Franz Peter Schubert (1797-1828) was one of the pre-eminent composers of the 19th century. Born in a suburb of Vienna, Austria, he was musically precocious, soon outstripping his teachers, and despite his short life, he was a greatly prolific composer, with his work crossing many genres including chamber music (The "Trout Quintet" being perhaps his most famous work), symphonies, and even opera.

But it is perhaps as a composer of song cycles that he is most widely known. "Winterreise" (technically there is no definite article) was first published in 1828, and was a setting of 24 poems by Wilhelm Mueller, who also wrote the texts for his other most famous song cycle, "Die Schoene Muellerin". Meaning "Winter Journey" it does not have a strict linear narrative structure, but follows the inner thoughts of the singer, and though it does include a couple of fairly cheerful songs, this winter journey is a melancholy one, ending in a strange encounter with a ghostly hurdy-gurdy man or "Leiermann".

Though originally composed for the tenor voice, it has now been sung by vocalists in every register, including such legendary performers as Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Peter Pears, and Christa Ludwig.

"Dichterliebe" is by Schumann, "Des Knaben Wunderhorn" by Mahler, and "An die Ferne Geliebte" by Beethoven.

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