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Schubert: Winterreise, “The Linden Tree”

Can you guess this piece? Here’s a hint: come inside and warm up!

In Schubert’s beautiful song, the speaker stands under a Linden tree in the dead of winter, remembering a lost time when the leaves of the tree were green, the wind was warmer, and his love life was considerably less rocky than at present. The stark musical shifts from verse to verse bring this act of memory to life, almost as if the poem was written for music. This is not so very farfetched, however. The poet, Wilhelm Müller, was an amateur musician and often wrote poetry with music in mind. He once stated that, until his poems were set, they only “lived a half-life.” Originally, Müller published several of the “Winterreise” poems separately, but in 1824 he published them as a single volume, dedicated to his friend, composer Carl Maria von Weber.

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