BMC Artist Faculty II
Monday, July 3, 2017 @ 7:30 p.m.
Scott Concert Hall at the Porter Center
SCHUBERT Rondo for Piano Four-Hands in A major
SCHUBERT Arpeggione Sonata
BEETHOVEN Septet in E flat major
Overture Program Information
Artist Information (Show)
Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
Rondo in A major for Piano 4-Hands, D. 951
Probably no other composer wrote more masterworks in his final year than did Franz Schubert. The list includes his Trio in E flat major, the Fantasy for Violin and Piano, his ”Great” C minor Symphony, the String Quintet, his final three piano sonatas, and his Schwanengesang cycle. So it is easy to overlook his music for piano four-hands. Yet in April he wrote his Fantasy in F minor, in May the Allegro in A minor, and in June the Rondo in A major.
Piano music for four-hands had a social function, as the music was intended for talented amateurs to play at home—for the enjoyment of both performer and listener. Yet there is nothing “amateurish” about the Rondo. It is sublime music, written for seasoned performers. His expansive sonata rondo design also goes beyond simple music for the home. Rather, Schubert creates a one-movement work of symphonic dimensions.
Sonata in A minor, D. 821, "Arpeggione"
This sonata has an odd performance history. It is not clear why Schubert wrote this sonata. Some people think that it was commissioned by his friend Vincenz Schuster, while others suggest that he was simply intrigued by the newly invented bowed six-string guitar like instrument called the "arpeggione." If the arpeggione ever was in vogue, its popularity was very short-lived. In fact, Schubert’s Sonata is the only masterwork written for the instrument. Ironically, Schubert’s Arpeggione Sonata was not published until 1871. Yet its success gave the by then “dead” instrument its name. Not surprisingly, this sonata “sings,” as Schubert’s unmatched sense of melody creates a work of stunning beauty. Composed in 1824, this sonata represents his mature, Romantic style.
Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Septet in E flat major, Op. 20
Premiered on April 2, 1800 in Vienna.
Based on the sheer number of arrangements, the Septet might be considered Beethoven’s most popular work. During the composer’s lifetime, we find arrangements for piano four-hands, piano quartet, piano trio, solo piano, and even for two guitars. The continued popularity of this (at least in Beethoven’s mind) rather conventional work irked the composer greatly—especially since the Septet was premiered together with his First Symphony. What made this work so popular?
The Septet is conceived as a divertimento—lighter fare for evening entertainment. Beethoven was still new in Vienna, and he wanted to present himself in the best possible light. As an indication of the young composer's ambitions, he dedicated the work to Empress Maria Theresa. In six movements, Beethoven showcases everything he has learned from studying Mozart’s music, creating a sparkling work Mozart himself would have been proud of. The Septet is one of Beethoven’s finest “classical” works. Beethoven had brilliantly fulfilled his task of drawing attention to himself as composer. Of course, Beethoven was well on his path toward Romanticism—hence his frustrations with a great work that would quickly no longer represent his compositional ideals.
- Siegwart Reichwald