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Rethinking Schubert$
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Lorraine Byrne Bodley and Julian Horton

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190200107

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190200107.001.0001

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The End of the Road in Schubert’s Winterreise

The End of the Road in Schubert’s Winterreise

The Contradiction of Coherence and Fragmentation

(p.355) 17 The End of the Road in Schubert’s Winterreise
Rethinking Schubert

Deborah Stein

Oxford University Press

Schubert’s Winterreise has undergone tremendous scrutiny for many years, and yet two issues remain unresolved: first, where is the climax of the cycle; and second, what is the fate of the wanderer? To some, the cycle climaxes in the final song, ‘Der Leiermann’, where the wanderer succumbs to madness; to others, the cycle culminates in ‘Der Wegweiser’, where the weary wanderer embraces death. While I agree that ‘Der Wegweiser’ is the cycle’s climax, I propose a third option for the wanderer’s fate: that the signpost points away from his struggle and torment and towards uncharted territory, suggtesting that, in fact, the cycle never really comes to an end. My interpretation of the cycle’s irresolution focuses upon the extraordinary chromaticism of ‘Der Wegweiser’ and the German Romantic concept of the fragment, which champions incompletion and irresolution.

Keywords:   Schubert’s late song cycles, romantic ‘fragment’, ‘Der Wegweiser’, harmony, ‘Der Leiermann’Incompletion

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