Many composers of the Classical
and Romantic eras wrote intensely personal music, but few wrote music so
endearingly human as Franz Schubert. With Schubert it is as if we were standing
at his shoulder, watching him at work and sharing his innermost thoughts as a
composer. Short, chubby and bespectacled, Schubert may have lacked glamour, but
his musical talents were much respected and his warm friendly nature made him
loved by all who knew him. The playwright Eduard von Bauernfeld, a close friend,
remembered him as “the most honest soul and the most faithful friend”. In his
short lifetime Schubert produced masterworks in many genres and established
himself as one of the greatest song writers in musical history.
for piano solo derive historically from a tradition which had its origin in the
Viennese classicists. Both Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven in addition to lesser
known composers such as Kozeluch, Hummel and others had provided dances for
court balls as well as for those balls that the court opened to “the people” in
official halls during Carnivals and, later, for balls held by impresarios in
halls to which admission had to be paid for.
These dances were played by small orchestras, but were in general published in a
version for piano solo that later got rearranged by the individual groups
performing in the dance halls, just as nowadays the songs are published in a
summarized version. If this is the historical origin of Schubert’s dances,
although he, however, did not write for public dance halls but almost
exclusively for parties of friends or on commission by publishers, Schubert’s
collections represent an important moment of transition from the classic to the
romantic forms, from the monolithic block of the sonata to the polyphony of
Schubert tends to have organized his collection in cycles. We can therefore
distinguish three different periods in Schubert’s activity.
1812 –1815: first collections, particularly minuets, still traditional in
1816-1823: progressive experiments in formal organization reaching their peaks
in opuses 33, 50 and 171. With opus 171 a new phase seems to be opening which,
however, was not continued.
1824-1828: some single dances and few cycles, perfectly organized but in a way
which is less novel and less rich in future development than was the case for
the cycles of 1823. Piero Rattalino.