Schubert's Last “Wanderer”

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:
Schubert's Last “Wanderer”

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In the Andante sostenuto of the B♭-Major Sonata, the sudden, quiet turn to C major in the last section is a transfixing moment. After an A-major middle section that recalls the first movement both thematically and texturally, the somber C♯-minor theme of this slow movement returns. The ostinato has derived a new rhythmic figure and a new sense of urgency from the accompanimental sixteenths of the middle section. The chords that cling closely to the slow, almost unadorned melody still impart to it their quiet intensity, while the new ostinato continues to create a sense of an open, empty space into which the melody resonates as a lonely, searching song. For thirteen measures the theme stays the same, melodically and harmonically, as it was the first time. Then, suddenly, instead of moving to its relative major, E, as it did before, it shifts to C major. The C-major passage proves to be a turning point: its melody returns at the end to transform the C♯-minor ending into the major, as if the effect of the C-major passage has been to show a way out of the minor. This moment at the sonata's center, so extraordinary in itself as to seem self-justifying, therefore has far-reaching import, affecting both the subsequent course of its own movement and the thematic character of the concluding movement.

Keywords: Schubert; Andante sostenuto; C major

Chapter.  7986 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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