KPAC blog: The Piano
9:43 am
Fri December 7, 2012

Be Careful What You Wish For: Schubert Gets Published, But There Is A Caveat

Franz Schubert, incredibly talented and poor as a church mouse, wanted the chance to make a decent living from his music, and finally, near the end of his life, he got publishers interested. The down side was that his works were to be dictated by what would sell, and Schubert found his outlets wanted simple music that would sell rather than the big Sonata's that he was interested in.

So Schubert composed four piano pieces that are at once great music and accessible to the average pianist. Another surprise was in store for our composer, a Bohemian invention the Impromptu, which was a big hit with Viennese pianists, and the four pieces were published in this style.

On "The Piano" this Sunday, more of Schubert's powerful short piano works, dubbed Impromptus by his publisher. These pieces communicated Schubert's personality as well as any of his nearly 1,000 compositions.

This week we pick up on number 6 of the eight composed in 1827. Schubert had his joy of being published tempered with the knowledge that the printer wanted short easy works for the student that would sell.

Robert Schumann and music critic Alfred Eisenstein see the second set of Impromptus as a disguised piano sonata. Whether it is or not, we hear the last three works of the second set and three Klavierstucke or piano pieces composed in Schubert's last year of life that stretch his piano technique to its most demanding. Again, I look for the most persuasive of the recordings available to me and you can hear them on this Sunday evening at 5 on KPAC and KTXI.