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About this Piece

Composed: 1819

Length: 8 minutes

Orchestration: 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, timpani, and strings

First Los Angeles Philharmonic performances

Schubert wrote his Overture in E minor in 1819. It was performed in Vienna two years later, but then disappeared from public view until the publication of Schubert's collected works in 1886. Some Schubertians regard it as a landmark work of unusual power, breaking ground that he would build on in his last two symphonies. Schubert biographer John Reed appears to disagree when he writes that it "lacks any touch of Schubertian charm. The themes are short and symphonic, rather than lyrical." But the two opinions are reconcilable. The Overture is, in a sense, Schubert doing Beethoven: The short motifs building into longer sequences and the mounting tension and explosive climaxes all show Beethoven's influence on the 22-year-old Schubert. At the same time, the actual construction of those sequences, with the same motif repeated at progressively higher or lower pitches, harks back to Baroque music.

- Lawyer and lutenist Howard Posner has also annotated programs for the Coleman Chamber Concerts and the Salzburg Festival.