Franz Schubert  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Franz Seraphicus Peter Schubert (January 31, 1797November 19, 1828) was an Austrian composer. He wrote some 600 Lieder, eight completed symphonies, the famous "Unfinished Symphony", liturgical music, operas, and a large body of chamber and solo piano music. He is particularly noted for his original melodic and harmonic writing.

Contents

Music

Style

Schubert composed music for a wide range of ensembles and in various genres including opera, liturgical music, chamber and solo piano music.

While he was clearly influenced by the Classical sonata forms of and Beethoven and Mozart (his early works, among them notably the 5th Symphony, are particularly Mozartean), his formal structures and his developments tend to give the impression more of melodic development than of harmonic drama. This combination of Classical form and long-breathed Romantic melody sometimes lends them a discursive style: his 9th Symphony was described by Robert Schumann as running to "heavenly lengths". His harmonic innovations include movements in which the first section ends in the key of the subdominant rather than the dominant (as in the last movement of the Trout Quintet). Schubert's practice here was a forerunner of the common Romantic technique of relaxing, rather than raising, tension in the middle of a movement, with final resolution postponed to the very end.

It was in the genre of the Lied, however, that Schubert made his most indelible mark. Plantinga remarks, "In his more than six hundred lieder he explored and expanded the potentialities of the genre as no composer before him." Prior to Schubert's influence, lieder tended toward a strophic, syllabic treatment of text, evoking the folksong qualities burgeoned by the stirrings of Romantic nationalism. Among Schubert's treatments of the poetry of Goethe, his settings of Gretchen am Spinnrade and Der Erlkönig are particularly striking 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. Also of particular note are his two song cycles on the poems of Wilhelm Müller, Die schöne Müllerin and Winterreise, and the collection Schwanengesang, all of which helped to establish the genre and its potential for musical, poetic, and dramatic narrative. In turn, Schubert's work in Lieder fostered interest in shorter and more lyrical instrumental works.Template:Fact

Schubert's compositional style progressed rapidly throughout his short life. The loss of potential masterpieces caused by his early death at 31 was perhaps best expressed in the epitaph on his tombstone written by the poet Franz Grillparzer, "Here music has buried a treasure, but even fairer hopes."

Posthumous history of Schubert's music

Some of his smaller pieces were printed shortly after his death, but the more valuable seem to have been regarded by the publishers as so much waste paper. In 1838 Robert Schumann, on a visit to Vienna, found the dusty manuscript of the C major symphony (the "Great", D.944) and took it back to Leipzig, where it was performed by Felix Mendelssohn and celebrated in the Neue Zeitschrift. There continues to be some controversy over the numbering of this symphony, with German-speaking scholars numbering it as symphony No. 7, the revised Deutsch catalogue (the standard catalogue of Schubert's works, compiled by Otto Erich Deutsch) listing it as No. 8, and English-speaking scholars listing it as No. 9.

Fifty of his songs were transcribed for piano by Franz Liszt, who declared Schubert to be "the most poetic musician who has ever lived".

The most important step towards the recovery of the neglected works was the journey to Vienna which Sir George Grove (of "Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians" fame) and Sir Arthur Sullivan made in the autumn of 1867. The travellers rescued from oblivion seven symphonies, the Rosamunde incidental music, some of the Masses and operas, some of the chamber works, and a vast quantity of miscellaneous pieces and songs. This led to more widespread public interest in Schubert's work.

Another controversy, which originated with Grove and Sullivan and continued for many years, surrounded the "lost" symphony. Immediately before Schubert's death, his friend Eduard von Bauernfeld recorded the existence of an additional symphony, dated 1828 (although this does not necessarily indicate the year of composition) named the "Letzte" or "Last" symphony. It has been more or less accepted by musicologists that the "Last" symphony refers to a sketch in D major (D.936A), identified by Ernst Hilmar in 1977, and which was realised by Brian Newbould as the Tenth Symphony.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Franz Schubert" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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