Franz Peter Schubert was among the first of the
Romantics, and the composer who, more than any other,
brought the art song (lied) to artistic maturity.
During his short but prolific career, he produced
masterpieces in nearly every genre, all characterized
by rich harmonies, an expansive treatment of classical
forms, and a seemingly endless gift for melody.
Schubert began his earliest musical training studying
with his father and brothers. Having passed an
audition, Schubert enrolled at the Convict school that
trained young vocalists to eventually sing at the
chapel of The Imperial Court. Schubert began to explore
composition and wrote a song that came to the attention
of the institution's director, Antonio Salieri, who
along with the school's professor of harmony, hailed
young Schubert as a genius. In 1813, after Schubert's
voice broke, he returned to live with his father, who
directed him to follow in his footsteps and become a
schoolteacher. Schubert begrudgingly complied and
worked miserably in that capacity by day, while
composing prolifically by night. He had written more
than 100 songs as well as numerous symphonic, operatic,
and chamber music scores, before he reached the age of
Winterreise (Winter Journey) is a song cycle for voice
and piano by Franz Schubert (D. 911, published as Op.
89 in 1828), a setting of 24 poems by Wilhelm Müller.
It is the second of Schubert's two great song cycles on
Müller's poems, the earlier being Die schöne Müllerin
(D. 795, Op. 25, 1823). Both were originally written
for tenor voice but are frequently transposed to suit
other vocal ranges - the precedent being established by
Schubert himself. These two works have posed
interpretative demands on listeners and performers due
to their scale and structural coherence. Although
Ludwig van Beethoven's cycle An die ferne Geliebte (To
the Distant Beloved) had been published earlier, in
1816, Schubert's two cycles hold the foremost place in
the history of the genre.
"Gute Nacht" (Good Night) recants that by moonlight, in
winter, the poet leaves the house as he came to it, a
stranger. The daughter has allowed their love to grow,
and the mother has encouraged the pair to think of
marriage: but the daughter's love has wandered to some
new sweetheart. So he quietly and secretly steals away
while they are sleeping, writing 'Good night' on her
door, and leaving the path of his footsteps in the
Although originally written for Voice (S) and Piano, I
created this arrangement for Viola & Piano.