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Franz Schubert: Symphony No. 9 in C major, D. 944
The Symphony in C, the last and culminating work of Schubert's genius, is literally his swan song. It was begun in
March, 1828, and on the nineteenth on November of the same year he passed away. On the twelfth of December
following his death, it was produced at the Redouten-Saal in Vienna, and was repeated in the ensuing March. It
was then neglected and forgotten until 1838, in which year Schumann visited Vienna, and, nding the score,
obtained permission to take it with him. He at once went to Leipzig, where Mendelssohn was at that time
conducting the Gewandhaus concerts, and together the two friends and composers studied it. It did not take
them long to discover its beauty, notwithstanding its length. It was performed at the Gewandhaus, March 22,
The rst movement opens with an introductory Andante, the tender, fairy-like melody of which is assigned to
the horns alone, afterward repeated by oboes and clarinets. After working up at some length a start is made
pianissimo, and a grand crescendo, enlivened by a triplet gure, leads to the Allegro, the strings giving out the
bold, decisive rst theme answered by the winds in triplets. The second theme, stated in the oboes and
bassoons, is in striking contrast with the rst, and really establishes the rhythm of the movement. An episode
growing out of this theme, and a third broad subject in which the trombones are employed with striking e ect,
constitute the principal material of the movement. The Coda is long and copious, closing in rather accelerated
tempo marked by a repetition of the triplet gure of the initial theme.
The Andante opens with a short prelude in the strings, after which the oboe starts o with the rst theme -- a
quaint, plaintive, bewitching strain which has every characteristic of gypsy music, closing with a signi cant
four-note cadence which seems to have haunted Schubert throughout the rest of the work. The theme is
repeated with variation and the addition of the clarinet, after which the oboe gives out a new phrase succeeded
by an episode of an agitated, even furious, character, after which the fascinating rst theme returns. The second
subject, entering pianissimo, is ingeniously treated, and closes with a charming horn episode. The opening
subject then returns, this time for oboe, which soon plays its part as accompaniment for a charming solo passage
for the cello. A change of key, and the second subject returns with fresh treatment. The horn episode is heard
again, and the movement closes with the fascinating opening theme.
The Scherzo starts with a unison passage for strings, followed by a boisterous episode in the oboes and horns, in
which the four beats already alluded to make themselves felt. The second subject, given out by the strings, with
accompaniment of clarinets and bassoons, is light and playful in character. The trio opens with horns and
clarinets, leading to a broad melody in the winds, with string accompaniment, producing a brilliant orchestral
e ect and with the Scherzo, da capo, the movement closes.
The Finale crowns this extraordinary work with a tting climax, impetuous and resistant in its rush, with the four
beats asserting themselves all through it. After an introduction of a most energetic and sonorous character, the
rst theme is announced in the oboes and bassoons, with the violins accompanying in triplets of ery velocity.
The second theme is led o by the horns, the violins still in the mad, impetuous sweep of their triplets, and the
rst half of the movement closes with a working-out of part of the second theme. The second part is ery in its
energy, and closes with an immense crescendo, beginning with the violas, double pianissimo, and spreading
over hundred and sixty-four measures before coming to a nal rest.
Robert Schumann: Symphony No.4, D minor, Op.120
Schumann's Second Symphony, in D minor, was rst written in the later months of 1841, and
performed in December of that year in Leipzig. It was not altogether to his liking, and he laid it
aside until 1851, when he revised the instrumentation of it, and published it as Op.120.
Consequently, it is known as No. 4, although it was the second in order of composition. He called it
at rst a Symphony-Fantasia, with the sub-title Symphony in One Movement---for its ve tempo-
Divisions are all connected without interruptions, and certain thematic factors are carried through
the entire work. It is widely esteemed as his most attractive symphonic creation, and in truth
nothing could be more winning and impressively beautiful than the Introduction, the Romanze,
and everyone of its thematic melodies; a wonderfully alluring atmosphere envelops the whole, and
the ne rhythmic pulse of the two Allegros is exhilarating. Nevertheless, this work betrays some of
Schumann's undeniable shortcomings, particularly as concerns the structure and the orchestration;
and the listener's impressions waver between fascination and disappointment. It is a genuine
specimen of Romantic musical expression: original, intensely subjective, emotional, free---at times
somewhat regardless of the regulations so essential to classic art. There is an Introduction, and the
structural plan of the rst Allegro is irregular, consisting as it does in a normal Exposition, a
Development which trails o into a series of related Sections that "develop" nothing vital, and no
Recapitulation---a jubilant Coda taking its place.
The truly lovely lyric Romanze is a Three-Part Song form with Trio, the da capo transposed and
reduced to one Part only. The Second Part of the principal Division is borrowed from the Introduction,
and the Trio (in D major), in which a Solo-violin gracefully embellishes the principal violin part,
also contains thematic allusions to it.
A vigorous Scherzo, in usual form, follows the Romanze. The Trio contrasts most e ectively with
the principal Division, and is strongly reminiscent of the exquisite Trio in the preceding Movement
(with the Solo-violin part). After the da capo, the Trio is restated, with ingenious dynamic
alterations---its last Part "fading away," dissolving into a brief Coda, that serves to connect this
Movement with the next.
The succeeding Finale begins with a transitional Interlude (or Introduction), based upon the chief
thematic gure of the rst Allegro. The form is sonata-allegro, slightly abbreviated. The principal
Theme (or, rather, Motive only) is derived from the third Section of the Development in the rst
Movement. The second Codetta, related principal Motive, furnishes the main contents of the
Development in this Finale; the Recapitulation begins with the subordinate Theme (the principal
Motive being omitted); the Coda ends brilliantly with new, though very similar motives.