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8.550259 - SCHUBERT: 6 Moments Musicaux, D. 780 / 3 Piano Pieces, D. 946
Franz Schubert (1797 - 1828)
6 Moments musicaux, Opus 94, D, 780
Franz Schubert was born in Vienna in 1797, the son of a schoolmaster who had followed his brother to the Imperial capital from his native Moravia. Descended on his mother's side from Silesian stock, Schubert was as Viennese in language and outlook as any other inhabitant of a city, the cultural strength of which lay in its very mixture of races.
Schubert's family showed considerable musical enthusiasm, his father evidently the least proficient member of the family string quartet, in which he played the cello. Schubert himself, like Mozart before him, played the violin and viola, and was a proficient enough keyboard-player, if no great virtuoso. His musical and general education was at the Staatskonvikt, an institution he attended as a member of the choir of the Imperial Chapel directed by the Kapellmeister Antonio Salieri, his composition teacher. In 1812, when his voice broke, he left the choir and rather than continue an education that would have distracted him from music he chose in 1814 to embark on a course of teacher training, joining his father in the family business as an assistant teacher in the following year.
During these early years Schubert had shown considerable musical precocity. His first surviving compositions date from 1810 and by the following year he had embarked on the writing of the first of the many song settings in which his particular genius in melodic invention is shown. 1811 brought his first attempt at opera, a medium in which he never achieved any particular distinction, and his ambitious attempts at others forms of vocal and instrumental music. The following years brought a flood of music of all kinds so that by the end of the year in which he completed his formal education he had already written, among other things three symphonies, a dozen or so string quartets and some fifty songs.
As a school-teacher Schubert showed little ability or interest and in 1816 he gave up the attempt, living thereafter intermittently with various friends, busy as a composer and as an important figure in his own circle, but never enjoying any official position as a musician. His last years were darkened by illness of syphilitic origin that first made itself known in 1823, its predictable and fatal progress awakening immediate fears for his life. He died in 1828, the year of the first public concert dedicated to his music, at a time when publishers were showing an increased interest in his work.
Schubert's six Momens musicals, which might more correctly have appeared as Moments musicaux, were published in Vienna in 1828 by Leidesdorf, with whom the composer had come to an agreement in 1822 to provide songs for two years in return for a regular payment of 480 florins. The sixth of the later Musical Moments was published in 1824 in a Christmas album under the title Les Plaintes d'un Troubadour. Like the Impromptus these short piano pieces seem to owe a debt to the Bohemian composer Tomasek and his pupil Jan Vorlsek. The third of the set is in Rosamunde vein and the fourth in Baroque style. The Allegretto in C minor belongs in form to the same group of pieces and was given by the composer to his friend Ferdinand Watcher, an official in the War Ministry, on his departure for Venice, the base of the Imperial fleet, in May 1827. It forms the composer's brief adieu to his friend, hinting at his soon return.
The three Piano Pieces of May 1828 were to be published only forty years later. The first, described by Alfred Einstein as in the French manner, includes an original additional Andantino A flat section. The last, in the tripartite form so often used for music of this kind, Einstein sees as Hungarian, with the second of the pieces, more elaborate in structure, based on an Italian cavatina, its contrasting episodes moving into ever remoter keys. The pieces, in spite of Einstein's contrary view, do not seem to have been conceived as a single work but were published in this form by Brahms in 1868.
He is currently engaged in a project to record all Mozart's piano concertos for Naxos. Other recordings for the Naxos label include the concertos of Grieg and Schumann as well as Rachmaninov's Second Concerto and Paganini Rhapsody and Beethoven's complete piano sonatas.
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