the wanderer hear someone else’s music floating in the frozen air.”
If Winterreise is, in Bostridge’s words, “the first and greatest of concept albums,” that haunting final song, Der Leiermann (“The Hurdy-Gurdy Man”), is its hit single – the achingly simple, deranged and repetitive “big tune” savvy listeners anticipate. It closes the compact between composer, musicians and audience with desolate, gnarly music, usually followed by a sacrament of stunned silence. Commentators have wondered whether the hurdy-gurdy man is real or a hallucination. Bostridge makes his most vaulting speculation of all – one that made my neck hairs stand up – that the lowly organ-grinder just may have been along on this freezing winter walk from the start, not merely encountered at its end.
In performances of Winterreise, he writes, “We all, performers and audience, enter into an aesthetic compact according to which we challenge, for an hour or so, our basic assumptions and our way of living.” His book challenges our lazy ideas about Winterreise. Early on, writing of another Schubert song, to a poem by Goethe, Bostridge writes, “The sense of psychological depth achieved by such a rich and relentless undertaking – Schubert never lets go of the musical or poetic logic – is palpable, and it is difficult to go back to the poem without the music and not feel, somehow, robbed.” Returning to Winterreise without this book would feel the same.
2 di 2 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
5.0 su 5 stelle b 22 febbraio 2015
Di Paul Gelman - Pubblicato su
Formato: Copertina rigida Acquisto verificato
For the fans of Schubert, this beautifully crafted volume will definitely be a delight. Mr Bostridge discusses in great detail each song and gives a wide and explicit background about each of them. Schubert's life was short; he was ravaged by syphilis at the age of only thirty-one, yet his output was tremendous. The Winter Journey is just one set of his 600 songs composed durng his life. I especially liked the chapter on the Linden Tree, to which Mr Bostridge devotes many pages, extras included. As one who had the pleasure of walking and visiting many of Schubert's places where he composed his music in Vienna, I could only recall those wonderful experiences/places where Schubert worked and enjoyed together with his many friends. After having performed it at least 100 times, I can tell the readers that this written performance by Bostridge merits just one word:Bravissiomo,!

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