Hearing Schubert D779n13

Monday, February 16, 2015

Martin Chusid on Schubert's Dances

The late Martin Chusid's monograph Schubert's Dances: For Family, Friends, and Posterity was published by Pendragon Press in 2013. An extended introduction by Walburga Litschauer, a familiar figure in these blog pages, was drawn largely from Litschauer and Deutsch (according to a comment by Chusid).

The chapter titles are:

The minuets (for winds, piano, and string quartet)
The ecossaises
The early German dances and ländler
Published waltzes, ländler, and German dances I: for the Carnival seasons of 1822 to 1825
Published waltzes, ländler, and German dances II: for the Carnival seasons of 1826 to 1828
The polonaises and dances for piano duet: Schubert and the Esterhazy family at Zseliz
The dances published after Schubert's death: Diabelli and op. 127 (D. 146); The dances edited by Brahms; The remaining dance publications.

Careful, thorough, traditionally oriented musicological work is welcome, though the volume has the character of a documentation, as it lacks a firmly committed argument to set a context for the work. Instead, one gets the definite impression that the volume is simply meant to fill a gap in Schubert scholarship, to which Chusid had already made distinguished, lifelong contributions. 

Assumptions about the priority of music for performance, rather than for dancing, come through clearly in chapter 1 (on the minuets), as do related preferences for possible cyclic designs and for distinctive harmonic or formal treatments. Thus, for example, D779n13, from the common observation that in "almost every musical aspect there are features . . . not commonly found in Schubert's other works in the genre," one jumps immediately to "the result is a remarkably complex and sophisticated composition," and of course to "perhaps the finest of all his dances" (135). It is also "the most ambitious" of the dances in D779, and one in which "Schubert avoids any sense of monotony."

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Franz Schubert and His World

Franz Schubert and His World is the title of an essay anthology edited by Christopher H. Gibbs and Morten Solvik and recently published by Princeton University Press. Despite the title, most of the volume is devoted to what might be called Schubert sidelights, secondary topics, or even tangents. One chapter restates an already well-known position. A promising essay on Schubert and the Vienna Volkstheater descends into superficial melodic comparisons.

The great exception to the rule is John M. Gingerich's brilliant essay on the Schubert circle, "'Those of us who found our life in art': The Second-Generation Romanticism of the Schubert-Schober Circle, 1820-1825." Level-headed evaluations are greatly welcome about a number of issues--from assumptions about the Schubertkreis (which Gingerich narrows to a circle about Schubert and his friend Franz von Schober, a group with Romantic ideals about art and artists), about Schubert and money (a communitarian attitude prevailed among the group), about sexuality (Gingerich debunks the once fashionable notion of Schubert and homosexuality), and about religious non-conformity.

Friday, October 17, 2014


I am in process of moving posts about rising gestures and cadence figures in music other than Schubert's generation or 19th century Vienna to a new blog: Ascending Cadence Gestures in Traditional Tonal Music. These are two multi-part sets: the van Eyck series and the "Kidson" series.

A few posts relating primarily to design in small compositions, and especially those concerned with William Caplin's form theory, will be moved to my blog Dance and Dance Music, 1650-1850.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Ge Ho, Dobbin

This and four other "Kidson" posts have moved to my Ascending Cadence Gestures blog.

Friday, March 14, 2014