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Monday, May 02, 2005
  Der Lindenbaum, Winterreise, D. 118
Franz Schubert
Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music, CD 9 Tracks 30-33

When he won his Pulitzer Prize, I think it was, Aaron Kernis remarked that it was a good thing composing worked out for him because he had no other skills (if memory serves, I read this in Strings Magazine, those few years ago). Things did not work out so well for Mr. Schubert and yet, while living the Bohemian life, he nonetheless understood his job as a composer and put in required hours. If poverty limited his creative effort at all it focused his talents on intimate, domestic music rather than music for large, expensive orchestras and opera companies. However, Franz's catalogue includes a fine collection music for orchestra and opera. And it appears his expertise in the small scale was a more a part of his creative world than a limitation. Mr. Schubert could probably have done well with more commercial success. At the very least, a longer life.

It is impressive that, while writing under the fiery shadow of Beethoven, Franz could contemplate a winter chill and linden tree. In this Winterreise one can hear a use of a sensitivity that would have been a model for our Promethiean Ludwig. That is a sensitivity towards the meanings of Major and minor chords that is particular to W. A. Mozart. Mr. Schubert understood Beethoven well enough to be inspired and not imitative. One wonders what it would have been like for Mr. Schubert to have lived more than a year past Beethoven's death.

In this ruminating song there is an upward triplet that stalls and falls in dotted rhythm (first heard at track 31). As this pattern repeats we are reminded that, for composers, there is no success and the only failure is quitting. 
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In January 2004 I starting writing an opinion for each selection in the Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music. Now, more than a year later, I am almost finished. Soon, I will have an archive full of opinions on the music we so carelessly call "classical." And no one can stop me.

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Director of the Contemporary Performer's Workshop... Music Teacher for St. Aloysius Gonzaga School... Principal 'Cellist of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra... Composer

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