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This work is part of an on-going project in response to a Schubert song cycle - Winterreisse (Winter Journey) - a musical setting of poems by Wilhelm Müller.  

 

On first sight, this is a piece of 19th century gothic romanticism, powerfully written but difficult to ignore the almost gratuitous melodrama it evokes.  Then, as you unpack the music and the words, you discover another layer of meaning in the work, a reflection on the day-to-day experience of its creators.  They are responding to a world in turmoil - with the industrial revolution in full swing, Europe is on the precipice, the old political order in tatters, clinging on to power by all means possible.  200 years ago this led to events like the Peterloo Massacre and the suppression of any cultural expression that challenged the existing orthodoxy.  Artists, like the the proletariat, feared for their lives.  

 

Suppress something and it has to find a release, and in Winterreisse it appears as a dark reflection on a world where the future is uncertain and the pain of the recent past cannot be ignored.  But, it is not without hope.  

 

Romanticism cannot be taken on face value and its hidden meanings still have relevance today

 

© 2017 Mike Colechin

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