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Author | Susan Youens
Publisher | Cambridge University Press
This guide to Schubert's much-loved song cycle explores both the music and the poetry from a variety of perspectives. It includes biography and cultural history, literary interpretation, source studies, and musical analysis. The genesis of both Wilhelm Müller's poetry, which began as a literary salon game in 1816, and the music, composed soon after Schubert discovered that he had contracted syphilis, is discussed in the first two chapters, which also include little-known information about the poet, the premier of the cycle, and Eduard Hanslick's critiques later in the nineteenth century. The chapters on the poetry discuss Müller's uneasy relationship to the tenets of Romanticism; the influence of Goethe, folk poems, and medieval poetry on Die schöne Mullerin; and provide a reading of each of the poems, which are reproduced in German and English translation. The last and lengthiest chapter consists of brief analytical commentary on each of the twenty songs in Schubert's masterpiece.