Der Leiermann, translated as “The Hurdy-Gurdy Player,” is the final song from Franz Schubert's song cycle Winterreise, a work that follows the protagonist as he visits sites of a past summer love in what is now the dead of winter. This song's text describes the lonely hurdy-gurdy player standing at the edge of the village, barefoot in the ice and attempting to play despite numb fingers, extreme hunger, and societal alienation, and the speaker wonders aloud if his sadness and loneliness might make them kindred spirits. Schubert's music includes droning modal figures designed to evoke the sounds of the hurdy-gurdy, overlaid with a sad, simple melody. This transcription for clarinet quartet rotates the melody through the ensemble, giving equal weight to each of its four members. The transcription was originally completed as part of a set of adaptations from Schubert's Lieder; when grouped with the other transcriptions in the set (Gretchen am Spinnrade, Die Forelle, and Mut) it functions well as the slow movement in a suite.
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