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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 Messenger of a Faithful Heart’

‘The Messenger of a Faithful Heart’

Reassessing the Role of ‘Die Taubenpost’ in Schubert’s Schwanengesang

(p.404) 19 ‘The Messenger of a Faithful Heart’
Rethinking Schubert

Richard Giarusso

Oxford University Press

Many question the integrity of Schwanengesang as a ‘cycle,’ and the place of ‘Die Taubenpost’ in the set still generates heated debate. Performers and critics often dismiss the song as a trifling successor to the weighty Heine settings, and one observer has suggested that ‘its place, if it has one, in performances of Schwanengesang is as an encore’. Much of Schubert’s biography in 1828 and our understanding of his ‘late’ style has been disproportionately colored by Winterreise and by the Heine songs in Schwanengesang. Yet, inasmuch as Schwanengesang lives up to its name, ‘Die Taubenpost’ is the only song in the set that truly represents the ‘last blossom’ of Schubert’s talent. Far from being a trivial coda to the brooding Heine songs, ‘Die Taubenpost’ embodies the quintessence of Schubert’s late style, answering the bleakness of ‘Der Doppelgänger’ with a cautious yet resilient optimism that is echoed in so many of the last works.

Keywords:   reception history, late style, text setting, biography, Schwanengesang, ‘Die Taubenpost’

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