2015-2016 – A Celebration of the Montgomery Philharmonic’s 10th Anniversary Season

October 18th, 2015

About Franz Schubert –
Franz Schubert lived a rather obscure life and died at the young age of 31. What was unrecognized while he was alive, and for another generation as well, was that he was a true genius. Schubert was the fourth son of Franz Theodor Schubert, a schoolmaster, and Elisabeth Vietz Schubert, a domestic servant in Vienna. His father and his older brother, Ignaz, gave Schubert his first music lessons on the violin. His father also sent him to the Liechtenthal parish church for organ lessons with Michael Holzer.

At the age of 11, Schubert was sent to sing in the choir of the Imperial Court Chapel and also the choir of the Royal Seminary. After a while, he was asked to play violin in the orchestra. Playing in the orchestra helped him become familiar with the music of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. Because he was extremely shy, Schubert spent all of his spare time practicing.

When he was 17, Schubert’s father chose him to become his assistant teacher. It was at that time that he began to compose in earnest. His first piece that was performed in public was his
Mass in F major. It was performed in Vienna, and Schubert fell in love with the soprano soloist, Therese Grob.

Vienna was a center for poets, lawyers, sings, actors, and others who greatly influenced Schubert, so his first songs were inspired by his reading Goethe’s
Faust. These friends would become his singers, actors, patrons, and audiences for the many private concerts that he began to give. In the next few years, he composed over 140 songs, a symphony, two masses, and several other chamber music works.

He also loved teaching, so applied for a better teaching position in 1816. His application was rejected, however, and he immediately gave up his teaching career.

Born: January 31, 1797, Alsergrund, Vienna, Austria
Died: November 19, 1828, Vienna, Austria
Height: 5'1" (1.56 m) Nationality: Austrian
Compositions: 8 symphonies; 12 overtures; 3 concertante works; 6 chamber works of various instrumentation; 30 works for string quartet; 14 works for instruments with piano; 37 piano duets; 34 piano sonatas or sonata movements; 11 sacred masses, requiems, and Stabat Mater; 28 short religious works; 22 staged works; over 600 of songs, song cycles, and part songs
Siblings: Ignaz Schubert, Ferdinand Schubert, Maria Theresia Schubert, Karl Schubert
Father: Franz Theodor Schubert
Mother: Elisabeth Vietz Schubert
Overture to Rosamunde, D. 797 (1820) – Franz Schubert (1797–1828)
Oddly, this work began its performance life with another name – Die Zauberharfe (The Magic Harp). This error was made because the publisher mistakenly printed it with the incidental music for the play Rosamunde. The story is quite interesting. In July 1820, Schubert was commissioned by the Theater an der Wien to provide incidental music for a new production, Die Zauberharfe, which was to open in August. The play was a complicated and insipid tale by a successful hack, Georg von Hofmann, and there was very little time to compose the score. To cut corners to meet his deadline, Schubert raided his own manuscripts and, for the overture—the piece that we now know as the Overture to Rosamunde—he borrowed material from the introduction and coda of an overture “in the Italian style” that he had composed 3 years earlier in 1817. The incidental music received poor reviews and, in fact, the overture was not even mentioned. It was Schubert’s good fortune that the publisher made a mistake because it brought the overture to the forefront, where it received more attention.

This overture is one of Schubert’s most gratifying works. It opens with a series of fiery chords followed by a plaintive oboe melody. After this slow introduction, Schubert launches into the fast section. For this section, he writes beautiful melodies that are harmonized simply, in a way that allows the two main themes to radiate their own beauty. The mood of the overture then changes to a galloping melody, starting with the strings and then taken up by the entire orchestra. The piece concludes with a rousing coda that ties together the entire piece.
Instrumentation – 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets in Bb, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets in C, 3 trombones, timpani, strings
An Die Musik (1817) – Franz Schubert, arranged by Max Reger
In Schubert’s very short life, he composed more than 600 songs. This particular song was composed when he was 20 years old and it has become his most popular song for its beautiful melody and the lyrics penned by Franz von Schober. In 1815, when Schober met him, Schubert was trapped in the drudgery of teaching in at his father’s school for children (in Vienna).  Schober and Schubert quickly became friends, and Schober fell in love with Schubert’s music.  Seeing that Schubert he was forced to spend too much time away from music, Schober invited Schubert to come live with him in his mother’s house.  Schober also offered to support Schubert so that he could become a full-time composer.  Schubert’s father and Schober’s mother granted consent to this arrangement. Schubert and Schober enjoyed a lasting friendship.  For long periods, the two young men lived together, often sleeping in the same room. 

An Die Musik was composed in 1818, but not published until 1827, the year before Schubert’s death. It is simply about music’s ability to carry us into a better world. Originally written for voice and piano, itf has been orchestrated and arranged by both Franz Liszt and Max Reger. Its greatness and popularity are generally attributed to its harmonic simplicity, sweeping melody, and a strong bass line that effectively underpins the vocal line.
The song has served many musicians as a gift to their audiences. The most poignant was with the famous pianist Gerald Moore. At the end of Gerald Moore’s his farewell concert in London’s Royal Festival Hall in 1967, in which he accompanied three of the most famous singers at the time— – Dietrich Fischer-–Dieskau, Victoria de los Ángeles, and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf—. Moore came out onto the stage alone and played the piano part of An die Musik as his parting gift. The song is also sung at the end of each conference of the National Association of Teachers of Singing. It has also been featuhered in two films – the 2004 film, Look at Me and the 2012 film, Moonrise Kingdom.

Du holde Kunst, in wie viel grauen Stunden,
Wo mich des Lebens wilder kreis umstrickt,

Hast du mein Herz zu warmer Lieb´entzunden,
Hast mich in eine besser Welt entrückt,
In eine besser Welt entrückt!

Oft hat ein Seufzer, deiner Harf´entflossen,
Ein Süßer, heiliger Akkord von dir

Den Himmel beßrer Zeiten mir erschlossen,
Du holde Kunst, ich danke dir dafür!
Du holde Kunst, ich danke dir!

English Translation

You, lovely art, in how many grey hours,
When life’s mad tumult wraps around me,

Have you kindled my heart to warm love,
Have you transported me into a better world,
Transported into a better world!

Often has a sigh flowing out from your harp,
A sweet divine harmony from you

Unlocked to me the heaven of better times,
You, lovely Art, I thank you for it!!
You, lovely art, I thank you!
Instrumentation – Flute, oboe, clarinet, 2 horns, timpani, strings
Artifact –
Original Manuscript
Gretchen am Spinnrade (1814) – Franz Schubert, arranged by Jacques Offenbach
This song is music set to the text of. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe had written for his famous drama, Faust. A young 16-year-old Schubert creates emotional colors in the song through harmonic color. He uses modulations to keep the tonality in suspense, employing each different key as a symbol and exploration of feeling to further the expression of Gretchen’s heartache. Schubert also re-arranged the order of the strophes to illustrate and extend the drama between Faust and Gretchen. The most significant motif is that of the spinning wheel. The spinning is woven through the song as a whirling sixteenth note passage that is shared throughout the orchestra in Offenbach’s arrangement. When the spinning wheel stops, Gretchen is overwhelmed by her passion for Faust. This song was a turning point for art songs of the early 19th century, as Schubert used many musical elements to depict the drama of the text at the highest level.

Text and English Translation
Instrumentation – 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns in D, timpani, strings