He’s staged Schubert’s Winterreise in a replica lunatic asylum and now he’s headed to Perth to do it Weimar cabaret style.
Two things in Schubert’s life intersect around the time he found the Winterreisepoems in 1827. He’d been diagnosed with syphilis, probably in 1823, so there’s a feeling of being excluded and living outside the mainstream – always having to withdraw to be treated for this illness and feeling he couldn’t really join in. But then I think too it was a purely aesthetic project. It’s a very strong Romantic narrative, a very strong Romantic idea of the wanderer, wandering in a blank landscape and then unpeeling his personality to discover if there is a centre or if there is not a centre.
Winterreise, photo by Hugo Glendinning
According to his great friend Josef von Spaun, when Schubert performed it to his circle they didn’t like it. His friend Franz von Schober – the one everybody disapproved of because he was a bit naughty – said, “Oh, I only like Lindenbaum,” which is the song that has become most famous. I think we have to remember that, when we...