Expanding the Scope of Schubertian Tonality

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:
Expanding the Scope of Schubertian Tonality

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Schubert wrote out the four pieces known as the opus 90 impromptus in a single manuscript and first submitted them for publication in this form. This chapter suggests that the initial search in the fourth impromptu for both tonality and theme, and the first emergence of that theme as a distant horn call, create an apt context for the return of “Der Wanderer” in the impromptu's trio. In the opus 90 impromptus, Schubert's first instrumental work composed under the spell of Winterreise, an association between the winter cycle's protagonist and that of “Der Wanderer” thus already becomes apparent. The echoes of “Der Wanderer” in the trio of the A♭-Major Impromptu suggest a return to loneliness and alienation—not to the utter desolation of Winterreise, but instead to the kind of loneliness still activated by personal feeling from which the “Wanderer” Fantasy has shown a way out. In relationship to the alienation of Winterreise, that of “Der Wanderer” is animated as if in a return of spring, a thawing of the frozen landscape that allows for a resurgence of conscious feeling. In this way, the last of the opus 90 impromptus, in drawing on the gestures and textures of “Der Wanderer,” throws off the aura of Winterreise that still pervades the first.

Keywords: Schubert; opus 90; Winterreise; Der Wanderer; impromptus

Chapter.  7680 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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