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:

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This book has traced a compositional and expressive trajectory that draws Schubert's instrumental music into the resolution of an imaginary narrative of his personal as well as his artistic life, a narrative which he could probably not bring to any fulfilled resolution by other means. Schubert not only inscribed one of his most famous songs into the fantasy; by doing so he also inscribed himself into it, and, by finding a home for its Fremdling protagonist, carried an implicit narration of his own life to a first utopian resolution. It requires no great imaginative leap to surmise a self-inscription of the same kind in the “Unfinished” Symphony of the month before. The Andante of the symphony draws its key and its theme, only somewhat less pointedly, from the preceding stanza of the same song. The character and course of the music of the symphony suggest a narrative that is even more powerful than the one suggested by the fantasy: one not merely of estrangement and homecoming, but of death and transfiguration.

Keywords: Schubert; instrumental music; Unfinished Symphony; fantasy

Chapter.  5296 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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