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Barry Lyndon(1975).  Ryan O'Neill and Marisa Berenson.  Directed by Stanley Kubrick.

Rather than seeing the above scene as just a good marriage of film and music (in this case, Schubert's Piano Trio in E flat), I suspect that Kubrick really first found the music and then puzzled over how to make a film to justify using it.  The slow staging of is is like a small ballet.  

Leonard Rosenman won an Oscar for best film score for his arrangements of Schubert and Handel.  That seems too easy to me.

More Schubert below, including Schubert's Symphony #9, The Great C Major Symphony.  It has to be great if they say so in the title.

I love Schubert's Ninth.  When I started this music series a couple of years ago, I intended to do the Schubert Ninth early on.  However, I love it so much and hold it in such awe that I didn't get around to it.

When I bought my first cassette tape deck back in the seventies as a punk kid, one of the first things I recorded off the radio, a live performance, was the Schubert Symphony #9.  I had never heard it before.  I remember I had a Maxell 60 minute tape.  The symphony was about 60 and a half minutes long.  I missed the very ending, but I didn't care that much.  When I got a Ford Granada in 1977 with its own tape player (such luxury, eh?) I played that tape to death.  Always without that last half minute!  When I hear the complete symphony today, the coda of the finale shocks me, because I subconsciously expect the tape leader to hiss at me.

At some point, while listening to it for the umpteenth time, I must have formed the idea that the Schubert Ninth was so loveable and that it had to be the perfect introduction to classical music.  Ha.  Subsequent events did not bear that out.

In the late eighties, I organized some Internet get-together parties where I corralled a bunch of people to meet up at Hollywood Bowl in the cheap seats -- way in the back at the top, under the trees, chipmunks running around our feet like rats -- and then ignore the assigned seating so we could clump up and get drunk together.   Some of them were very successful.  When I started pitching for Schubert's Ninth, people dropped out at the last moment, leaving me and one friend who I was excited to introduce to Schubert's Ninth, which I gushed about, much as I gush about a lot of things in this series, so you can probably imagine it.  His reaction afterwards was to say, as an honest critique, (and I would have wanted nothing less), "I found it very long and boring, actually."  

That's not a good recommendation for the symphony we're going to hear today is it?  Have faith.  Because I spent an inordinate amount of time obsessing about that.  I thought that what was needed was a sherpa guide, somebody to lead us into this enormous landscape.  

When I was in high school, I had to learn Shakespeare's Macbeth, Julius Caesar (twice), and Henry V.  Hated them all.  It was schoolwork.  I got the message that this was IMPORTANT LITERATURE.  It is.  But knowing something is important isn't the same thing as appreciation.

Schubert's Ninth is not Julius Caesar.  This symphony is a lot more fun than that, an adventure ride with thrills and chills, not a test of your intellectual skills.   But it is very long.  A four-volume novel, as Robert Schumann (not Schubert -- a different size Schu) described it:

"... [There] is life in every fiber, color in the finest shadings, meaning everywhere, the acutest etching of detail, and all flooded with a Romanticism which we have encountered elsewhere in Franz Schubert. And this heavenly length, like a fat novel in four volumes by Jean Paul—never-ending, and if only that the reader may go on creating in the same vein afterwards. . . .

It is still evidence of an extraordinary talent that he who heard so little of his own instrumental work during his lifetime could achieve such an idiomatic treatment both of individual instruments and of the whole orchestra, securing an effect as of human voices and chorus in discourse. . . . The brilliance and novelty of the instrumentation, the breadth and expanse of the form, the striking changes of mood, the whole new world into which we are transported—all this may be confusing to the listener, like any initial view of the unfamiliar. But there remains a lovely aftertaste, like that which we experience at the conclusion of a play about fairies or magic. There is always the feeling that the composer knew exactly what he wanted to say and how to say it, and the assurance that the gist will become clearer with time.”

Yup.  Schubert never heard it.  In fact, the naming of it as the Ninth Symphony is a matter of dispute -- some having labeled it his seventh, eighth, or his tenth symphony as well), because Schubert never published his symphonies.  It was first performed some thirty years after his death at the behest of Schumann and Mendelssohn, and they only got it performed by abridging it.  It was many decades after his death before the whole symphony was performed intact.

The opening day of the Liverpool-Manchester railway, September 15, 1830).

A Brief History Timeline for Historical Context

Beethoven's Ninth received its first performance in 1824.  A number of famous people were in the audience, expecting to be wowed.  One of them was Schubert.  He began work on his own Ninth Symphony in 1825, finishing it a year later.  Into a desk drawer it went.  Beethoven died in 1827.  Schubert, who worshiped Beethoven, was one of his pall-bearers.  Two years later, in 1829, Schubert died at the age of 31.  In 1830, Berlioz composed the Symphonie Fantastique, which we heard the last two weeks.  Also in 1830, the first locomotive railways were constructed in England.  This was the pivotal event in the industrial revolution of the nineteenth century.  Try to imagine the difference between these two worlds, one with and one without mass transport.  The world was verging on enormous change.  That is our historical context.

The influence of Beethoven's Ninth was clearly on Schubert's mind in the size and scope of his own Ninth Symphony.  It's huge.  It's ambitious.  Unlike Beethoven, it doesn't address universal truths, like "Alle menschen werden Bruder" (All men are brothers.)  There is less philosophy, more drama.  In particular, Schubert creates a fantastic narrative of building tension in the first movement driven to a powerful targeted climax.  But the language of the symphony is very Beethoven influenced.  If I had to think of a work to best compare it to, it would be Beethoven's Symphony 7.  (He made this comparison himself).

Composing in the Beethoven-mold didn't come automatically to Schubert, who had had success as a song-writer.  As I mentioned last week, unlike Beethoven, Schubert was a melodic composer.

Ted Wiprud of the New York Philharmonic explains how this affected the Schubert Ninth:

The first movement begins with a long, slow introduction, a mini-movement in its own right, opened by the playing of a solo French horn.  After a mini-climax, the first movement proper begins, and, yup, it's Sonata-Allegro form, like everything else around here.  

As becomes apparent, there are some tricks going on in the rhythm, where a three-beat rhythm competes with a two-beat rhythm.  When they overlay each other, it creates a slick train-going-uphill locomotion.  (Oh, that's why Dumbo's thinking about trains today... Yup.)  I think I can I think I can!  If you're into roller coasters, you know that the tensest part of the ride is that long slow ratcheting haul to the top of the coaster.  The motif of the French horn that began the symphony will show up in disguised form at the climax and again, more clearly, in the triumphant, blazing coda.

Schubert's Symphony #9, "The Great C Major", First movement, Andante -- Allegro ma non troppo.
Vienna Philharmonic conducted by Gardiner.

(You might get better sound by clicking through to the youtube site, clicking the gear icon, and choosing 1080p.  It won't improve the video much, but it might improve the audio.  S'up to you.)

Introduction (0:00)

A solo horn rings out with the main theme of the introduction, all the more majestic for its being solo.  The strings and woodwinds come in to flesh it out.  All of it very loving.

At 1:41, the woodwinds try to sing the same theme, but they are repeatedly interrupted by the brass and drums.  

Notice the slight increase in the tension at 2:05 as we change keys temporarily, and we first begin to feel the two-beat, three-beat conflict.  At 2:35, we return back to the home key (C major -- it's in the title, of course), but the pace picks up, the instruments more shrill.  We reach a mini-climax!  And then it plateaus...  Oh where are we going now??

Exposition First Theme (3:09)

The tempo increases to allegro, the tone becomes boisterous.  The new theme announces a new DUM daDUM daDUM motif and rhythm.  At 3:25, it takes on a V shape as it first walks downhill, then uphill.

Exposition Second Theme (3:59)

We abruptly segue into the second theme, presented by the woodwinds, this in the darker territory of E minor.  This theme has two-beats (really four, but same difference).  There are three-beat things going on in the background.  This motif, and this overlaying rhythm will be with us for a while and will give us the chugga-chugga to pull the roller coaster to the top.

Initially in the dark E-minor, after a slap up the side of the head from the rest of the orchestra, it slips into the positive G major (the dominant of C, key of the symphony, it's in the title).

Exposition Third Theme (5:02)

Now, one of the cool, magical things about this movement.  Suddenly, we change keys again and the mood becomes quiet but expectant.  A new character is added to the cast. The trombones enigmatically come in with a new theme -- one that's based on the introduction motif.  We change keys again...  It's getting tense here!  Again... And voila!  We are back in G major, and we have a triumphant conclusion with full orchestra.  To the exposition.

Development (5:58)

But the journey is just beginning.  The rhythm of the second theme is pleasantly chugga-chuggaing us uphill, all very modest and pleasant.  At 6:12, the first theme's motif (DUM daDUM daDUM), played by the violins, joins the ride.  All very pleasant and modest with a strong sense of forward motion.  

But at 6:25, the key begins to change again, and the tension begins to rise, as we approach the top of the coaster.  The two-beat/three-beat conflict escalates, escalates, ESCALATES...

6:46 CRISIS!  Aaaaarrrgghhh!!!!  The trombones, playing the introduction motif, ride us straight downhill to hell.  The strings become panicky, shrill, dissonant.  The drums and brass bring a brutal end to this ordeal.

At 7:12, in the aftermath, the come out dolefully, as if to ask, "Is it okay to come out now?"

Recapitulation First Theme Again (7:41)

Yes it is, as we slide very gently back into C major and the first theme.  Notice how much softer it is than the first time we heard it.  Unlike the first time, in the exposition, when we came charging into the first theme, this time, in good narrative style, Schubert makes the entrance with more humility, having just escaped from roller coaster hell.  It tiptoes around for a while, but at 8:26, it finally regains its confidence, becomes boisterous, full of brass and drums and piss and vinegar again.

Interesting, isn't it, how so much drama can be packed into music through Sonata-Allegro form?  Oftentimes, the recapitulation is just a pro forma thing, something they put in because people expect it.  Here, Schubert uses it in a "The protagonist is changed by his experiences," narrative style.

[... There's some distortion in the clip here.  Forgive me.  I knew that but still preferred it to the other clips available.]

Recapitulation: Second Theme Again (8:58)

The second theme returns, dark at first, as before.  It takes an unexpected twist downward to A minor before launching itself upwards into the buoyantly happy home key C major.  

Recapitulation: Third Theme Again (10:00)

Like before, the trombones return with the theme based on the introduction motif, this time in C# Minor, but it works its way back to C major.  And that brings us to a rousing conclusion to the Recapitulation.

Coda (11:07)

Coda means tail, and we're at the tail end.  The first theme returns, gentle at first, but then builds up to (at 11:52) a climax.  

The movement COULD end here.  But no.  The tempo picks up...  And then the introduction theme returns, but now it's gloriously triumphant, presented by full orchestra, brass turned up to eleven, punctuated by drums.  Even here, at the end, we can hear the two-beat/three-beat conflict.

At 12:38, the full orchestra treatment stops, and the strings play the intro theme in unison without harmony.  And we end, full orchestra.


NOW TAKE A COFFEE BREAK and come back for the second movement!  As your Schubert-sherpa, I suggest doing it that way for this symphony.  (Try saying Schubert-sherpa three times really fast.  Difficult, isn't it?)  It's a lot to process.  Take a coffee break.  If you have coffee.  If you have a cup to drink the coffee in.


I'm going to switch to the George Szell recording for the second movement.  I love George Szell and feel guilty about not using him for the first movement but I had my reasons.  The recording levels are louder on this one.

Schubert's Symphony #9 in C Major, Second Movement, Andante con moto, George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra

The form of this movement is symmetrical, ABA-CDC-ABA-CDC-ABA, but it's much more complicated than that because the repeating sections evolve.  For instance, the determined fighting spirit of the first ABA movement is gone by the time we get to the last one.  There are also segues between the sections that tie them together, and I've labeled those separately.  These segues turn what could be a dumb symmetrical movement into a drama.

So what is the drama of this movement?  I'll say it's about defeat.  Maybe death.  It's about as close to Mahler's music as we will get before Mahler arrives on the scene, decades hence.  

ABA section (0:00)

A gritty, trudging rhythm is set up in the deeper strings as an introduction.  Atop this comes the main theme, played by a solo oboe.  One of the most beautiful themes for oboe.  If I had a nickel for every time I've played that on my recorder flute during a TV commercial, I'd be doing quite well.  This movement provides a much better example of Schubert at his melodic best.  The middle B part is violent with brass and drums.  The return of the oboe's A-section acts as a closing buffer around it.

CDC section (3:10)

The mood lightens a little.  The harshness fades away.  We're in a major key now.  An absolutely classic Schubert beautiful, winding melody.  But see if you can notice similarities -- or perhaps I should say congruities -- between this theme and the oboe theme.  It's not the same theme, but they fit together well.  For instance, notice at 3:35, the four descending notes that begin this melody theme are played differently, giving us a connection back to the grimmer oboe theme.  A little bit of the ABA section keeps leaking through, even at the most angelic moments.

Segue back to the ABA section (5:08)

I'm going to label this part separately because it's just so magnificent.  There's a strange, strange little segue before we get back to the ABA section again.  The angelic theme... runs out of air.  It sighs.  It expires.  It fucking dies.  This is less like Beethoven, more like Mahler.

ABA section again (5:45)

We're back to the ABA.  If you pay attention, you can notice small changes here, small increases in ornamentation.  Otherwise, very similar to before.  

Until 7:43.  That's when things take a twist.  Instead of returning to the A part, suddenly, we're in CRISIS MODE!  At 8:05, we're back to conflicting 2-beat 3-beat rhythms as in the first movement.  The tension escalates.  And then...

Segue to the CDC (8:37)

 ... NOTHING!!!  

What the hell happened?  In some recordings, you might have to turn up the volume just to be sure there's nothing there.  The music ratcheted up towards a climax, left us hanging on a harsh, screechy chord (a dim7 chord)... And then nothing?  

There's a long rest here.  Very softly, a few plucked strings.  And then the violas emerge, slowly and softly, playing a more hopeful version of the oboe theme.  This acts as a segue to the

CDC (9:29)

The C section is back, but it has changed.  It's less confident.  There are anxious tweak noises from the violins.  The D section is more overwrought.  I'm not sure how this is written in the score, but Szell puts a lot more energy into this.

Segue back to ABA (11:11)

Again we segue back to ABA, but this segue is more gentle, less catastrophic.  

ABA (11:27)

We are back to ABA, but it is changed.  The tromping rhythm has vanished, for now.  The mood is somber, defeated.

At 13:03, there is another strong outburst, another display of some fight.  But the woodwinds come back each time and gently tamp it down, put it to rest, as if to say, "Why bother."

You can interpret this movement any number of ways, I'm sure.  The meaning is in the music.


Next week: We'll complete the Schubert Ninth Symphony.  The week after that, unless something intervenes, we'll do Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherezade.  

And I'm thinking of having a private fund-raiser.  For me.  Yes.  I'm THINKING of exploiting Dailykos's generous patronage by asking my few loyal readers to shell out some actual money to buy a contribution for your loyal diarist.  In particular, I WANT A NEW COFFEE CUP.  It seems unreasonable to have to write these things week after week without at least having a coffee cup.  I insist on a coffee cup!  Oh sure, Markos will say, First you ask for a coffee cup, then you'll set up a SuperPac, slippery slope, slippery slope...  Well, I'm not thinking that big at this time.  Just want a coffee cup.  I'll include full design specs in the next diary.  

Originally posted to Dumbo on Thu May 31, 2012 at 09:05 PM PDT.

Also republished by DKOMA, An Ear for Music, and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Slight quibble (6+ / 0-)

    The Barry Lyndon scene is set to the Trio in E-flat, op. 100, not the Trout Quintet.

    Thanks for taking us through one of my favorite pieces of music, Shubert's "Ninth." So quintessentially Shubert and yet really like nothing else he ever wrote, not even the Unfinished.

    •  Will fix that now. Thanks :) (4+ / 0-)
    •  While the music works after a fashion (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      to move the scene, I find the juxtaposition of the Late Classical/ Early Romantic E-flat trio with the Rococo of Barry Lyndon to be very jarring. But that could just be me.

      Necessity is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.-- Wm.Pitt the Younger

      by JeffSCinNY on Fri Jun 01, 2012 at 02:07:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Indeed it's anachronistic. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JeffSCinNY, bill warnick

        But that isn't the critical thing.  It's beauty and moonlit classical elegance.

        Milos Forman is the director who did Amadeus.  When he later made the Valmont (one of the film versions of Dangerous Liasons), he said that he deliberately chose not to use any Mozart.  However, he quickly ran into a problem because, as he discovered, there wasn't much chronologically appropriate music that was either up to the quality of Mozart OR proper for the film itself.  In his final film, he did okay, I think, but I can see the dilemma he had.

        Heh.  I just found this trivia fact on IMDB:

        Stanley Kubrick used to play the soundtrack's classical music during takes to get the actors in a better mood. He was reportedly influenced by Sergio Leone's method in Once Upon a Time in the West.
  •  Thanks for all your work! (8+ / 0-)

    I've enjoyed all of this series, (all authors included!)

    -7.25, -6.26

    We are men of action; lies do not become us.

    by ER Doc on Thu May 31, 2012 at 09:21:50 PM PDT

  •  Oh man, that is the hottest scene in Barry Lyndon (5+ / 0-)

    Absolutely a stunning film, great music throughout.  Here's another great scene:

    You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

    by Cartoon Peril on Thu May 31, 2012 at 09:29:16 PM PDT

  •  Thanks (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    martyc35, Dumbo, rl en france

    I didn't have a good connection, but having worn through several recordings (not a lot of pieces I have mulitple recordings of, but this is one) your description was just fabulous walk through what is one of the most fantastic pieces of music ever.

    Thanks for this series!

    Courtesy Kos. Trying to call on the better angels of our nature.

    by Mindful Nature on Thu May 31, 2012 at 10:41:03 PM PDT

  •  Thank you!! (4+ / 0-)

    I will be interested in the specs for the mug.

    I suspect without specs you might receive a great many mugs of all types from friends here at DKos as thank yous.  

    Join us at Bookflurries-Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

    by cfk on Thu May 31, 2012 at 10:47:00 PM PDT

    •  It must be capable of holding (5+ / 0-)

      hot liquids.  That's my first requirement.

      Also, preferably, no lead glaze, or any other illegal and toxic chemical glaze.  No plutonium glaze.  No asbestos glaze.  No arsenic glaze.

      Must be microwaveable.  Microwaveable WITHOUT melting.  Microwaveable WITH melting is definitely out.  That's what I have right now.

      Must have a handle which can accommodate at least two fingers.  Three fingers is preferable.  Four is overkill and beyond spec.

      That's all I have right now.  Still working on that.  I'll have diagrams showing where the coffee goes, that kind of thing.

      I hate finding out I don't know how to spell accomodate.  I used to be such a good speller.  It's always the ones with multiple double-letters that trip me up.  I get the first pair of double letters right, and then I go "Whew, that's over!" and forget the other ones.  How embarassing that is.  

  •  Oh, my goodness. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dumbo, rl en france

    I think I could hear the Mahler coming. Looking forward to next week's conclusion, but as always, I will pursue this further before then. I've never seen Barry Lyndon, so I'll probably get that from Netflix if they have it. This week's big music and film thrill for me was seeing the two-part French film  Jean de Florette/Manon of the Spring with a major theme from Verdi's La Forza del Destino but with the added treat of hearing Toots Thielemans play the Verdi theme throughout the first film on harmonica. The cast, filming, and needless to say, the music were all just mind-blowing.

    I can help on that cup, once you get it designed. Thank you for your analysis. It really helps.

    W. H. Auden: "We must love one another or die."

    by martyc35 on Fri Jun 01, 2012 at 12:01:25 AM PDT

    •  Forza del destino on harmonica. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      martyc35, rl en france

      Good idea, heh.

      I used to be very good on chromatic harmonica.  But then came the day I unscrewed it, opened it all up, and saw tiny nematodes crawling around on the bridgework.  I wondered how many of those I had inhaled.

      I used to eat bugs when I was a kid to impress other kids.  (Yes, that impresses other children when you are a very certain age.)  That's different.  Then, you KNOW you're eating a bug.  But discovering you've been inhaling little white wiggly things, and you don't know how many, ew...

      •  Oh my. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dumbo, martyc35, rl en france

        One wonders what lurks in the nether recesses of the horn section. I learned pretty quickly that the bleachers underneath the french horns was not a good place to catch a quick snog during a football game :-p

        "There's a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in". Leonard Cohen

        by northsylvania on Fri Jun 01, 2012 at 01:06:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I guess I'm fortunate not to have a wormy (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        harmonica, huh?

        Hey, I just listened to Schubert's 9th all the way through on a YT clip (Schubert Symphony.9 Sawallisch/Wiener Philharmoniker), and it seems to me that his background in folk music plays a big part, even in the symphony. All that march, march, march is as if in a forest full of elves or the like. Perhaps I'm over-interpreting, but that's how it strikes me, since it's so relentless all the way to the end. A beautiful work, and I will check in on Thursday to see what you do with the second half.

        Watching Dennis Potter's BBC Series, Pennies from Heaven with Bob Hoskins as (would be) song and dance man. I sure jump around in listening and viewing, but I always come back to classical or opera. This week is Puccini, Manon Lescaut, too.

        Sorry my mention of the French film sent you into such a terrible memory.

        W. H. Auden: "We must love one another or die."

        by martyc35 on Sat Jun 02, 2012 at 05:19:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I think "Great" is a translation error (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dumbo, msirt, JeffSCinNY

    It's probably from being called the "Große" Symphonie in C-Dur, as opposed to the "Kleine" ("Little") Fifth. It's supposed to be "Big," not "Great."

    Personally, I find it to be rather too much of a good thing. It's like the third movement of Beethoven's Seventh for an entire hour. (And that's probably my least favorite movement in ANY Beethoven Symphony.)

    •  Personally, I don't see the need (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      for the repeats with Schubert's Ninth, and prefer a performance without them, which fixes most of that issue.  

      It's interesting how LITTLE repetition there are in other parts of it, like the fantastic second movement.

      Still, it's a lot for one evening.  Breaking it up the first time you hear it makes it easier to process.

      •  The repeats make for a VERY LONG Scherzo (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Which you will cover next week, but I could listen to the trio of the scherzo forever! That music sound like one of his 16bar piano waltzes or Laendlers

        Necessity is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.-- Wm.Pitt the Younger

        by JeffSCinNY on Fri Jun 01, 2012 at 03:18:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  "Great" vs "große" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dumbo, bill warnick

      I think it's just a foible of English that the  word "great" carries both a quantitative ("large") value, as well as a qualitative ("excellent, superb") value.

      The German word große lacks the qualitative meaning. To reflect that, one would have to have named it the "hervorragend" or something like that. I think "grand" would be the intended and best characterization, as in "Große fugue". At least I've always taken the title that way.

      Not to say the symphony is not a "great" one.

      Evolution IS Intelligent Design!

      by msirt on Fri Jun 01, 2012 at 10:41:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  "Grosse" can be both big or great depending on (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      context. We don't think of Friedrich der Grosse  as Fredrick the Big.

      Necessity is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.-- Wm.Pitt the Younger

      by JeffSCinNY on Fri Jun 01, 2012 at 02:10:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  thanks, dumbo (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dumbo, JeffSCinNY

    i've never heard Schubert's 9th. In fact I have never paid much attention to Schubert till a few weeks ago when visiting our youngest son.
    He and his 7 year old daughter are taking singing lessons from a student - an opera student- and he arranged a little concert for us at his home. The opera singer is a light soprano and sang Mozart's Hallelujah and a few arias and also Panis Anjelicus.
    And then I heard the most beautiful song - written by Schubert!
    It was my favorite in the concert. The piano accompanist told me that this Schubert song is the first Schubert song that students generally sing and I was blown away.

    So I am looking forward to slowly listening to this symphony.
    How sad that Schubert died at 31.

    Finally people have gotten sick and tired of being had and taken for idiots. Mikhail Gorbachev

    by eve on Fri Jun 01, 2012 at 06:54:20 AM PDT

  •  Fabulous job as usual. That time in history (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the early eighteen hundreds, that is, has been called 'The Birth of the Modern" and indeed a very good historical account of it has been written and that I have planned to diary at some future point. Because it really was. The birth of the modern, that is. Mass transit was just one aspect of how the world changed and became modern.

    Here is my virtual contribution


    Thanks for turning me on to Schubert

    An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head. -- Eric Hoffer

    by MichiganChet on Fri Jun 01, 2012 at 07:08:19 AM PDT

    •  When I was researching Berlioz's (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Amber6541, JeffSCinNY, JKTownsend

      Symphonie Fantastique for the diary on that last week, I found a site that had a chronology of technological accomplishments.  I wanted to see what was happening in Europe contemporaneously with Beethoven's Ninth (1824) to the Symphonie Fantastique (1830).  And I saw the birth of the locomotive transportation system in 1830.  That's a biggie!  The locomotive had been invented some 30 years ago and gone through many iterations.  The first real rail lines with adhesion-based steam locomotives didn't come along until 1830, when they built the first rail lines to get coal to the ports... and found out almost instantly they could make more money by ferrying people than coal.

      My dead grandmother was born in 1889.  I was always impressed to think that she was born before cars were ubiquitous and before planes were even thought a serious possibility and when rockets to outer space were an incommunicable concept.  Try to imagine a world without trains, and what a huge historical and cultural dividing line that would make, to be one of those born before trains, and those after.

      •  Yes, by 1900 (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dumbo, Amber6541, JKTownsend

        We had trains, the first cars, modern forms of dress, instant communications via the telegraph and telephone, big industrial cities and (unfortunately) many of the modern weapons of war. None of this did we have in 1800. So it is impressive to think how the world has changed since 1900, but even more impressive, I believe - and the choo-choo train is very much a part of that - to think of being around in 1900 and think how the workd changed since 1800
           It reminds me of a line I read in a biography of Lewis and Clark, something to the effect that in 1803 when they started, humanity had never moved on land faster than the trot of a horse and most people thought they never would.

        An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head. -- Eric Hoffer

        by MichiganChet on Fri Jun 01, 2012 at 08:16:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  This was also the period of scientific discovery (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dumbo, bill warnick

        I think of Faraday, Oersted, Gauss, to name a few.

        Necessity is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.-- Wm.Pitt the Younger

        by JeffSCinNY on Fri Jun 01, 2012 at 03:03:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Schubert actually died on 19 Nov 1828. Anyway, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dumbo, JKTownsend

    I'd rate the Ninth as the greatest symphony between Beethoven's Ninth and Brahms's First.  

    •  I'd go with "Symphonie fantastique" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      More original and groundbreaking than Schubert's Ninth. I might also stick the Unfinished in there, too.

      •  You may be right, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        But one thing sets Schubert apart from Berlioz and the first generation Romantics, is  that he is trying to create a symphony in the Viennese classical tradition, while using a Romantic melodic form, while Berlioz was trying to make something entirely different.

        Necessity is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.-- Wm.Pitt the Younger

        by JeffSCinNY on Fri Jun 01, 2012 at 03:08:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I'd call Symphonie Fantastique more original. (0+ / 0-)

        Original in its own direction.  But Schubert Ninth far away the greater work.  It's the best of the post-Beethoven symphonies until Brahms 1st came along.  And Brahms never did anything as dramatically intense as the Schubert Ninth.

  •  recommended versions? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffSCinNY, JKTownsend, Dumbo

    Great diary.

    What recorded versions of Schubert 9 do people enjoy most?  Here's a rundown of the ones I know:

    Furtwangler/BPO (studio, DG): powerful, expressive
    Munch/BSO (RCA): lithe, energetic
    Szell/Cleveland (Sony): athletic, precise
    Karajan/BPO (1965, DG): "a tour of chromium heaven" - famous Gramophone review quip; powerful, very bright
    Giulini/CSO (DG): slow, epic, rich
    Gardiner/VPO (DG): like Szell, better recorded, a bit tame though

    Out of those, it's hard to say which is the frontrunner.  I suppose Furtwangler for that dionysian touch, and Munch for a more classical approach.  Karajan's is quite something, but the digital transfer I have is very bright indeed.

    Any others that I need to hear?

  •  When I performed this symphony ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JKTownsend, Dumbo

    .... (tympany part), the bassoonist in the orchestra pointed out to me what may be a numerical melody game Schubert was playing.  It had to do with the fact that principal melodies in all 4 movements reflected the numbered movement they were in by repetitions of the same note (corresponding to which numbered movt.).

    Let me try to explain:

    Movt. I, opening horn theme:

    DUM da da dah da DUM:  the "DUM" being a single note set apart from the rest of the tune. 1 = 1st Movt.

    Movt. II: Oboe theme:

    Dum da-da, da-da, da-da da dat dat DUM DUM: 2 very obvious repeated notes at the end, set apart, as was the one in movt. I. Thats 2 for Movt. 2

    Movt III, Scherzo, main theme in low strings:

    da da da da DUM DUM DUM, da da da da da da dum: Ah three repeated notes set apart, for Movt III.

    Movt IV Finale, second theme:

    DUM DUM DUM DUM da da da-da da da da da: Well, whadda' ya know. 4 isolated repeated notes. Why not, it's movt IV, ain't it.

    Just a coincidence? Hmmmm.

    Evolution IS Intelligent Design!

    by msirt on Fri Jun 01, 2012 at 10:05:58 AM PDT

  •  Poignant yet provocative (4+ / 0-)

     Schubert's Ninth is a timeless achievement.  It strikes me as truly poignant that he did not seek to have music this great published because he felt it would seem a poor effort aside Beethoven's music.    I suspect even at his most imperious Ludwig would have found that a tragic turn of events.

       Yet, Schubert wrote on anyway - composed even knowing he would do naught more than put the score in a desk.   It begs a question - what drives genius to publish, compose, paint.  

       Thanks Dumbo great stuff as always.


  •  I'm with you on the Great C Major Symphony. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffSCinNY, Dumbo, chingchongchinaman

    And it's always been connected with Beethoven's 7th in my mind, although I never analyzed why. Both stupendous, in a peculiarly transcendant way.

    I have read somewhere that Schubert's 9th Symphony was discovered and rescued from a trunk of papers, which the landlord of the recently deceased composer was about to sell to a scrap paper merchant to cover some unpaid rent.

  •  Heavenly length (3+ / 0-)

    I love this piece too. My favorite conductor of it is Furtwängler! I have several recordings by him of it.

  •  late reply; you really need a coffee mug? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Have heard FS's Great C a few times live, probably the best of them Emmanuel Krivine with the local band back in '04.  It's a killer work for the string players, especially the last movement.

    BTW, I have loads of extra coffee mugs :) .

    "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

    by chingchongchinaman on Sat Jun 02, 2012 at 12:17:57 PM PDT

    •  Yup. Need a coffee mug. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      And I'm particular and cranky about mugs.  I hate that I can never get the right mug.

      •  oh, then you might not want..... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ......any of my extras.  BTW, the last Schubert 9 I heard was this season in town, with Stanislaw Skrowaczewski conducting.  Krivine's was still better, but given that Skrowaczewski is 88, not to be too morbid, I figured that this might be "last chance to see".

        "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

        by chingchongchinaman on Sat Jun 02, 2012 at 11:46:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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