Rehearsals are well underway for our upcoming concert, Mainly Schubert, and excitement is building at the NFO as we prepare to perform music from this great composer. An Austrian composer from the late classical/early romantic period, Schubert was only 31 years of age at the time of his death. Despite his short lifetime he left behind a huge number of extremely highly-rated musical works — art songs, piano works, chamber music and symphonies in addition to sacred choral works, operas and incidental music for the stage, however, he was predominately known as a composer of song in his own lifetime. In a way it is strange that we are left with little in the way of remnants of Schubert’s considerable efforts in the Theatre. He composed quite a few Singspiel Operas (musical numbers separated by passages of dialogue) and sacred Oratorios which are rarely, if ever, performed. Maybe he was unlucky or poor at choosing collaborators? Contrast this with the fact that his other vocal works (i.e. Lieder and late Song Cycles such as Die Schoene Mullerin (The Fair Maid of the Mill) and Winterreise (Winter Journey)) are widely considered to be absolute masterpieces.
It is interesting that much of Schubert’s music was performed solely in intimate gatherings of friends and adherents, and in fact only one public concert took place in his lifetime. None of his orchestral works had been published or performed. After his death, various musicians (Mendelssohn, Schumann, Liszt, Brahms and even Arthur Sullivan) did much to bring his music to the attention of the public and music publishers and raise it to the ranking it now has today. On Saturday 30 March we feature his Unfinished Symphony, plus some reminders of his musical interest in the stage and their possible links.