Skip to main content

Distant Cycles

Schubert and the Conceiving of Song

Franz Schubert’s song cycles Schone Mullerin and Winterreise are cornerstones of the genre. But as Richard Kramer argues in this book, Schubert envisioned many other songs as components of cyclical arrangements that were never published as such. By carefully studying Schubert’s original manuscripts, Kramer recovers some of these "distant cycles" and accounts for idiosyncrasies in the songs which other analyses have failed to explain.

Returning the songs to their original keys, Kramer reveals linkages among songs which were often obscured as Schubert readied his compositions for publication. His analysis thus conveys even familiar songs in fresh contexts that will affect performance, interpretation, and criticism. After addressing problems of multiple settings and revisions, Kramer presents a series of briefs for the reconfiguring of sets of songs to poems by Goethe, Rellstab, and Heine. He deconstructs Winterreise, using its convoluted origins to illuminate its textual contradictions. Finally, Kramer scrutinizes settings from the Abendrote cycle (on poems by Friedrich Schlegel) for signs of cyclic process. Probing the farthest reaches of Schubert’s engagement with the poetics of lieder, Distant Cycles exposes tensions between Schubert the composer and Schubert the merchant-entrepreneur.

241 pages | 3 halftones, 80 musical examples, 4 tables | 6-5/8 x 9-3/8 | © 1994

Music: General Music

Table of Contents

I: Introduction
1: In Search of Song
II: Strophe, Variant, Version
2: Der Jungling am Bache: Schubert at the Source
3: The Aesthetics of Revision
III: Distant Cycles
4: A Poetics of the Remote: Goethe’s Entfernte
5: In der Ferne: Schubert’s Rellstab
6: Schubert’s Heine
IV: The Cycles in Winterreise
7: Winterreise I
8: Winterreise II
V: Mysticism, Ecstasy, and the Sublime
9: Schlegel’s Abendrote and the Failure of Cycle
List of Works Cited
Index of Names and Works


Amer Soc Composers/Authors/Publishers: Deems Taylor Award

American Musicological Society: Otto Kinkeldey Award

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press