Retelling the “Unfinished”

Joseph Kerman

in Returning Cycles

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 2001 | ISBN: 9780520225640
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520925786 | DOI:
Retelling the “Unfinished”

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This chapter begins the discussion of the “Unfinished” Symphony with the transition between the two thematic groups of the Andante and with the crisis in the first movement's development that this transition so explicitly recalls. The specificity of this link between the two movements makes it an essential clue for understanding the cyclic relationships between them. Because it is so specific, and because it occurs in the “Wanderer” key, the link may also be an equally essential clue for understanding how the “Wanderer” Fantasy responds, in the compositional issues it raises, to the symphony. The symphony's second movement answers to its first as part of a subtly and elaborately cyclic conception—a conception that Schubert obviously did not bring to the completion he initially envisaged for it. Possibly he could not, perhaps because he could not imagine a finale that would both engage the memory of the earlier movements and match them in expressive range. Or possibly he decided, at some point, that any continuation would do violence to the music he had already composed—would begin to “un tell” a story he had already told fully enough.

Keywords: Unfinished Symphony; Schubert; Andante; transition; cyclic relationships; Wanderer Fantasy

Chapter.  8167 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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