“Summer with Schubert” Continues on Classical 101
Last Thursday evening on Symphony @ 7 we began our series of all the symphonies of the great Early-Romantic Austrian composer Franz Schubert as part of our “Summer with Schubert” presentation. Each Thursday, we’ll have one of his symphonies as we make our way through them all, concluding with the recent reconstruction of a projected Tenth Symphony he never lived to complete.
Why Schubert for a summer series? Why not? This immensely gifted and creative composer had the relative misfortune to live in Vienna at the same time as Beethoven and yet, he also achieved musical immortality. In his short life of 31 years, Schubert produced an impressively large body of work, including over 600 lieder, for which he was most appreciated in his own lifetime; his melodic gift equals any other composer’s and surpasses many.
That gift is also apparent in the many other compositions he wrote in different forms, whether solo piano pieces, including large sonatas, string quartets, the great Quintet in C, other chamber works, operatic works and of course, symphonies. The only genre popular at the time that’s missing seems to be concertos. But who should complain when he wrote so many works of such high quality in relative obscurity?
Schubert’s symphonies didn’t get much opportunity for public performances during his lifetime, and living in Vienna in the shadow of Beethoven didn’t help. Yet his wonderful melodic gift and creativity are on full display in these works as well. The early symphonies, written in his teens show the influence of the composers he admired, Haydn, Mozart, and of course, his older contemporary, Beethoven. We’re probably most familiar with the Unfinished Symphony (No.8) and No. 9, The Great C Major Symphony, and maybe the sunny No. 5 in B flat major. But the earlier works also show hints of the typical Schubertian qualities we love in the late works and are certainly worth the time we spend enjoying listening to them.
During our earlier daytime hours on Classical 101, you’ll hear perhaps a bit more Schubert than usual, but each Thursday evening on Symphony @ 7 for the rest of July and August, we’ll have one of his wonderful symphonies for your enjoyment. I hope you can join me. This evening the featured work is Symphony No. 2 in Bb, written when he was just 17.