Symphony No. 8 in B minor, D. 759 (Unfinished) by Franz Schubert

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Symphony No. 8 by Franz Schubert is one of his many notable and prolific works. Since it was created in preparation for Symphony No. 8 Minor, it is referred to as "unfinished" around the world (D. 759). One reviewer called it one of Schubert's "most romantic" symphonies. Two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, two horns, two trumpets, three trombones, a timpani, and strings were among the instruments utilized. It took two movements and 25 minutes to complete. He introduced a whole new level of harmony which was established through the specific color of the instruments chosen and the melody all created when combined to a minute degree that presented a wide range and incredible musical power. This symphony was had been composed 6 years before the 9th symphony and it was first performed 43 years after 'The Great C, D. of 944'.

It was performed in a concert that given by the Music Friends of Vienna Society in December 7 186S. when performing the third final symphony, D major was added, however, this was not quit adhered. A complete whole was made by the two movements completed. After the performance, Schubert as made one of the honorary members of the music society, however, it was still uncertain whether or not Schubert decided to dedicate his unfinished work. The work however remained unfinished owing to Schubert's continuous absent- mindedness; it's actually doubted that he had intended to finish it. Some say that he abandoned the project since he saw that there was too much Beethoven attached to it and therefore he avoided being derivative of it, however, others suggested that Schubert had actually run out of creativity since he was out of time due to his ailment though none was confirmed to be the truth since he was still 6 years from his death and he continued to compose other symphonies.

Musical elements that made Schubert work distinctive

Some of the Musical elements that made Franz Schubert's Symphony No. 8 in B minor, D. 759 (Unfinished) work distinctive included his musical character, he had a great music technique, had very high level musical imaginative power which was backed up with a great musical spirit and to add to his outstanding musical character, he was a man of great patience. His patience is what gave him the time needed to compose great musical works. This piece had been written about 43 years before its actual performance: it shows the actual energy that he had actually put in that piece was quite remarkable and were out to match his idea of musical excellence. He also incorporated a great choice of musical language, however, he did not necessarily discard the other older musical language, he found a way to incorporate it into his work which made his music even more appealing due to the harmonic sense that the new languages and the incorporation of the older musical languages produced when combined. The language change and variance that he used was a prime key that he used to unfold his written musical text. Other orchestral elements that contributed to his distinctive work piece in the unfinished symphony were the musical textures created by his choice of different musical instruments.

Shubert used his creative musical element to write different textures for the different musical instruments that he used but using the same measure. By doing so, he established a contrasting musical atmosphere. In his first movement, in the first theme, one can note his writing style in the Symphony No. 8 in B minor. A mysterious atmosphere is created when the violins have a such a texture that involves them playing rapid 16 notes in pp, the oboe and the clarinets take long notes and are played in the first theme four measures after the violin such that the combination created a contrast and the latter act as the violin accompaniment. The figure below shows the textures in the piece Fig 1

His musical arrangement is also perfect where the clarinets, the bassoons and the whole string section take the motif part while the soloist is placed where he plays the tremolo using both hands. His pianist, similarly, aids the soloist where he considered the mental and the physical processes that would have been essential for the correct hand movement with respect to the sound to be produced so that the solo would also be able to use his two hands to contrast the timbres, all at once. The musical shape is achieved by the movement which he does rhythmically when he beginning his movement and the theme is repeated such that the audience get the continuous context in of the performance regardless of the instrument that accompanied the later. By shaping the rhythm, the pianist had also a role to play in controlling the tempo, the pulse and he also had a mastery of recurring themes though this was a challenge to him since the musical pulse was the same in the first movement, then an adjustment of the tempo had to be incorporated to ensure that music flow was maintained.

Shubert also made his musical piece in Symphony No. 8 in B minor exemplary due to the incorporation of the varying tone colors and the variance brought in by the instruments that created layer changes that were all contained in the same melody. The clarinet, the oboe, and the flute play were all the same: clear order phrase, two- measure, and the arrangement created a dynamicity i.e. ɟ and went down to ppp. There was also a conversation created between instruments due to the alternating melody phases that Schubert created that appeared thought his music. At one instance, the alternation between that strings and the woodwinds were the communication links for the other instruments. The figure below shows the phases and the communication links created.

The repetition of phases also created a communication link, for example, the bassoon and the cello would begin the conversation say at 458, then the piano answered to the conversation shortly at 461 then the conversation would recur about two times before the horn was also incorporated into the conversation at 467 in a G- flat major with a long note. Timing of the phases was perfect to avoid interference during the entrance phases and ensured a perfect communication blend.

Main issues that connected his work and its context

Shubert had an admiration for Beethoven who was an artist and a composer and he was one of the major influences in his music model though indirectly.3 In his music, he echoes motives from the Beethoven works, however, he tended to limit it since Beethoven music direction was mostly patronizing and involved wild passions instead of leading people to God as he perceived. His academic background was also one tool that steered his musical passion: he was an excellent student of the orchestra at Konvikit which was a Viennese boarding school and it was here that he played symphonies of Beethoven and lead to his deepest impression of music. The musical concerts that he attended also made him realize his self-worth and encouraged him to open his first performance. He was 12 when he began playing the violin. Shubert had first developed the piano fantasy so as to allow himself to have total freedom and this was the heroic opening movement in his symphony theme. The transition into the second movement was a development that was made from the same rhythmic pattern thought there were variations that were developed. Schubert had created the musical fantasy of the keyboard which was the mental and the physical challenge that went beyond his playing abilities and he had actually started as an informal performance that even made him break down. From his former perspective where the piano fantasy was challenging owing to the forte, the fortissimo and the Sforzalando and the other largescale related works, put together with the tremolo that was one of the extreme schemes that involved the use of both hands and the inclusion of the pianissimo that involve 16 notes that were rapid, he used these key features in his orchestral writing and his symphony thesis.

How the work demonstrates/ contradicts expectations for the style and the genre

Shubert's style was varied and he ranged from the easy going tune to the craft of composition. He used charming ideas and molded them into the convectional musical styles since he had an appetite for experiment.4 The interaction that Shubert had with Beethoven and what he had actually mentioned in his burial ceremony demonstrated his musical interest in the same genre that Beethoven had actually majored in. He went ahead to perform in a concert after Beethoven's death as attribute to him. It was a heroic symphony that render a touching and intimate style of music, much more than what Beethoven had actually presented previously. The context of the performance showed the similarities between Beethoven's Septet and the Octet by Schubert. His genre, however, tended to present more expansive structures. Shubert had actually found his musical voice and confidence to build his own musical models owing to the influence he had obtained. He went ahead to major on dactylic styles and a musical motto that presented the maturity of his musical work: he had some of the most distinctive musical fingerprints and adopted a musical figure that he proceeded to redefine in his musical career. The influence from the classical sonata forms of Mozart formed the structures of his musical genre and the combination of the classical and the romantic models gave him a peculiar discursive style. He genre of Lied that enabled Schubert develop his own indelible musical mark since he expanded the potentials of the genre and made it tend towards more strophic dimension. He incorporated his poetic setting to bring up a dramatic context that created a pictorial harmony.


Frisch, Walter. Schubert: Critical and analytical studies, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1986. 226- 237.

Gammond, Peter. The encyclopedia of classical music: an essential guide to the world's finest music, 47-59. London: Salamander Books, 1989.

Mackenzie, Compton, and Christopher Stone, The gramophone. London: C. Mackenzie, 1923. 71-85

Newbould, Brian. Schubert, the music and the man, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999. 272- 275.

April 13, 2023

Music Art

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Piano Song Art History

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