Schubert – Die schöne Müllerin


Schubert’s early song cycle about a young journeyman meeting the daughter of a miller, falling in love with her, and then falling into more and more dispair as she rejects him and falls for a passing hunter in green. Journeyman, have you ever heard of that? I thought this was a medieval term, but it is still alive.

Barely a year ago I came back from a few days in Prague. Within Europe, we like to travel by train, and we had to change train in Berlin. Outside of the station, there were some Christmas stalls, where we chose to get one of those nice German sausages with bread. We had a glass of glühwein with it, because it was cold. While we were waiting, there were some strangely clothed guys standing in line. They looked like they were dressed up for some special occasion, so I asked what the occasion was.

They told me they were participating in an old tradition. They were travelling through Europe with nothing but their own skills. They were doing that for at least more than a year. Some of them did it for three years now. They were not looking poor or destitute, they were just looking like oddly dressed and experienced travellers. They called themselves journeymen. They were members of a kind of brotherhood, and they dressed in that way to be recognised as such. I never heard of this, and I was fascinated with the idea. History can be so close sometimes!

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