Schubert Gb Impromptu

THURSDAY, November 28, 2019

Popular for more than 150 years…

Franz Schubert’s wrote eight Impromptus n 1827, when he was 30 years old. He died less than two years later. Only the first two were published in his lifetime. The 3rd, the one here that is in Gb major, was printed in G major instead and was only available in that key for many years. And it was not published until 1857, 30 years later – long after he died. Once it became known to the world it was almost instantly popular and has remained so ever since.

This 3rd Impromptu from the first set of four is one of the most famous and popular things Schubert ever wrote, in fact one of the most popular pieces written by anyone, so it’s rather shocking to realize that most of his music was not published until long after he was gone.

Schubert was born January 31st, 1797. He was an Austrian composer whose short life was over shortly after he reached the age of 30 – at only 31 years old to be precise. In 2019 the idea of such a talent being dead before age 32 is both shocking and depressing.

He died November 19th, 1828, at the apartment of his brother Ferdinand in Vienna. The cause of his death was officially diagnosed as typhoid fever. So if you are older than 31 and are reading this, you are already older than Schubert was the day he died. And even if you are much younger, imagine that you and your friends may not live past the age of 30.

Life was not good for most people in the 1800s.

Here are three very different recordings. The last one is my own personal preference.

Note that this Impromptu sounds very simple, very easy. Like all music that sounds great it is ridiculously hard to make it sound this good.

First Khatia Buniatishvili…

Now Krystian Zimerman…

He looks to me like some kind of strange little man in a doll house, and for me the chandelier is an embarrassing look. Really? A freaking chandelier? REALLY????????

But the playing is very fine.

Vladimir Horowitz…

Finally perhaps the most famous performance, and the one I prefer as the most interesting, with the greatest contrasts. In addition to the masterful playing, there are no grimaces, painful looks and grandstanding. All the lesser talents have to act out the music. If you turn down the sound he just looks like a feeble old man, and you think it would be totally boring. Then you turn up the sound and sort of drop your jaw.

2 thoughts on “Schubert Gb Impromptu

  1. If this makes sense, it feels as if the playing by Horowitz works better because he makes it *less* lyrical, and brings out more of the music by doing less. It doesn’t even make sense to me.

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