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I've seen two performances of Schubert's Winterreise this year, both at a local music school of some note, and both used the title "Die Winterreise." Apple's new Classical app also calls it "Die Winterreise."

My understanding is, while the source poems were titled "Die Winterreise," Schubert called his song cycle "Winterreise." Certainly, no recording I've seen has the "Die" in the title.

But maybe there is some research or other academic contention about Schubert's intended name?

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  • Maybe the "research" in question was "look it up on Apple Classical to make sure we spell it correctly."
    – Theodore
    Apr 6, 2023 at 20:51
  • @Theodore Apple classical is new as of a few weeks ago - the concerts were in February and early March. One was a recital by a grad student specializing in period instruments - they played the accompaniment on a real pianoforte, and wrote extensive program notes. I was surprised to see what I thought was a glaring error right there on the front page. The other concert was performed by a professor of voice at the same music school, but I doubt he put together the program. When I've seen the error before, it has been by people without much Lieder knowledge. Apr 6, 2023 at 21:07
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    As a German native speaker I consider it a bit harsh to classify presence of an article as error, it could be easily be intended to mean Die "Winterreise".
    – guidot
    Apr 6, 2023 at 21:36
  • Well, if you walk around referring to "Star Wars" as "The 'Star Wars,'" people are going to comment. The title is the title. @guidot Also, unsure what the language has to do with it. Apr 6, 2023 at 21:41
  • An English speaker might reference "the Winterreise song cycle from Schubert" but there would be no reason to use the German article there, anymore than they'd replace "from" by the German equivalent. And all of these contexts are English speakers. @guidot Apr 6, 2023 at 22:36

2 Answers 2

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The proper name is Winterreise, no "Die". Schubert's hand-written manuscript demonstrates this.

Schubert hand-written title
(Image Source: IMSLP, holograph manuscript)

It's worth noting that the editions on IMSLP — two "collected works" and one "urtext" — plus IMSLP itself, all call it Winterreise.1

Other sources follow suit, such as Wikipedia, Oxford Lieder, and Britannica. A quick search of Google Scholar also consistently shows the piece referred to as Winterreise.


1. Note, however, that in the tables of contents of the IMSLP editions, there are references to

der "Winterreise."

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    Yeah, this is exactly my understanding, too, and I suspect this is the answer. I was just curious if there was a reason for it other than simply "error," that maybe there was a new movement sourcing other information. Will leave the question open for a bit, just to check for alternative understandings. Apr 6, 2023 at 20:14
  • @Aaron The der "Winterreise". thing is the same thing I’ve been talking about in my answer. Basically it is a colloquial reference to the entity of this song cycle, thus the use of the article. This is also reflected by the use of quotation marks, which exclude the article. On the same page you see references to der "schönen Müllerin". Here you can clearly see that this is a colloquialism, taking a part of the title as a substitute for the work, treating the whole thing like normal language. Formally correct would be Zwischen "Die schöne Müllerin" und "Winterreise".
    – Lazy
    Apr 7, 2023 at 8:26
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    @Lazy presumably, however, any reference to der "Winterreise" would be in the dative (i.e., direct object) or genitive (i.e., possessive) cases. Apr 7, 2023 at 17:35
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    @BenHocking Here the exact wording is Zwischen der "schönen Müllerin" und der "Winterreise" (between "schöne Müllerin" and "Winterreise"), so it it is dative case.
    – Lazy
    Apr 7, 2023 at 19:49
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The correct title of the cycle is in fact "Winterreise". In German "Die" would be the definite article. This is used colloquially to refer to this specific song cycle "Ich singe die Winterreise von Schubert", just like one would say "Heute spielen sie den Figaro".

Now, articles do occasionally appear in work titles, but it would be usual in this case to have a definite article. "Die Winterreise" does specify a rather specific "Winterreise", which would easily sound a bit weird as the title serves as description of the plot, not as a reference to some entity. What we’d see in these cases would rather be the indefinite article, i.e. "Eine Winterreise", e.g. like in Heine "Deutschland. Ein Wintermärchen" (even in this case we’d colloquially say "Das Wintermärchen von Heine", as in this case we are referencing the specific story).

In comparison the cycle "Die schöne Müllerin" uses a definite article because it references a specific entity of the story.

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