Franz Schubert

With all of the changes that and taken place during the Classical Era and which were continuing to happen, composers of the early Romantic like Franz Schubert were beginning to emerge, “freelance” musicians who, while they often still worked for the church and the court, had another source of income and audience: the public. The Industrial Revolution and the call for universal education and the dignity of man (as can be seen in the Declaration of Independence) gave rise to the “middle class”, people who were not nobility or dignitaries but were laborers, people with trades, and businesses that wanted to have access to education and culture. The piano-forte became an outward symbol of culture and the goof life and thousands and thousands of pieces were written for it because of the high demand. How-to books were published and sold at high volumes. There was a spirit of creativity and optimism into which Schubert was born.

Franz Schubert (1797 – 1828) is often called the “youngest of the great composers”. While many composers lived and worked for many years in Vienna, Austria, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms to name a few, Schubert was one of the few who was a Vienna native. He grew up in a small, crowded house located in the city, the son of a poor schoolmaster. His father was his first teacher. At age eleven he was admitted into the imperial chapel choir as a boy soprano. He played violin in his school orchestra for which he wrote his first symphony and later became a theory student of Salieri. Vienna, like many of the large cities of the time, had a large opera house which Schubert frequently attended. He wrote his first opera in 1814. It is clear that music was always an important part of Schubert’s education and growing up in Vienna he was exposed to one of the most musical environments in the world.

On Octover 19, 1814 something happened that was to influence the rest of Schubert’s life. He set Goerte’s poem Gretchen am Spinnrade to music and that sparked and enormous amount of inspiration. He was to go on to write over 600 songs in addition to his nine symphonies, masses, many solo piano pieces, and chamber music. These songs, called Lied, were not songs about Greek or Roman mythology, they were poems written in German by poets of his time, notably Goerte and Schiller, and poems written by his friends, sung for the first time by his friends, and performed for his friends. They were writing music and art based of their own experiences, their discussions, and their own ideas. Friends, fellow artists, and admirers of Schubert’s music would meet with or without the composer at informal musical and social gatherings which came to be known as Schubertiads. It was a vibrant cultural scene, one that fostered and encouraged the creation of new art which spoke directly to the time.


Schubert’s “Sonatine”, Op. 137, No. 3, also known as “Violin Sonata in G minor”, D.408, is a fine example of Schubert’s expressive and highly varied instrumental style. Like many composers before him, Schuberts employs the same musical means to convey emotion in his instrumental music as he does in his vocal works, though colorful yet logical harmonic and melodic progressions and phrases and rhythmic contrasts. Schubert is definitely a Romantic composer in the subjects that he treats and the often unbridled emotion of his music, but he also balances this with the logical and graceful manner of writing often found in the Classical compositions of Haydn and Mozart. I would say that this quote by Leo Treitler, in his introduction to the chapter “The Late Eighteenth Century” of the 1978 edition of “Strunk’s Source Readings in Music History” (pg. 738 – 9) could refer to Schubert’s D. 408, “Rather than a prefabricated vessel filled with striking musical ideas (a description more appropriate to Romantic sonata form), a movement of a musical work was to these teachers a canny manipulation of these musical lengths or phrases, conceived in rhetoric, as it were, and generated in dance”. I would say in this case, “generated in song” because you could easily imagine this piece having a story or lyrics. It has so many striking contrasts and abrupt emotional shifts, that one could easily imagine being at a Schubertiad and listening to all of the conversations taking place amongst a wide range of characters.

Published on Jan 11, 2013

2012 ©
Франц Шуберт Сонатина соль-минор, опус 137, №3
Евдокия Ионина – скрипка
Любовь Громогласова – фортепиано
Большой зал Всероссийской Государственной библиотеки иностранной литературы, 28 ноября 2012
I. Allegro giusto 00:02
II. Andante 03:47
III. Menuetto: Allegro vivace 06:58
IV. Allegro moderato 09:10


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