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Thesis 1

Thesis Title: Schubert's Chamber Music as a Road towards the Symphony
Degree Type: MLitt
Supervisor(s): Dr Lorraine Byrne Bodley
Thesis Status: Accepted
Date Submitted / Accepted: January 2009
Institution Submitting / Submitted To: NUI, Maynooth
Thesis Location / Link: NUI Maynooth Library
Abstract: In March 1824 Schubert wrote that he intended to pave his way to a ‘grand symphony’ with the composition of certain ‘preparatory’ chamber works. Robert Winter commented on the marked difference in character between these chamber works and the ‘Great’ C major Symphony they are commonly believed to have been a preparation for; arguing that the symphony could have been composed without the intercession of such preparatory ventures. In this thesis it is argued that Schubert used the chamber works of 1824 to continue to explore a compositional concern which had occupied him since the Quartettsatz, namely the efficiency of traditional minor-key sonata form rhetoric as a dialectic process. This thesis demonstrates how Schubert investigated this concern through a number of works that, by virtue of their successive contributions and individual triumphs, gained a preparatory quality that could in no way diminish their status as complete, self-sufficient works. The findings of this course of inquiry suggest the likelihood that the ‘Great’ C major Symphony was perhaps not the ‘grand symphony’ Schubert envisioned in 1824. It is shown to be a work which could not benefit from many of the concerns pursued and discoveries made in the ‘preparatory’ works. What is more, the condition which rendered it so independent from the chamber works was most likely the result of Schubert’s conscious reaction to the influence of Beethoven’s Vienna.

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Current Institution Affiliation: NUI, Maynooth
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