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String Quartet in B-flat major D.68

Franz Schubert (b. 1797 - d. 1828)

Quatuor Diotima

Quatuor Diotima

Composer
Franz Schubert (b. 1797 - d. 1828)
Composition Year
1813
Work Movements
1. Allegro maestoso
2. Maestoso
Artists
Quatuor Diotima (Naaman Sluchin, Yun Peng Zhao [violins], Franck Chevalier [viola], Pierre Morlet [cello])

Programme Note Writer:
© Francis Humphrys

Schubert wrote sixteen string quartets, twelve of them when he was still in his teens. He composed them, often at great speed, for the family quartet. His brother Ferdinand wrote about this after Schubert’s early death: His father and older brothers took extreme pleasure in playing quartets with him. This occurred mostly during the vacation months [Schubert’s father was a teacher, Schubert himself boarded at the Imperial and Royal Seminary until his voice broke in 1812]. In these quartets Franz always played viola, his brother Ignaz second violin, Ferdinand first violin and Papa violoncello. Schubert was offered an endowment to stay on at the Seminary, which he rejected as he could not accept the requirement to focus his studies on non-musical subjects. So he returned to live at home and continued his regular education at the High School while also getting composition lessons from Anton Salieri, Mozart’s famous adversary. It was during this period, 1813-14, that he wrote half of his early quartets.

Schubert left large numbers of incomplete or unfinished scores and this quartet is one of them, for the middle movements are missing. We are left with the opening Allegro and a rousing closing Finale. Apparently the autograph score has many corrections, showing that he struggled with the final form of the first movement, so it could be possible that this was one of his many unfinished works. What we have here is Schubert setting out to master the techniques of Mozart and Haydn, without taking any of the bold steps forward that we find a few years later. The style of the first movement, as in many of these early quartets, is quasi-orchestral and full of drama; one could easily think up an operatic plot to put alongside this score. The last movement has all the energy and some of the wit of a Haydn finale. We will have to imagine the missing middle movements.

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String Quartet in B-flat major D.68

Composer: Franz Schubert (b. 1797 - d. 1828)
Performance date: Saturday 25th June 2011
Venue: St. Brendan's Church, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland

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Composer Franz Schubert (b. 1797 - d. 1828)
Work Title String Quartet in B-flat major D.68
Composition Year 1813
Work Movements 1. Allegro maestoso
2. Maestoso
Artist(s) Quatuor Diotima (Naaman Sluchin, Yun Peng Zhao [violins], Franck Chevalier [viola], Pierre Morlet [cello])
Performance Date Saturday 25th June 2011
Performance Venue St. Brendan's Church, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland
Event Stars in the Afternoon Concert
Duration 00:14:34
Recording Engineer Anton Timoney, RTÉ lyric fm
Instrumentation Category String Quartet
Instrumentation 2vn, va, vc
Programme Note Writer © Francis Humphrys
Schubert wrote sixteen string quartets, twelve of them when he was still in his teens. He composed them, often at great speed, for the family quartet. His brother Ferdinand wrote about this after Schubert’s early death: His father and older brothers took extreme pleasure in playing quartets with him. This occurred mostly during the vacation months [Schubert’s father was a teacher, Schubert himself boarded at the Imperial and Royal Seminary until his voice broke in 1812]. In these quartets Franz always played viola, his brother Ignaz second violin, Ferdinand first violin and Papa violoncello. Schubert was offered an endowment to stay on at the Seminary, which he rejected as he could not accept the requirement to focus his studies on non-musical subjects. So he returned to live at home and continued his regular education at the High School while also getting composition lessons from Anton Salieri, Mozart’s famous adversary. It was during this period, 1813-14, that he wrote half of his early quartets.

Schubert left large numbers of incomplete or unfinished scores and this quartet is one of them, for the middle movements are missing. We are left with the opening Allegro and a rousing closing Finale. Apparently the autograph score has many corrections, showing that he struggled with the final form of the first movement, so it could be possible that this was one of his many unfinished works. What we have here is Schubert setting out to master the techniques of Mozart and Haydn, without taking any of the bold steps forward that we find a few years later. The style of the first movement, as in many of these early quartets, is quasi-orchestral and full of drama; one could easily think up an operatic plot to put alongside this score. The last movement has all the energy and some of the wit of a Haydn finale. We will have to imagine the missing middle movements.