1815: Schubert: Symphony No. 3 in D major (Tarantella), age 18

Mr. Peabody Says:

Start here for a real toe tapper: IV. Presto vivace, D major

As with many tarantellas, this one full of energy and is relentless, totally carefree and impossible to get out of your mind. And yet it was never published until 1884.

Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 3 in D major, D 200, was written between 24 May and 19 July 1815, a few months after his eighteenth birthday. Like the other early symphonies (the six written before the “Unfinished” Symphony of 1822), it was not published during Schubert’s lifetime. It appeared many years later, in the first Schubert complete works edition in 1884.

Andrés Orozco-Estrada

Instruments:

  • 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons
  • 2 horns, 2 trumpets
  • timpani
  • strings

1st movement:

It starts out with a slow, somber intro. As always, these slow intros go right back to Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. Then the rest is light, jaunty and energetic. It’s hard for me to process that this music is from a composer who was not yet 18 when this was finished and probably a good deal younger when he started it.

2nd movement:

Rather than a slow movement this is is a bit more relaxed but still somewhat fast.

3rd movement:

This is a scherzo, not a minuet. Just as Beethoven still called his early scherzos “minuets”, apparently Schubert here did the same thing. The difference is that scherzos are much faster. Often each set of three beats sounds just like one.

4th movement:

It’s a tarantella, something very fast in 6/8 time. There is a lot here that is like Rossini, born six years earlier in 1792. Rossini is a composer who does not get enough credit. He was born earlier than other so called “Romatics”, but he outlived many of them because of his rather long life. None of these composers was unaware of other fine composers. By age 17, almost 18, Rossini was 24 and already known internationally.

Unpublished:

The 3rd symphony was written between 24 May and 19 July 1815, a few months after his eighteenth birthday. Like the other early symphonies (the six written before the “Unfinished” Symphony of 1822), it was not published during Schubert’s lifetime. It appeared many years later, in the first Schubert complete works edition in 1884. I keep trying to wrap my head around that fact. Here we have one of the greatest composers who ever lived and the world totally ignored his symphonies except for the “Unfinished” until after his death.

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