Thursday, January 17, 2013

Schubert - Symphony No. 5 In B-flat Major

Schubert began his life as a composer at an early age. By the time he was 19 he had written this 5th symphony and many other works. Schubert's affinity for orchestral writing no doubt came from his experience in the school for musicians he attended. He played viola in the school orchestra and may have conducted also. The school orchestra played many works by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, and the young Schubert absorbed the influences of these composers so quickly that he had a very good understanding of classical form.

Schubert's love for the music of Mozart is apparent in this symphony. He composed this symphony almost like chamber music, as the style of the music and the orchestration has a Mozartean lightness. The 5th symphony is unique from the rest of Schubert's because there are no clarinets, trumpets or timpani in the score, and only one flute.  The symphony was composed in 1816, the same year as his Symphony No.4. The contrasts between the two symphonies are striking. The 5th shows Schubert's progress in his mastery of orchestral writing.

The life of Franz Schubert was one of the marvels of human creativity and industriousness, a man who died when he was 31 years old and whose compositions number 998 according to Otto Erich Deutsch, the musicologist that created a catalog of Schubert's works listed chronologically by composition date. His influence on later musicians such as Liszt, Schumann, and Bruckner was profound.  He has been called by some one of the composers that began the Romantic age of classical music.

Besides some of his songs, much of Schubert's music was not performed in his lifetime. Among his 9 symphonies, the 5th was the only symphony performed in his lifetime at a private concert in 1817.

Symphony No. 5 is in the traditional 4 movements:

I. Allegro - Unlike Schubert's previous four symphonies, the 5th doesn't begin with a slow introduction, but with the beginning of the first subject.  The movement is in sonata form.
II. Andante - A movement that reflects the style of Mozart while retaining Schubert's lyrical style.
III. Menuetto Allegro molto - This movement also resembles Mozart's 'peasant stomp' minuets and could be called a scherzo.
IV.Allegro vivace - The finale is in sonata form and rounds off the work with movement and a little drama in places.

 

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