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© 2018 by Sydney Schubert Society Inc. Images courtesy of Ranui Young Photography


July 2014

July 1, 2014


Dear Friends and Members of the Sydney Schubert Society,


Our next Schubertiade 361on August 10 2014 (commencing at 2.30pm at St. Peters Presbyterian Church in North  Sydney)  is  dedicated to the  complex question of Schubert and  the  guitar. Given some evidence  that Schubert may have owned perhaps  one-or  even  two  guitars, some intriguing questions emerge: Did Schubert play the guitar or even use it to compose? Did he envisage versions for some of his Lieder or piano works involving guitar as some  of  the traditional and flexible musical practice of  his  time suggests? Anton Stadler,  Schubert’s classmate  at  the  seminary,  confirms  that  Schubert  composed using  neither  guitar  nor piano. However, a historical guitar made by Johann Georg Stauffer contains a note from 1870 by one Anton Schmid  as  follows: “This guitar was  given  to  me  in  1858  by  my  music  teacher  Ferdinand  Schubert,  being inherited from his brother Franz, Vienna, June 1870.” Why would Schubert own a guitar and not attempt to play  it?  After  all,  many of  his  friends  (Hüttenbrenner, Mayrhofer  and  Vogl) evidently did  so. A 19th century picture reproduced in  the  1938  Oxford  Companion  to  Music even  shows Schubert playing a guitar–this  is rejected by scholars as a fictional circumstance, though.


Whatever our view might be on whether Schubert played the guitar or not,the facts are that the guitar was a popular and  convenient instrument in  the  Vienna  of  the  Biedermeier.  Composers such  as  Giuliani, Matiegka,  Molitor (and later Mertz) added  to  its  popularity in  Vienna and  progressed technical innovation and  artistic  imagination in Schubert’s realm. In  addition  the  Viennese  guitar  maker Johann  Georg Stauffer plays an important role in this question: He invented the Arpeggione, a bowed guitar-violoncello with frets, around  1823. Schubert  wrote  his  important Sonata  in  A  major D  821 as  a commission by a friend, Vincent Schuster for  this  instrument and  it appears that  Stauffer,  Schubert  and  Schuster  were  closely  acquainted. Schuster  wrote  a  method for  this  instrument  in  1825.  To  compose  for  the “cello-guitar”,  Schubert  would have needed to   be   familiar   with   the   instrument   and   its   guitar-like   tuning   and chromatic fingering possibilities.


Our  Schubertiade  on  August  10  will try  to  tell more  of  the intriguing story  of  Schubert  and  the  guitar:  the program features the guitarist Bradley Kunda who performswith soprano Rebecca McCallion and members of the Sydney Schubert Ensemble original works by Giuliani and Mertz, three 19th century arrangements of Schubert Lieder by Coste, Schuberts early arrangement of Wenzel Matiegka’s quartet for guitar, flute, viola and cello (D 96) and Schubert’s “Arpeggione” Sonata in an arrangement for viola and guitar.


A  reminder at  this  point, that our Schubertiade will  be  followed  by  the Schubert  Society’s  Annual  General Meeting for  2014.  Current  financial members of  the  Schubert  Society  are  warmly  invited  to  attend.


I  look forward to welcoming you and your friends to our next Schubertiade 361 with its fascinating focus on Franz Schubert and the guitar,


With cordial, Schubertian greetings,


Goetz Richter President,

Sydney Schubert Society Inc.

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