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Length: c. 8 minutes
Orchestration: 2 oboes, 2 trumpets, timpani, strings, and solo v iolin
First Los Angeles Philharmonic performances
In August 1814, the 17-year-old Franz Schubert became “sixth assistant teacher” at the Vienna school his father ran. The job involved teaching the youngest children, and Schubert expected to give private music lessons on the side to augment his income. It was not, on the face of it, a good situation for a composer, with much of his time taken by non-musical employment. Yet in 1815 and 1816, according to Otto Deutsch’s authoritative catalog, Schubert composed a staggering amount of music: 250 songs and 132 other works.
Among these is the “Concert Piece” in D for violin and orchestra. If Schubert had a specific purpose in mind for it, nobody today knows what it was. It might have been intended for the musical society – today we might call it a community orchestra – for which he wrote his first five symphonies during this same time. But if it was performed at all, it got put away and forgotten. So many of Schubert’s works were similarly piled up in storage (he could scarcely have kept track of all the music he composed so rapidly) that when his brother sold a collection of manuscripts to the Vienna publisher Anton Diabelli a year after Schubert’s death, the process of publishing them one by one went on into the 20th century. The Konzertstück was not published until 1897.
It is sometimes called a “concerto,” but other than featuring a solo instrument, it has not much in common with a concerto as Schubert would have understood the word. It eschews the sonata-form repetition and development that marked the concerto proper for a free-flowing form consisting of a slow introduction and a fast movement in quasi-rondo form.
- Howard Posner