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date: 04 December 2020

Abstract and Keywords

At a lecture in 1984 about the figure of the alienated Fremdling in Schubert’s Winterreise song cycle, I understood more clearly than ever before why Franz Schubert was the composer with whom I had most identified as I struggled with my own homosexuality. In a flash, the term Fremdling came to identify a figure who haunted not only Schubert’s songs, but also much of his instrumental music—a queer, existentially imperiled figure whose expressions of tenderness were so often overshadowed by ominous or disquieting musical elements. Frederic Chopin is another composer whose music has strongly resonated with my own experience of sexual and affective dysphoria, not only in the longer pieces, in which the promise of emotional fulfillment is either denied or ambiguous, but also in the melancholy nostalgia of many of the shorter pieces, especially in those with ambiguously evocative, duetlike textures.

Keywords: Fremdling, endangered tenderness, dysphoria, Schubert, Chopin

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