Franz Schubert can be said to be composer of both the Late Classical era as well as the Early Romantic. Schubert’s style can be seen in his first string quartet, String Quartet No. 1, with his fondness for the use of tremolo in the strings and his wide-ranging key relationships. This piece fits right on the line between the late Classical era and Romantic era. There are Classical elements within this piece such as the clear theme and how the melody is heard in all voices – each voice is important which is similar to how Mozart composed. Schubert explored new musical territory in his string quartets and wrote a total of 15 throughout his life.
Schubert’s String Quartet No. 1, Presto Vivace has many elements of the classical style as previously stated. There is a clear theme first played in the first violin then the second violin comes in with the theme (sort of like a round). Finally the viola comes in with the theme. The cello plays eighth notes and keeps the pulse. The simple accompaniment seen in the cello part for the first eight measures is a style found in the classical era. All the instruments then brake into a tremolo in measure 9, which was a favorite feature of Schubert’s. This piece also explores frequent key modulations/relationships. In the first 40 seconds of listening to the piece, it seems to jump from minor to major then back to minor in just a matter of one measure. This seems to be an aspect of the Romantic era and that is why this piece sits right on the line of crossing from late Classical to Romantic.
Comparing Schubert’s String Quartet No. 1, Presto Vivace to one of his later quartets, his String Quartet in C minor, D. 703, one can hear similarities but also vast differences. First of all, Schubert’s String Quartet in C minor is obviously in the early Romantic era. It is full of emotion, intense, and has a very virtuosic feel. Both quartets though have Schubert’s musical style in them such as lots of tremolos in the all the string parts and the musical exploration in various keys. But one obviously belongs in the early Romantic era while the other is still going between both the late Classical and early Romantic. These two pieces are great examples why Schubert is considered a composer who transition between both musical eras/styles.
I really enjoyed listening to Schubert’s String Quartet No. 1, Presto Vivace. I had never heard it before. It was hard to distinguish the Classical elements from the Romantic elements for me because the style of the piece sounded very Romantic to me. I wouldn’t mind playing this piece in a quartet – sounds like fun!
Works Cited Edit
Burkholder, J. Peter, Donald Jay Grout, and Claude V. Palisca. A History of Western Music. Eighth Edition. (W.W. Norton and Company, New York, New York). 2010.
Crocker, Richard. A History of Musical Style. McGraw-Hill Book Company. 1966.
Franz Schubert – String Quartets. “Franz Peter Schubert.” Accessed April 2, 2014. http://www.franzpeterschubert.com/string_quartets.html
Schubert, Franz. String Quartet No. 1, D. 18. Score. IMSLP. Accessed April 2, 2014. http://javanese.imslp.info/files/imglnks/usimg/0/00/IMSLP03643-SchubertStringQuartetNo1.pdf
“Schubert String Quartet No. 1, D. 18.” Youtube Video. Posted by “jasquilaria.” Uploaded August 11, 2011. Accessed April 2, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGX0Yo8BFWg