The Rosamunde incidental music Op. 26 (D. 797) was composed by German-Austrian Franz Schubert for an 1823 play by Helmina von Chézy entitled Rosamunde, Fürstin von Zypern (Rosamunde, Princess of Cyprus). The play premiered in Vienna's Theater an der Wien on 20 December 1823. The play was a failure and has been permanently lost, but George Grove and Arthur Sullivan rediscovered Schubert's music in 1867.
Excerpts from the Rosamunde music are frequently performed, and are some of Schubert's most performed pieces. They have been recorded several times, notably under the batons of Kurt Masur and Claudio Abbado.
The complete score, which lasts an hour, is seldom heard. In one rare performance, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, directed by Nikolaus Harnoncourt, performed the full score at the Styriarte festival in Graz, Austria, in June 2004. The Arnold Schoenberg Choir sang the vocal parts with soloists Elisabeth von Magnus and Florian Boesch.
The music consists of an overture and ten numbers. There are two overtures associated with Rosamunde. The one actually played in the production was originally written for Schubert's opera Alfonso und Estrella. The overture usually associated with Rosamunde (though it apparently had nothing to do with it), is that to Die Zauberharfe (The Magic Harp), presumably because that overture was originally published with the incidental music. This overture is in C minor and major.
The other numbers are:
- Entr'acte No. 1, a stirring movement in B minor (Allegro molto moderato), which some believe may have been originally intended as the finale to Schubert's "Unfinished" Symphony.
- Ballet music No. 1, really two pieces in one. The first is a march in B minor (Allegro moderato) beginning with a modified version of the opening theme of the first entr'acte. Like the entr'acte, this ends in B major. A bridge passage leads to a lyrical piece in G major bearing the rather puzzling tempo marking of Andante un poco assai.
- Entr'acte No. 2 in D major (Andante), the outer sections of which have the same thematic material as those of No. 5, the "Chorus of Spirits." The central sections of both, though different, are in a similarly ominous mood.
- Romanze, "Der Vollmond Strahlt auf Bergeshöh'n" (The Full Moon Shines on the Mountain Height) (Andante con moto) in F minor and major for soprano and orchestra.
- Geisterchor (Chorus of Spirits), "In der Tiefe wohnt das Licht" (In the Deep Dwells the Light) in D major (Adagio), accompanying the brewing of the poisoned ink(!).
- Entr'acte No. 3 in B♭ major (Andantino), one of the two best-known pieces in the score. The main theme was used again in the second movement of the String Quartet in A minor, D 804 and, in a modified form, in the Impromptu in B♭, Op. 142 (D.935), No. 3.
- Hirtenmelodien (Shepherds' Melodies) in B♭ major (Andante), a sextet for clarinets, bassoons and horns.
- Hirtenchor (Shepherds' Chorus), "Hier auf den Fluren" (Here on the Fields) in B♭ major (Allegretto).
- Jägerchor (Hunters' Chorus), "Wie lebt sich's so fröhlich im Grünen" (How Merry Life is in the Country) in D major (Allegro moderato).
- Ballet No. 2, the other favorite, an Andantino in G major.
The play by Helmina von Chézy
Rosamunde, A Drama in Five Acts by Helmina von Chézy, with music by Franz Schubert was the first publication of the revised version, with an epilogue and unknown sources.
Other Rosamunde music by Schubert
A melody of the Rosamunde incidental music was re-used by Schubert in chamber music, notably in the Rosamunde string quartet and in the Impromptu Op. 142 No. 3, in B flat major, where it is the theme for a set of 5 piano variations.
In popular culture
The Overture was used for a ballet sequence in the 1952 Samuel Goldwyn film Hans Christian Andersen, starring Danny Kaye. The ballet sequence was danced by Zizi Jeanmaire. Another one of its excerpts was incorporated into the Christmas carol Mille cherubini in coro, a song made popular by Luciano Pavarotti on his 1980 Christmas special . The piece is also played in Marvel's The Avengers in the German opera house scene.
- Keller, James M. "Entr’acte No. 1". San Francisco Symphony. Retrieved 2 August 2011.
- Ein fragmentarischer autographer Entwurf zur Erstfassung von Chézys Schauspiel „Rosamunde“, in: Schubert durch die Brille. Internationales Franz Schubert Institut, Mitteilungen 18, Tutzing 1997, 46-57
- IMDB entry for Hans Christian Andersen film
- Rosamunde (Schauspielmusik): Free scores at the International Music Score Library Project
- Concert notes and analysis by Bradford Robinson, 2006 (in German)
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