From the time that Wilhem Müller compiled his poem cycle “Die schöne Müllerin” (“The fair Miller Maid”) there was a musical quality to the verses that was in part due to the fact that the cycle began as a parlor game of a group of artist friends who would elaborate upon the story of a finicky milkmaid and her would-be suitors in improvised verse and song. A composer member of the group even persuaded Müller to fashion a complete cycle of the poems, combining what had been separate roles into a single storyteller, that of the miller. Those songs, composed by Ludwig Berger, are long forgotten but a second attempt to set the same poem cycle to music by Franz Shubert forever transformed the art of the lieder, or the German art song. Schubert took individual songs and wove them into a grand tapestry that was virtually operatic in scope and dramatic impact yet introspective and soul-searching. Ravinia will be the destination of choice this week for Schubert lovers, as baritone Matthias Goerne, protégé of legendary lieder singer Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and of former Ravinia music director Christoph Eschenbach, will join with Eschenbach as pianist in a rare three-recital presentation of Schubert’s three magnificent song cycles. Although the duo is presenting this extraordinary triptych in London and Austria, Ravinia is the only venue hosting these extraordinary recitals in the United States. (Dennis Polkow)
July 27, Ravinia Festival’s Martin Theatre, Lake-Cook & Green Bay Roads, Highland Park, (847)266-5000. 8pm. $10-$40.
Author: Dennis Polkow
Dennis Polkow is an award-winning veteran journalist, critic, author, broadcaster and educator. He made his stage debut at age five, was a child art prodigy and began playing keyboards in clubs at the age of fourteen. He holds degrees in music theory, composition, religious studies and philosophy from DePaul University in Chicago. Polkow spent his early years performing and recording in rock and jazz bands while concertizing as a classical pianist, organist and harpsichordist and composing, arranging and producing for other artists. As a scholar, Polkow has published and lectured extensively and taught at several colleges and universities in various departments. As an actor, narrator and consultant, Polkow has been involved with numerous films, plays, broadcasts and documentaries. As a journalist, Polkow helped co-create the experiential Chicago Musicale and Spotlight, the award-winning tabloid arts and entertainment section of the Press Publications chain of newspapers, which he later edited. He also created and ran the nationally recognized journalism program at Oakton College and was faculty advisor to its award-winning student newspaper; many former students went on to major media careers, including Channel Awesome’s the Nostalgia Critic. Polkow’s research, interviews, features, reviews and commentaries have appeared across national and international media and he has corresponded from the Middle East, Asia and Africa for the Chicago Tribune. Contact: email@example.com