Poetry in Music
Franz Schubert (1797-1828) was an Austrian composer who enriched the world of music through its originality, melody and unique harmony,
marking a fundamental transition between classicism and romanticism. His poetic language fed each of his compositions, and the extent of his contribution to music is priceless. In only seventeen years, he composed over six hundred songs, thirteen symphonies, nine operas, over thirty piano sonatas and more (more than 600 works by the age of twenty!). Schubert is best known for his lieder (the plural form of the German word Lied). This type of composition combines three elements: voice, piano (or orchestra) and text. The most recurrent themes of Schubert’s Lieder are love, grief, difficult human condition and nature. In this sense, the most famous song of Schubert is Die Forelle (The Trout), a work in which the role of the piano goes well beyond a simple accompaniment. This instrument is an essential element that allows the composer to produce a work full of poetry, charm and appeal.
The piano also allowed Schubert to expand his creative horizons
by mixing delicately the most complex techniques with a poetic language next to none. His most famous sonatas for piano include the Sonata No. 1 in E major, D. 15, the Sonata No 6 in E minor, D. 566 and the Sonata No. 17 in D major, D. 850 (Op. 53). Schubert’s sonatas are treasured works that pay homage to the Viennese Classicism through a personal language that is subtle and poetic. Some parts remind us of Beethoven, such as the G Major Sonata. It is interesting to look in particular at some of these compositions, each with a defined character. Sonata No.13 in A major, for example, has three movements (Allegro moderato, Andante Finale - Allegro), while the later sonatas of Schubert had four. The theme remains serene and benevolent, although some passages appear troubled. The Sonata in D major nº17 has a tone much brighter: the whole work has a conquering joy and infectious energy. This composition is organised around four movements: Allegro vivace in D major, Con moto in A major, Scherzo: Allegro vivace in D major and Rondo: Allegro moderato in D major. As for the Sonata No. 21 in B flat major, this is the last of Schubert sonatas, completed in 1828. It was also written around four movements and thus follows a more conventional structure. This work nevertheless brings colour and poetic games so intense that it has travelled through time and it still represents one of the landmarks of the piano sonatas.
Furthermore, Schubert also performed other memorable piano pieces, such as Fantasy in C major or "Wanderer Fantasy" for piano, D. 760 (Op. 15),
Six moments musicaux, D. 780 (Op. 14) or Three marches militaires, D. 733 (1818). The Fantasy in C major "Wanderer Fantasy" (1822) is a fantasia for the piano with a traditional four movements structure (allegro, adagio, presto and final). This work is also related to the sonata, although stricter in form. It is considered the most demanding composition of Schubert at a technical level. Fermatas are used to allow the succession of four movements. As for the Moments Musicaux, it's six piano pieces from the late creative period of the composer: Moderato in C major, Andantino in A flat major, Allegro Moderato (Russian Air) in F minor, Moderato in C sharp minor Allegro vivace in F minor and Allegretto (Plainte d'un troubadour) in A flat major. About twenty-five minutes are needed to interpret these six, rich in emotions, pieces.
Schubert died two months after having composed the Sonata No. 21 in B flat major. After a few weeks of illness, he took his last breath at the age of 31 years old. Firstly, he was buried in the cemetery of Währing before being transferred to the square of the musicians in the cemetery of Vienna, with great artists such as Gluck, Beethoven and Hugo Wolf.