Symphony No. 4 (Schubert)

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The Symphony No. 4 in C minor, D. 417, commonly called the Tragic (German: Tragische), was composed by Franz Schubert in April 1816.[1] It was completed one year after the Third Symphony, when Schubert was 19 years old. However, the work was premiered only on November 19, 1849, in Leipzig, more than two decades after Schubert's death.[citation needed]

The title Tragic is Schubert's own. It was added to the autograph manuscript some time after the work was completed.[1] It is not known exactly why he added the title, but the work is one of only two symphonies (the Unfinished Symphony is the other) which Schubert wrote in a minor key.

The symphony is scored for 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets in B-flat, 2 bassoons, 4 horns in A-flat, C and E-flat, 2 trumpets in C and E-flat, timpani and strings.

The symphony has four movements; a performance lasts around 30 minutes.

  1. Adagio molto – Allegro vivace
  2. Andante in A flat major
  3. Menuetto. Allegro vivace – Trio in E flat major
  4. Allegro

The slow introduction is modeled after Haydn's The Representation of Chaos overture to The Creation oratorio.[1][2] The opening theme of the Allegro of the first movement derives from the opening theme of Ludwig van Beethoven's String Quartet, Op. 18 No. 4 in the same key.[1]

The slow movement is in A-B-A-B-A form which would be a favorite form for most of Schubert's remaining symphonic slow movements (the Unfinished being the only exception).[1] The themes are the B section are not new. They are developed from the Allegro theme of the first movement and the themes of A section. The second appearance of B, the third return of A and the beginning of the coda have a sixteenth-note ostinato accompaniment added to help bring cohesiveness to the sections. This was a device that Beethoven had previously used in the slow movements of his Op. 18 No. 1 quartet and his Pathetique sonata.[1]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Brown, A. Peter, The Symphonic Repertoire (Volume 2). Indiana University Press (ISBN 025333487X), pp. 598-603 (2002).
  2. ^ Newbould, Brian, Schubert and the Symphony: A New Perspective, p. 86-109, Toccata Press (1992) ISBN 978-0-907689-27-0

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