My passion is to help others in the community, young, old, and everyone in between, find relevance and joy in learning, performing or listening to classical music.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Waiting for death: "Das Wirtshaus (The Inn)"

"Das Wirtshaus."

This song leaves me speechless, especially when it follows on the heels of the previous song, "Der Wegweiser (The Signpost)."

Both songs have this affect on me because they make the process of dying a tangible, palpable experience. Along with the songs that are yet to come in the cycle, they encompass so many different stages of death; they put into words and music the wide array of raw emotion that I imagine one might feel when approaching one's end. In "Der Wegweiser" I walk alongside our friend as he begins to accept his fate and as he consciously steps onto that final path. In "Das Wirtshaus," I actually feel the weight of this tired soul as he leans against me for support, his exhaustion clearly sapping away what the life he has left. But in this song, I am also overcome with a feeling of great peace. In his poem, Müller turns a graveyard into a place of rest and through his music, Schubert fills this sacred space with music that could soothe any soul. It is the sound of an organ, the sound of voices singing, the sound of music that stops time, that gives us this gift of peace.

Yet this is not the end. We can hear the agony that comes with waiting for death at the end of this song through the harmonies that Schubert uses.  With just a few well chosen notes, the music is able to manipulate my emotions, causing me to step into our traveler's well-worn boots to experience this process that is so difficult to put into words.  

I could write more but I don't want to. I really just want you to listen to the music. I believe it speaks for itself.

Click here to read the text of the poem.

And here is Ian and Julian with their performance.

Other posts in this Winterreise series:

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