Schubert Rosamunde Quartett Analysis Essay

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  • Franz Schubert
  • Franz Peter Schubert
  • “Ihr Bild,” Schwanengesang, D 957, No. 9 is composed by Franz Schubert
  • Octet in F major, D 803 is composed by Franz Schubert
  • Piano Quintet in A major, D 667 (“Trout”) is composed by Franz Schubert
  • Piano Sonata in A major, D 959 is composed by Franz Schubert
  • Piano Sonata in A minor, D 784, Op. 143 is composed by Franz Schubert
  • Piano Sonata in A minor, D 845, Op. 42 is composed by Franz Schubert
  • Piano Sonata in B major, D 575, Op. 147 is composed by Franz Schubert
  • Piano Sonata in Bb major, D 960 is composed by Franz Schubert
  • Piano Sonata in C minor, D 958 is composed by Franz Schubert
  • Piano Sonata in D major, D 850, Op. 53 is composed by Franz Schubert
  • Piano Sonata in G major, D 894, Op. 78 is composed by Franz Schubert
  • Piano Trio in B-flat major, D 898 is composed by Franz Schubert
  • Piano Trio in E-flat major, D 929 is composed by Franz Schubert
  • Schwanengesang, D 957 is composed by Franz Schubert
  • song “Gretchen am Spinnrade” is composed by Franz Schubert
  • String Quartet in A minor, D. 804 is composed by Franz Schubert
  • String Quartet in C minor, D703 (“Quartettsatz”) is composed by Franz Schubert
  • String Quartet in D minor, D 810 (“Death and the Maiden”) is composed by Franz Schubert
  • String Quartet in G major, D 887 is composed by Franz Schubert
  • String Quintet in C major, D 956 is composed by Franz Schubert
  • Symphony No. 8 in B minor, D 759 (“Unfinished”) is composed by Franz Schubert
  • Symphony No. 9 in C major, D 944 (“Great”) is composed by Franz Schubert
  • Winterreise is composed by Franz Schubert
  • Sonata in A minor for arpeggione and piano (“Arpeggione”) is composed by Franz Schubert
  • 36 Originaltänze (Erste Walzer), Op. 9 (D. 365) is composed by Franz Schubert
  • “Der Doppelgänger,” Schwanengesang, D 957, No. 13 is composed by Franz Schubert
  • Waltz in A-flat major is composed by Franz Schubert
  • Impromptu in C minor, D 899, No. 1 is composed by Franz Schubert
  • Impromptu in G-flat major, D 899, No. 3 is composed by Franz Schubert
  • Impromptu in C A-flat major, D 899, No. 4 is composed by Franz Schubert
  • Moment Musical in F minor, D 780, No. 3 is composed by Franz Schubert
  • Symphony No. 5 in Bb major is composed by Franz Schubert
  • Mass in Ab major is composed by Franz Schubert
  • Rosamunde music is composed by Franz Schubert
  • Die Zwillingsbrüder is composed by Franz Schubert
  • Die schöne Müllerin is composed by Franz Schubert
  • Stabat mater is composed by Franz Schubert
  • Die Forelle is composed by Franz Schubert
  • Divertissement à l’hongroise is composed by Franz Schubert
  • Mirjams Siegesgesang is composed by Franz Schubert
  • Overture in D “in the Italian Style,” D 590 is composed by Franz Schubert
  • Overture in C “in the Italian Style,” D 591 is composed by Franz Schubert
  • Six grandes marches, D 819, piano four hands is composed by Franz Schubert
  • An den Mond is composed by Franz Schubert
  • An den Tod is composed by Franz Schubert
  • Fünf Menuette mit sechs Trios is composed by Franz Schubert
  • 12 Valses nobles, D 969 is composed by Franz Schubert
  • Symphony No. 4 in C minor, D 417 (“Tragic”) is composed by Franz Schubert
  • Symphony No. 3 in D major, D 200 is composed by Franz Schubert
  • Symphony No. 7 in E major, D 729 is composed by Franz Schubert
  • Symphony No. 6 in C major, D589 is composed by Franz Schubert

In the opening of Schubert's

Rosamunde String Quartet in A minor,

the first violin plays a long,

winding, and emotion-laden melody.

But the mood is really set even

before his voice appears,

by the gently flowing notes

of the second violin,

and almost ominous pulsating rhythm

of viola and cello.

The choice of tempo is so important.

Too slow, and the music will sag. Too fast,

and it can sound flippant.

The melody itself begins with an

aching melancholy. How can the first

violinist capture this?

Vibrato, the string player's great

asset, will play a large part

in expressing this.

The choice of width and speed

of vibrato is extremely

important. How fast or slow. How wide

or narrow. Of course, the beauty of

it all is that

every violinist will have a different

take on this.

Soon after the melody is underway,

there is a high point--a kind of gasp

in the music--followed by yet another,

that must reinforce the first.

Time for a decision on how to

differentiate the two.

Perhaps that second gasp should be

even more emphatic

than the first, in order to convey the

anguish of this moment.

This is one example of phrasing.

That is, the performer's never-ending

necessity to shape music coherently.

And at one point,

the three lower voices cease playing

briefly, and a string of upward rising

notes played by the first violin leads

into a change from

minor to major key. And with it, a surprise change of mood

from despair to hope, and even the

possibility of happiness.

But in any case,

a remarkable moment in music.

The violinist must somehow get

just the right amount

of suppleness to this transition,

but also capture the surprise--

the sweetness of this heart-stopping

moment. Schubert may have

drawn inspiration for this melody from

two earlier songs of his.

It's not a bad idea for a violinist

to try to forget he or she is playing

this sublime melody

on a instrument, and simply

imagine it being sung.

Arnold aptly drew the connection between

Schubert's songs

and this Rosamunde string quartet.

There's a famous song by Schubert called

"Gretchen at the Spinning Wheel,"

in which this young woman, Gretchen, sits

at a spinning wheel spinning out thread.

And she uses a pedal that she

presses to rotate

this wheel. This wheel is meant

to depict not only her sorrow, but her obsession

for Doctor Faust. It's always

some set of complex emotions here at play.

And this is what the accompanimental

figure sounds like.

[MUSIC]

Now, this figure is presented for two full measures

before Gretchen starts to sing her song.

And we have a very similar concept

at play here in the beginning of

the Rosamunde String Quartet.

The second violin plays this

haunting and sorrowful

accompanimental figure, before

the first violin arrives

with its gorgeous tune.

[MUSIC]

In this accompanimental figure,

we clearly hear the sorrowful nature

of this music. It's cast in

the key of A minor. But this rotating sorrow

is not obsessive, but in this case more

haunting.

The very beginning of this string

quartet is presented

in A minor. In A minor, it's a triad of three pitches.

A, [PLAYS NOTE]

C, [PLAYS NOTE]

and E. [PLAYS NOTE]

The third degree of C [PLAYS]

is lowered in this triad, and that's why

it sounds minor.

And this is how the melody goes.

[MUSIC]

The first violin then repeats the melody,

and then starts to change it.

it rises with a sense of yearning and

urgency. And then all of a sudden, we

hear something entirely

different. We hear this rising scale.

Almost a sign of hope that's to come.

And it sounds like this.

[PLAYS]

Next, the melody will be presented in

A major. But this time, it'll take a

different direction. It'll start to rise,

and give us a sense of potential hope.

This is what it sounds like.

[MUSIC]

But guess what? We don't stay

in the key of A major, but we're suddenly interrupted

with the return of A minor.

[PLAYS]

And so there you have it.

This modal ambiguity. Mixed modes.

First in minor, then to major, and back

to minor. This passage has been aptly

described as Schubert

smiling through tears. I think it's very appropriate.

We have this combination of deep sorrow,

but yet a yearning for some future hope.

Now, let's listen

to this excerpt from the first movement

of the Rosamunde String Quartet

by Schubert.

[MUSIC]

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