Franz Peter Schubert - Life and Music


Go to content

Franz Schubert - Miscellaneous Piano Works

Music > Piano Music

Adagio in G major, D. 178

In 1815, Schubert composed the Adagio in G major D. 178. Though there are two known versions of this work, the second is extant only as a fragment. The first version of 8 April 1815 was cast in a tripartite song form (A-B-A) and boasts not only interesting harmonics, but also pianistic brilliance provided by dazzling interjections which the Schubert biographer Alfred Einstein once called 'little virtuoso coquetries'.

2 Scherzos for piano, D. 593

Franz Schubert spent the spring and summer of 1817 composing piano sonatas and when autumn came and he discovered some residual thoughts for piano scherzos floating around his head, he simply put them down on paper as two self-standing scherzos and left it at that. In 1871, these two slender works found their way into print as the 2 Scherzos for piano, and Otto Erich Deutsch entered them in his complete Schubert catalog as D. 593. In both, Schubert adopts the usual three-section "da capo" plan of such pieces (ABA, the B section being known as the trio -- a holdover from the scherzo's days as the bastard child of the minuet). In addition, the music of the A section is itself broken up into two contrasting strains of music, the second of which digresses from and then returns to the melody and harmonies of the opening.

The first is an Allegretto in B flat that is surely among the most immediately disarming representatives of its species. Here the humor is not that of a headlong plunge into musical recklessness, as with so many Beethoven's scherzos, but rather that of mock-docility. During the second section of the scherzo-proper (as opposed to the trio section) Schubert makes a move to D flat major, but unravels this new key after about eight bars with a thread of spinning triplets that eventually run their way down into the deep bass register. The lovely piano-pianissimo melody of the E flat major trio portion dips and sways as though in a rocking chair.

The second is marked Allegro moderato and takes as its home key the D flat major hinted at during the previous piece. It is an altogether more outgoing piece of music, boisterously plodding forth on what sounds very much like an old German drinking tune, but still making room, at the end of each phrase, for the kind of sprightly staccato eighth notes that saturate the first Scherzo. In the subsidiary passage to the opening section, the pianist suddenly finds him- or herself up in E major; and the move back down to D flat is made in just as sudden and surprising a way. The A flat major trio, a bit of music also found in the scherzo of Schubert's E flat major Piano Sonata, D. 568, composed the same year, is filled with gentle dotted rhythms.

Andante in A major, D. 604

The Andante in A major D. 604, probably from 1817, has no indication of tempo in the manuscript, but is widely thought to belong to the Sonata in F sharp minor (D. 570/571). Scholars tend to support this view because of the key, which fits in seamlessly, and because it has come down to us without a date, signature or indication of the medium, something that usually occurs only in the middle movements of Schubert's sonatas. Since the tempo indication is also missing, the Andante marking follows a recommendation of the New Schubert Edition. It is a delicate piece and flows pleasantly in 6/8 metre. Interest is maintained by both melodic and rhythmic invention, and for much of the piece a constant flow of semiquavers (16th notes) produces a moto perpetuo effect.

Allegretto in C minor, D. 915

The Allegretto in C minor D. 915, fully in the mould of a Moment musicaux, was written in the album of Ferdinand Walcher on 26 April 1827, with the inscription 'To my dear a memento' on the occasion of Walcher's departure for Venice. It is an attractive piece in 6/8 time, with a particularly wistful Trio section - indeed, the whole piece breathes gentle nostalgia and is well suited to its purpose as a farewell gift.

Home | Biography | Music | Schuberts Circle | Letters | Site Map

Back to content | Back to main menu