Winterreise (Winter Journey, 1827) is, yet again, a work by Franz Schubert (1797-1828), with whom Mignon is closely associated. The song cycle is based on poems by Wilhem Muller (1794-1827) and was originally written for a tenor voice, but has often been adapted for other vocal ranges. The work is unremittingly melancholy and represent Schubert's final burst of creativity as his health deteriorated due to typhoid fever and possibly syphilis.
The song cycle tells of a young man whose lover has forsaken him for another. He walks away weeping into the snow, seeking memories of their walks together in the sunshine, until he is lured off the path and rests for a while in a charcoal burner's hut. There he dreams again of springtime, and wakes again to continue his sorrowful wanderings, contemplating death. Unable to find a room at the inn, he musters his courage until he meets an organ grinder by the roadside. The last of 24 songs, Der Leiermann (The Hurdy Gurdy Man) sees the young lover joining the starving, barefoot musician, although nobody pays him any attention except for the growling dogs. The embedded music is of the final three songs of the cycle, with Der Leiermann beginning at 4:40; soprano versions, as the Princess points out, are fairly difficult to find.