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Composed: 1822

Length: c. 25 minutes

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

First Los Angeles Philharmonic performance: November 21, 1919, Walter Henry Rothwell conducting

About this Piece

This concert is devoted exclusively to one of Schubert’s most popular creations, and the question is usually “Why? Why didn’t he finish it?” Scholars disagree, but the reason is certainly not because he died while working on it. He was 25 and had six years to live. During that time, he composed a tremendous amount of music, including acknowledged masterworks like his Ninth Symphony, his three greatest song cycles, the three final string quartets, his C-major Quintet, and stacks and stacks of piano and vocal music. But a look through his catalog also will find that there are fragments galore, numerous other pieces he left incomplete. It seems to be part of the way he worked. What he did leave us—two completed movements—has captivated many music lovers for its harmonies and memorable melodies. Conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt described the symphony as having all the strangeness and surprise as a “stone from the moon.”