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Schubert - Piano Music

From the start, Franz Schubert (1797-1828) was an exceptionally prolific composer. At seventeen years of age, having already written several songs, piano pieces, string quartets, his first symphony and a three-act opera, he increased his creative pace even further: the huge output of 1814-15 includes 144 songs, among them Gretchen am Spinnrade and Erlkönig, two more symphonies, three masses and four stage works.
From this time he began to attract a large circle of friends, frequently gathering in homes or coffee-houses for evenings of Schubert´s music called Schubertiads: this gave Schubert an appreciative audience and influential contacts as well as the confidence to stop teaching, which he had been pressured to do by his father who was a schoolmaster.
He lived with one or other of his friends, the closest of whom were the poet Johann Mayrhofer and the law student Franz von Schober. Schubert also met at this time the barytone Michael Vogl, one of the outstanding opera singers of the day, who became the foremost interpreter of his songs, often accompanied by the composer. In 1821 Schubert’s music appeared in print for the first time, as his admirers issued issued 20 of his songs by private subscription. Schubert, an enthusiastic opera-goer since childhood, in the early 1820s worked on several stage projects such as the opera Alfonso und Estrella and incidental music to the play Rosamunde. The rejection of most of these works, financial strain and the beginning of serious health problems made this a dark period, which nevertheless yielded some of Schubert’s best works, such as the epic "Wanderer" Fantasy for piano, the two movement Eighth Symphony ("Unfinished"), and the exquisite Schöne Müllerin song cycle. Although appreciation remained limited, his reputation in Vienna was steadily growing (above all, his concerts with Vogl were renowned), and Schubert little by little entered a more assured phase. 1825 was something of a high point when the setbacks of previous years were compensated by relative prosperity and happiness. Unfortunately, over the next three years his fortune, his finances and his health would wane steadily, yet during this time he would produce an astonishing string of masterworks. In 1827 Schubert wrote among other works the song cycle Winterreise, the Fantasia for piano and violin in C, the Impromptus for piano, and the two piano trios; in 1828 the String Quintet in C, the last three piano sonatas, and the collection of songs published posthumously as Schwanengesang.

Major works:
Orchestral: 9 symphonies incl. no 8 "Unfinished" and no 9 "Great", several overtures incl. two "In the Italian Style"
Vocal: Operas incl. Rosamunde, Fierabras and Alfonso and Estrella, sacred compositions incl. Deutsche Messe. At least 600 songs with piano accompaniment, incl. Gretchen am Spinnrade, Erlkönig, Die Forelle and the song cycles Die Schöne Müllerin, Winterreise and Schwanengesang.
Chamber: 15 string quartets, String Quintet, Piano Quintet "Trout", Octet in F, Arpeggione Sonata, Fantasia for piano and violin, 2 piano trios
Piano: About 20 sonatas, Wanderer Fantasia, Moment Musicaux, Impromptus op 90 & op. 142, Drei Klavierstücke, many shorter pieces: ländler, walzes etc. A large number of pieces for piano duet, incl. Fantasy in f minor, Grand Duo in C, 3 Marches Militaires

"When I wished to sing of love, it turned to sorrow. And when I wished to sing of sorrow, it was transformed for me into love."

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Total pieces by Schubert: 115

Collections - Schubert
Schubert - Dances (39 pieces)
Schubert - Five Piano Pieces (D. 459) (5 pieces)
Schubert - Impromptus (8 pieces)
Schubert - Moments Musicaux (6 pieces)
Schubert - Sonatas (21 pieces)
Schubert - Songs (20 pieces)
Schubert - Three Piano Pieces (D. 946) (3 pieces)
Schubert - Variations (3 pieces)
Schubert - Miscellaneous Pieces (10 pieces)

Posts in the piano forum about Schubert:

xx Re: schubert
June 18, 2007, 04:30:26 PM by ramseytheii

Since you're asking about classification for school auditoins or competitions or whatever, Schubert would go squarely into the Classical category.  The reason is he wrote in Classical forms (even his Impromptus and other short pieces suggest sonata style), he died only a year after Beethoven, and his biggest influences were the Viennese Classicists: Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven.

For Romantic music, you have to go outside of Vienna and after 1830.  Schumann, Chopin, Liszt, Brahms, those kind of composers.

This is the limitations though of auditions, having to strictly categorize everything.  There is a much more interesting discussion that can be had on thsi topic, obviously.  For one thing, E.T.A. Hofmann, the music critic and Gothic-story author, was one of the first critics to group together Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, and called them "Romantic" composers, meaning composers whose music exhibited strongly contrasting emotions that could seduce the audience. 

Calling them that today, by our understanding of the terms, would be confusing, like the Republicans saying they are the party of Lincoln.  (After leaving the Whig party, he might have been a "Republican," but today's Republicans surely would not have denied the state right to slavery).

On the other hand, Schubert's music exhibits a freedom from a lot of the formal restraint that those three composers employed.  When I say restraint, I don't mean their music was restrained, but that they achieved innovation against a backdrop of familiarity.  Schubert often just put the torch to the wind; listen for instance to the last movement of his E-flat sonata.  The harmonies verge on incomprehensibility as far as their succession is concerned.  Schubert's contribution to formal innovation is slight, and for that reason he can be considered actually more forward-looking.

Walter Ramsey

xx Re: Next Schubert Piece
January 09, 2007, 12:13:04 AM by mikey6

Does it have to be an impromptu? why not tackle a sonata - the 'little' amaj is gorgeous.
There's always the 300 odd dance sets he wrote.
The 3 pieces d946 are impromptu's as well although on quite a large scale.

question Schubert Dotted Rhythm question
February 19, 2005, 02:44:16 PM by ehpianist

Ok, this is something I should know and I thought I did, until I came across this piece.

In notation, Schubert only wrote a dotted eighth with sixteenth, even when he meant triplet eighth dotted rhythms. I had always assumed that if he wrote a dotted eighth with a sixteenth while the other hand was doing triplets this should be performed within the triplet rhtyhm (the sixteenth note being played together with the last note of a triplet).  And when no triplets where around, it should be played as written.


I am now learning Schubert's Eight Variations on a French Theme in E minor, D.624 which makes me question the validity of such performance practice.  In the Secondo part, the final variation has two equal sections where, in both, the left hand is doing a repetitive accompanying written as a  dotted  eighth with sixteenth going to a quarter note, then again and again.  This is accompanied in the first section with continuous sixteenth notes in the right hand.  The second  section has the same left hand notation, same exact notes, but this time with triplets on the right.  Should I be modifying the rhythm to fit into the triplets? 

This final variation is a constant play between triplet eighths and sixteenths so I am at a loss as to what the correct performance practice would be and when to make a judgement of triplets or non-triplets when written as dotted eighths with sixteenths.  Would appreciate any leads to researchers who have figured this one out.


xx Did Beethoven and Schubert ever meet?
January 19, 2005, 06:17:17 PM by stormx

Hi !!

Recently, i have been listening to many Schubert piano pieces (interpreted by Schiff and Perahia), and i really like them !!  Smiley

As a result, i did a very little research in Internet about Schubert life...
Besides being surprised by his really early death (what a pitty for such a brilliant composer), i read that he lived in the same city as Beethoven, and at the same epoque.  Shocked Shocked

According to some article, Beethoven was a celebrity widely known, but Schubert was a much more obscure composer, only known by his inner friends circle.

Apparently, they did never meet (but this is arguable). Some even say that Beethoven was completely unaware of Schubert existence!! (the reverse being obviously false).
However, there is a version that Beethoven mentionned Schubert just before he died, but this seems to be just a rumour.

Do any of you know more about Beethoven and Schubert interaction (if any)?


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