About Franz Schubert's Songs
It was with his songs that Schubert made his perhaps most indelible mark. In his more than six hundred lieder he explored and expanded the potentialities of the genre as no composer before him.
Schubert’s genius at finding the fullest possible expression for the deepest human emotions in his lieder is possibly his greatest accomplishment.
It’s telling that his first two published works were the striking treatments of the poetry of Goethe, Gretchen am Spinnrade and Erlkönig.
Already in these works, Schubert soars to heights never surpassed in the genre. At the most superficial level, both these songs are notable for their dramatic content, forward-looking uses of harmony, and their use of eloquent pictorial keyboard figurations, such as the depiction of the spinning wheel and treadle in the piano in Gretchen and the furious and ceaseless gallop the right hand in Erlkönig.