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Schubert: Symphony No. 3
Franz Schubert was born in Himmelpfortgrund, Austria on January 31, 1797 and died in Vienna, Austria on November 19, 1828. He composed his Third Symphony in 1815. It runs approximately 25 minutes in performance and is scored for 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, timpani, and orchestral strings.
"I have come into this world for no purpose but to compose," Schubert once remarked. The astonishing fecundity of this composer's mind revealed itself no more spectacularly than in 1815, when, in his nineteenth year, he produced nearly two hundred compositions, including the Symphony No. 3. The work was probably written for an informal gathering of amateur orchestral musicians, in which Schubert participated as a violist. The first complete authenticated performance did not occur until 1881 in London, many years after Schubert's death.
Symphony No. 3 opens with a slow introduction in which the principal feature is an upward scale passage. The Allegro section is announced by a charming and unassuming theme shared by solo clarinet and oboes/horns, a theme imbued with Schubert's unique brand of lyricism. The second subject, not appreciably different in character or mood from the first, follows a dramatic silence, and is again played by a solo wind instrument (oboe). The upward rising scale figure from the slow introduction returns on several occasions, now with great vigour. Note that in the recapitulation, the clarinet claims both principal themes for itself. A spirit of Viennese gaiety and carefree delight pervades the music.
Schubert originally intended the second movement to be an Adagio, but wrote instead an ingratiating Allegretto in simple ABA form. The third movement is marked “Menuetto vivace,” which is almost a contradiction in terms. The character is more that of a scherzo or heavy-footed peasant dance, with its characteristic accents on the upbeats. The Trio, another gem of Schubertian grace, features the oboe and bassoon; the Menuetto is then repeated.
The finale suggests the tarantella rhythm as it skips along breathlessly. On the one hand it reflects, in its lightness and fleetness, something of the Rossini craze that was sweeping Europe at the time; on the other, we can see in its driving force and obsession with a single rhythm the forerunner of Schubert's own finales in his mature masterpieces, the D Minor String Quartet and the great C Major Symphony.
Programme Note by Robert Markow
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