From “This Song Changed the Course of Music” By Kile Smith (WRTI, “your classical and jazz source”):
It was 201 years ago that Franz Schubert (1797-1828) wrote a song that would alter the course of music history…. “Gretchen at the Spinning Wheel,” an unassuming title for Schubert’s first masterpiece and the start of an entire genre of music…
There had been songs before, of course. But art songs—in particular, German Lieder—were new. Not drawn from opera, they were self-contained concert dramas for voice and piano, setting poems steeped in romantic philosophy. They place the self-aware, if flawed, individual against nature or society, where it shines in all its glory—or despair.
"The most amazing thing is that a 17-year-old boy can somehow enter into the female pysche with such an incredible amount of understanding as if he himself had experienced such feelings," Johnson says. And those feelings explode with operatic intensity half-way through the song when Gretchen stops the spinning wheel cold and screams "Sein kuss!" (His kiss!).