Dear Members and Friends of the Sydney Schubert Society,
Our forthcoming Schubertiade 356 (August 25–2.30pm at St Peters Presbyterian Church) focuses on music of yearning and departure-a romantic concept and one that is so central to Schubert’s music. Schubert’s musical metaphors of distance are in any case fascinating: They seem fairly straight forward when we consider them through the text of his “Lieder”–the Schubertiade on August 25 will allow us to do that as it features songs that articulate ideas of arrival, departure, yearning and distance: Willkommen und Abschied D 767, Im Frühling D 882, Bei DirAllein D 866, Schiffers Scheidelied D 910, Sehnsucht D 516, Abschied D 957.
However, it is even more intriguing how Schubert realises such ideas metaphorically in wordless music and we will explore this in the Schubertiade within two well-known string quartets (D 804, D 810). The first movement of the A minor Quartet D 804 (Rosamunde Quartet) is a good example for our theme: Schubert sets up a narrative frame at the beginning of the work with a collaboration between the second violin, viola and cello. The frame conjures up the association of a street organ (including an imitation of its cranking mechanism in the viola and cello parts). The reference to a “Leiermann” (“Die Winterreise”) seems unmistakable with the first violin entering as the narrator of a story of despair and yearning. The melody confirms harmonic expectation for some time (minor key) before turning to a suggestion of major and establishing a perspective of hopeful distance only to return to the inevitable plot shortly thereafter. This narrative of perspectivism is characteristic for Schubert and often realised through the ambivalent juxtaposition of major and minor mode. It is perhaps a direct consequence of (or reason for) Schubert’s consistent turn towards poetry and Lieder as well.
An additional way to establish distance is through self-reference. Schubert refers to his own music on occasion (as in the C major Fantasy) with his most famous instance perhaps being the Quartet in d minor D 810. Here and in its second movement Schubert writes variations on a “Lied” (D 531) composed in 1817 using a text by Mathias Claudius-a simple two verse dialogue between a maiden and death itself. It is a statement of ultimate departure and Schubert uses the piano accompaniment from the lied as his variation theme in this quartet. Naturally, these two brief examples serve as an introduction to a fascinating topic which will be explored in depth on August 25.
I am very pleased to welcome to this Schubertiade baritone Michael Halliwell and pianist Jeanell Carrigan who will perform the Schubert Lieder for us. I will be joined by violinist Mathias Boegner (a long-time friend and former fellow student in Munich, currently Professor for violin and chamber music in Beijing), violist Charlotte Fetherston and cellist Minah Choe to form the Schubert Ensemble in a performance of the quartets in d (D 810) and a (D 804).
Following the Schubertiade on August 25, the Schubert Society will hold its Annual General Meeting to receive reports and elect office bearers for the coming year. All financial members of the society are invited to attend.
I hope you and your friends and family will be able to attend this Schubertiade where we will explore this very Schubertian theme of departure and yearning further.
I look forward to seeing you there and remain with warm regards,
President, Sydney Schubert Society Inc.