Monday, July 13, 2009


Just because I had an interesting walk where I discovered that I live mere blocks away from a cornfield, I have been inspired to give you another post to show off a little diversity on this blog's first day of existence. This post will be dedicated to Franz Schubert's Quartettsatz in C minor. It was originally written to be the first movement of a full string quartet - however, that planned work was abandoned partway through him writing the next movement, so instead we are left with this very agitated sounding work that shows a lot of the energy that a good composer can get out of such a small ensemble. It's name, to the best of my understanding of German, simply means "quartet movement."
While Schubert is much more famous for another unfinished work, his Eighth symphony, this was written earlier, and was not written with the emotional burden that his later works had - namely, his protracted death from syphilis. However, like a lot of his other works, this one was left unperformed in his lifetime, only being published in 1870 (he died in 1828). While I don't know who discovered it, chances are it was in the same huge pile of manuscripts at his brother's house that Robert Schumann stumbled onto years later, that led to Schubert's all but nonexistant reputation being revived to that of one of the greatest masters.
In an interesting link to the previous generation, Schubert was actually a longtime student of Antonio Salieri (the dude who killed Mozart in Amadeus, although that story is made up). The romantic notion of Schubert's life has always been that he was an uneducated peasant who just kind of luck into being able to write some amazing music, really that was not true at all, he maybe was not as extensively trained as some, but he spent time learning from a respected authority, and even had a lot of his works published during his lifetime, so while he did die poor, he wasn't quite as unrecognized as, say, Van Gogh.
The video recording I have found was by the Amadeus Quartet at the Aldeburgh festival (founded by Benjamin Britten) in 1977, and while in some places the audio quality suffers from increased dynamics, on the whole it is a decent recording. My personal collection has this work recorded by the Belcea Quartet (it is D. 703, the Deutsch Catalog being the Schubert equivalent to the Kochel number).
I hope you enjoy!

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