Franz Schubert – Fantasie in F Minor

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Painting by Alex Katsenelson

Today I wanted to share Fantasie in F Minor by Austrian composer Franz Schubert.  Schubert lived a very short life: when he was 25 he contracted syphilis, and at the time syphilis was a treacherous, painful death sentence (just like AIDS 20 years ago).  He died at the tender age of 32.

Just imagine a young man age 25, his life supposedly lying ahead of him, but instead he is staring death in the face.  Understandably, Schubert was depressed.  You can hear this depression in his music; it is full of melancholy.

Schubert was an addict: he was addicted to composing.  In the sixteen years of his creative life he wrote over a thousand songs, 9 symphonies, 22 piano sonatas, 17 operas, over a thousand works for piano, and many other works.  Most composers were not able to accomplish as much in a full natural lifetime.

Schubert was a very mediocre pianist.  Where Sergei Rachmaninoff or Franz Liszt were virtuoso pianists and thus their piano music was very demanding of a performer’s technical skills, for Schubert the piano was just a vessel to communicate his music and nothing more.

This Fantasie is a great example of that.  It is written for a piano and four hands (or two mediocre pianists).  This is speculation on my part, but if Liszt or Rachmaninoff had written this piece it would have been for two hands (or one virtuoso pianist).  In this observation, I am not trying to detract anything from Schubert – quite the opposite – but I feel these small glimpses into composers’ lives help me to understand and relate better to their music.

Fantasie in F Minor, Franz Schubert – piano, Lucas & Arthur Jussen

As a bonus, Schubert’s Impromptu Op. 90 No. 4


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