The Hurdy-Gurdy Man: The sting-in-the-tail of Müller’s ‘Die Winterreise’


The download comprises two MP4 files and two MP3 files of the new recordings in the respective languages and a 10-page PDF document presenting Chapman’s rationale and compositional method for addressing the issue of the missing sting-in-the-tail in Schubert’s Winterreise, along with full vocal scores of the re-composed song in both High-Voice and Low-Voice registers.

Franz Schubert’s setting with a re-composed accompaniment to the final verse by Brian Chapman.

Book Information


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Chapman’s thesis in this Hypothetical is that the final verse of Müller’s final poem in the Winterreise cycle contains a sting-in-the-tail when the depressed and suicidal protagonist suddenly turns from negative contemplation to positive action as he tentatively reaches out to the sad and lonely hurdy-gurdy man, thereby affording the hope of a last-minute reprieve through engagement with the redemptive, life-affirming task of helping others.  This sudden change in the poetic psychology is musically unremarked and undetectable in Schubert’s famous setting of this song.  Chapman has re-composed the accompaniment to the final verse by animating the prevailing static rhythm and re-introducing Schubert’s melody from the cycle’s opening song.  The resulting modified version of the whole song has been recorded by pianist Chapman and baritone Nathan Lay in both English and German.

Author information

Brian Chapman