Composer Study: Schubert

CLS Shubert Audio.jpg

General Characteristics of the Romantic Period:

  • A new interest in nature

  • Fascination with the past, and stories from an ancient time

  • Interest in personal feelings

  • Interest in the infinite and spiritual experiences

  • Concerts were more and more for ordinary people, not just aristocrats

Characteristics of Romantic Period Music:

  • Use of more dynamics

  • Emotions changed within one movement or piece

  • Music was often “programmatic” or telling a story

  • New ideas and experiments in harmony and colors

  • Instruments were changing and more were being invented, so orchestras got larger too


Recommended Listening

Piano Music

Impromptu Op. 90, No. 4 (D.899) in A flat Major (played on a replica of the piano that Schubert would have played)

The same piece as above, but played on a modern piano by one of the world’s greatest pianists, Arthur Rubinstein

Impromptu in A flat Major (D.953) (played on a replica of a fortepiano)

Moment Musical Op. 94 (D.780) No. 3 in F minor

Lieder (Songs)

“Gretchen am Spinnrade” (Gretchen at the spinning wheel)

“Die Forelle” (The Trout)

“Ave Maria”

Chamber Music

Piano Quintet in A Major (D.667) “The Trout” – Here is a recording of just the final movement, a set of variations based on the same theme as the song “Die Forelle,” played by some of the most famous musicians of all time.

String Quintet in C Major, Op. 163 (D.956) Schubert wrote this music for string quartet with a second cello added. This recording features Yo Yo Ma as one of the cellists

Symphonic Music

Symphony No. 8 in B minor “Unfinished” played by the Vienna Philharmonic

‘Kyrie’ from Mass No. 6 in E flat (D. 950) – This is the first movement from the Mass. The words are in Latin, and the translation is “Lord, have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy”

Recommended Reading

Early Elementary

A Little Schubert
By M. B. Goffstein

This looks like a very sweet book for children, but the description says it includes a record, so you might not be able to play it unless you have a record player. Still, a paperback copy would be worth it just for the story.

Middle Grades

High School and Adults

Life & Works - Franz Schubert
By Jeremy Siepmann

This is a 4 hour, 30-minute audiobook with many examples of Schubert’s music throughout. It may contain mature themes.