Returning Cycles

Charles Fisk

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 2001 | ISBN: 9780520225640
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520925786 | DOI:
Returning Cycles

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This investigation of the later music of Franz Schubert explores the rich terrain of his impromptus and last piano sonatas. Drawing on the relationships between these pieces and Schubert's Winterreise song cycle, his earlier Der Wanderer, the closely related Unfinished Symphony, and his story of exile and homecoming, My Dream, the author explains how Schubert's view of his own life may well have shaped his music in the years shortly before his death. This intimate portrayal of Schubert is based on evidence from the composer's own hand, both verbal (song texts and his written words) and musical (vocal and instrumental). Noting extraordinary aspects of tonality, structure, and gestural content, the book argues that, through his music, Schubert sought to alleviate his apparent sense of exile and his anticipation of early death. The author supports this view through close analyses of the cyclic connections within and between the works he explores, finding in them complex musical narratives that attempt to come to terms with mortality, alienation, hope, and desire. His knowledge of Schubert's life and music, together with his attention to musical detail, helps him capture and verbalize the human content of instrumental music.

Keywords: Winterreise; Der Wanderer; Unfinished Symphony; My Dream; song texts; gestural content; early death

Book.  319 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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Table of Contents

Prologue in Returning Cycles


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