Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Der Schaufelmann

Spending 3-5 hours a day shoveling snow gives one lots of time to reflect. Inevitably, for me over the past week, those reflections turned to ways in which winter has been expressed through music, and though the likes of Vivaldi, Liszt, and Debussy have tried their hand at depicting the harshness of the season in sound, it occurred to me that no one really understood the loneliness of standing out in the freezing cold like Schubert. He wrote a whole song cycle about it. The poignant final song is supposedly about a pitiful hurdy-gurdy player standing out in the freezing cold and providing a nice metaphor for the poet's hopeless love life, but I felt a one-ness with the futility of the hurdy-gurdiest while tackling the white stuff these past fews days - and my time spent moving snow around (as the snow kept falling, and knowing the snowplows would come and push more back into my driveway) provided the mental time and framework for me to re-translate Wilhelm Müller's grim words for the common man. Here you go, winter.

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