Late in the short life of Franz Schubert, he composed one of his best known works, a song cycle for voice and piano entitled “Winterreise.” Schubert was in a deeply melancholic frame of mind. As a friend described it, “life had lost its rosiness and winter was upon him.” When asked the reason for this gloom, Schubert replied, “I will play you a cycle of terrifying songs; they have affected me more than has ever been the case with any other songs.” He then, with a voice full of feeling, sang the entire Winterreise. His attending friends were dumfounded by the somber mood, and one friend remarked that only one song had pleased him. Schubert leaped up and replied, “these songs please me more than all the rest, and in time they will please you as well.”
One of the most important friends I will have in this life killed himself a few months ago. This collection is my Winterreise. I won’t say that the songs please me, but they do move me deeply, and more, they free me. If you have known great loss, it is my hope that they will move you too.