Dear FLCE Audience Members,
We continue Music for the Pause with this March 16, 2016 performance of Schubert’s brilliant, Octet in F Major, Op. 166, D. 803, featuring an array of wonderful guest artists as well as our FLCE core members.
As the situation with the pandemic continues to improve, we at FLCE are making long-range plans to resume our concert series. Please keep checking our website for further details.
We are all very eager to again perform in public for our loyal audience members and thank you so much for all your support during this challenging time.
We hope you enjoy this performance!
Roberta for FLCE
Schubert’s Octet – a few remarks
It’s fascinating to imagine two iconic composers living within in a short distance of each other in Vienna in the early 1800’s. Beethoven was a tremendous source of inspiration for Schubert and greatly influenced his compositional style. Interestingly, there’s no indication that these two ever met.
By 1824, Schubert was in poor health and spirits. He had been diagnosed with syphilis in 1823 and he knew his days were numbered. In a letter to a friend he writes:
“I find myself to be the most unhappy and wretched creature in the world. Imagine a man whose health will never be right again, and who in sheer despair continually makes things worse instead of better; imagine a man, I say, whose most brilliant hopes have perished, to whom the felicity of love and friendship have nothing to offer but pain at best…and I ask you, is he not a miserable, unhappy being?”
Within this tragic context, Schubert, was approached by the gifted amateur clarinetist, Count Ferdinand von Troyer, who wished to commission a chamber work similar to Beethoven’s Septet, Op. 20. Much to Beethoven’s annoyance, his Septet was hugely popular in Vienna, so much so, that its tunes were hummed and played repeatedly throughout the city. At one point, Beethoven is reported to have said he thought the piece should be burned!
Schubert set to work on the commission immediately. He retained the divertimento movement outline and general instrumentation of Beethoven’s Septet, but added a second violin. The piece was completed by March and received a private premiere at the home of von Troyer in April of that year.
Schubert’s writing is masterful and each of the eight instruments gets its chance to shine. While there are moments of great drama and pathos, the octet brims over with ebullience and sheer love of life. It is now considered one of the great chamber music masterpieces of all time.
Octet in F, D. 803
III. Allegro vivace—Trio
IV. Andante con variazioni
V. Minuet: Allegretto—Trio
VI. Andante molto—Allegro
Janet Sung, Maureen Yuen-Mathai, violins
Roberta Crawford, viola
Stefan Reuss, cello
Jared Egan, bass
Richard MacDowell, clarinet
Daniel Hane, bassoon
Alexander Shuhan, horn
Sunday, March 6, 2016
Ithaca Unitarian Church
photo credit: Sheryl Sinkow