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Franz Schubert - Symphony No. 5 in B flat major, D. 485

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Schubert wrote the score of his Fifth symphony (D. 485) in September of 1816, completing it on October 3rd. Of Schubert's seven completed symphonies, this symphony, is the only one in a chamber setting, that is, without trumpets, timpani, or clarinets. Perhaps the smaller orchestration reflects the limited number of players available to Hatwig, but this explanation is not entirely satisfactory. Contrary to the popularized view of Franz Schubert, he was not a man to be influenced by such circumstances, Another view is that this symphony was meant to speak its musical message more directly than could a great 'public' symphony.

The symphony is in the key of B-flat minor and following an elegant and classical Allegro, a charming Andante seems to continue in the 18th century spirit. It opens as a straightforward song form, with a developing middle section in contrast to the outside statements. Schubert begins the return, but in a surprise move he then allows the listener a review of nearly the entire middle section, with its extended harmonic journey in search of the home key and theme. The straightforward but energetic and fast-paced Menuetto reminds us how far the character of this form had removed itself from its ancestor in the dance.

Schubert symphony no. 5

In keeping with the rest of the work, the Allegro vivace is completely classical in form and character; it requires an especially light presto treatment for which the old-style instruments are admireably suited. In the fall of 1816, Franz Schubert heard the first performance of his Fifth Symphony at the establishment of Otto Hatwig in Vienna's Schottenhof. A year and a half later Hatwig also conducted the Sixth Symphony at these concerts. Hatwig was a violinist in the Burgtheater Orchestra, composer, pianoteacher and conductor whose concerts had grown out of modest string evenings at the home of Schubert's father. It is doubtful that any of these first performances captured much of the important creative spirit in Schubert's music.

I. Allegro
II. Andante con moto
III. Menuetto. Allegro molto with Trio
IV. Allegro vivace

Listen to Schubert's 5th Symphony


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