Schubert's most famous works

Six Moments Musicaux

These six piano masterpieces were written during the last five years of Schubert's life and contain incredible feeling and expression. Together they combine the Baroque, Classic and the new Romantic sound. Some place the "Allegretto in C minor" with these pieces and it complements admirably. It was meant to be a good-bye for a friend who was leaving Schubert to join the military and happily hints that the friend will return soon.

The six original pieces where not originally intended to be published together. Some of them were first published separately under different names.

The Fifth symphony

Schubert's Fifth Symphony was written in 1816, the same year he moved in with Schober. It is written in the magic style that most of us think that only Mozart can write. But he tries some new things, i.e. the changes of different keys. The Symphony was meant to be played by a little orchestra, but that resource was denied the young composer, so it was performed by some of his amateur friends. The first movement in the symphony is dominated by the flute, Mozart's "magic flute". The spirit of the symphony is optimistic - Schubert is still young and brimming with hope.

The Eighth Symphony the "Unfinished"

Schubert's Unfinished Symphony consists of only two movements. It is dedicated to the Musikverein of Graz which had made Schubert an honorary member. There are many speculations why the symphony was not finished. One theory is based upon the idea that the first two movements are so good that Schubert felt that another movement would add nothing to it. The two first movements were enough. We must not forget that Schubert, during the time when the symphony was composed (1822), encountered his first difficulties with his venereal infection, making it hard to continue his work. We also have to remember that this work was made in Schubert's mind, confident that it would never be performed by an orchestra as he would have desired, especially not with professional musicians. Therefore he arranged it for piano four-hand so that he and his brother could play it.

Pianoworks for four hands

TThe social enviroment in which Schubert lived made it natural for him to write many pianoworks for four hands. His first such pieces are from 1810 when he still was a child, and he continued until his death in 1828 when he wrote his famous "Lebenssturme". The title is not his, but is accurate - Schubert was having a very hard time during its composition.

The summers of 1818 and 1824 Schubert worked as a piano-teacher for Count Esterhazy in Hungary. There he wrote several pianoworks for four hands. An unusual feature in the works are that the arms of the players often cross. This was probably an intentional way to make physical contact with the young Countess Karolin with whom Schubert expressed affection.


Schubert is probably the best composer of songs, (called "lieder" in German). In 1815, when he was 18 years old, he wrote 150 songs. The following year he wrote a hundred more! He combined lyrics, often by Schiller or Goethe, and melody in a unique way. Sometimes the words are from friends or lesser-known poets. But Schubert's music gives the words life and eternity.

"Heidenröslein", is one of the most famous songs - both for its music and for its words by Goethe. At first it seems to be a nice folksong, but after a time both the music and the words suggest something deeper.

"Der Erlkönig", describes a father anxiously riding through a forest carrying his sick child. The music describes the terror of the ride, the tears of the father and the power of the "Erlkönig".

"Gretchen am Spinnrade", is a setting of words by Goethe. It is one of Schubert's first songs. It is sung by a young girl, Gretchen, who is seduced by Faust. Her peace is destroyed and all she is longing for is a kiss of love.

"Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt, weiss was ich leide"", in English called "None but an aching heart knows my suffering," is one of Schubert's last works. It is sung by a Goethe character, a waif-like gypsy called Mignon. But it is also possible to believe that it is Schubert himself who is suffering. The music evokes more than the lyrics, even though they are words of Goethe. This song is, in my opinion, the goodbye from the master of songwriting.


Kristofer Andréasson 1997-2003
I thank Carl William Thiel for helping me with the English grammar
Resources: Naxos booklet CD 8.550476, CD 8.550555, CD 8.550259,
Decca booklet CD 430 425-2 and Linz booklet CD 48087
Marcheron, Annamaria, and others: De stora kompositörerna. Kungälv 1991
Sorry for a bad quality on the wav-files, but I want them to be small so that anyone can enjoy them.
Please feel free to contact if any questions or suggestions kristofer
With reservations for any faults or errors in the texts.