Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
Program note written by Jacob Farmer
I. Allegro moderato
Approximate Performance Time:
Advanced – appropriate for upper college undergraduates and master students
James Galway & Phillip Moll. Sonata for Arpeggione and Piano in A Minor, D. 821. Sony Music, 2014. MP3.
Wang, Hsin-Yi, Keh-Shu Shen, Min-Yuan Lin and Ling-Huei Tsai A Study of Schubert’s Sonata in A Minor ¡§Arpeggione¡¨. NSYSU, 2002.
Franz Schubert was a prolific Viennese composer whose short life spanned the end of the classical period and the start of the romantic period. His first piano lessons were with his older brother, Ignaz, and with their father. He subsequently enrolled in his father’s school, where he received formal music lessons. In 1804, when young Schubert’s vocal talent was recognized, he was brought to the attention of composer Antonio Salieri. Four years later, he enrolled at the Stadtkonvikt, where he studied with Wenzel Ruzicka. Schubert also played viola in his family’s string quartet, and his earliest compositions were for this group. His compositional output was extraordinarily large—more than 1,500 works, the majority for voice and piano. He also wrote masses, oratorios, overtures, symphonies, numerous pieces for solo piano, and a substantial amount of chamber music. Schubert died of typhoid fever at age thirty-one.
In 1823, an instrument called the arpeggione was invented by guitar maker Johann Georg Stauffer. It was a fretted six-stringed instrument tuned like a guitar but bowed like a cello. The only notable piece to have been written for this instrument was Schubert’s Sonata in A Minor (“Arpeggione”). Today, this piece is most frequently played on cello, but is also performed on other instruments such as flute and viola.