Das Wandern is the first song in Schubert's song cycle Die Schöne Müllerin D.795, composed by him in 1823 to Wilhelm Müller's text.
The poem itself consists of five verses, each with a refrain whose music repeats over a different set of words. Verse One introduces the miller, who throughout the song cycle narrates the story in the first person. He is a young man, probably a journeyman, as it is necessary for him to request permission from his master to go out wandering. His master here would be a master miller, therefore in the sense of a craftmaster and so we are in the apprentice/journeyman/craftmaster system.
The title of the song means (very roughly) "To Wander"; essentially the young miller has been inspired by the constant movement of the mill wheel, water and even the stones in the stream around him to go out wandering.
The sense of movement in the song comes not only from the words in the poem, but also the constant rippling piano arpeggios in the accompaniment. We will hear this throughout the cycle and there are very few moments of stillness.
The feeling in this song is fairly upbeat; the key of the song is B flat major (keys are always an important contributory factor to the mood and style of any piece of Schubert) and the young miller is looking forward to his adventure. There is no hint of the tragedy to come.
Das Wandern is sometimes sung on its own, but it is most usually sung as part of the Die Schöne Müllerin song cycle. There are, of course, many different recordings of it but the disc Schubert: Die Schöne Müllerin, 3 Lieder / Fritz Wunderlich is an absolute delight. Fritz Wunderlich died very suddenly in 1966 when his voice was at its height. The recordings which remain of him singing are well worth obtaining, and this one, although not as dramatic in style as some Schöne Müllerins, is exquisite in its detail and in the care of production of emotional intensity.
Readers might also enjoy the recordings Schubert: The Song Cycles by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau with Gerald Moore accompanying. This collection includes both Die Schöne Müllerin and Winterreise as well as the collection of songs entitled Schwanengesang, making it very good value for money. Fischer-Dieskau and Moore's recordings are considered to be amongst the great performances of the last century, well worth having on your shelves.
Both of the above CD's are in the author's personal collection, purchased with her own money.