Franz Schubert. He died of syphilis because he went to whorehouses all the time.
  • Franz Schubert. He died of syphilis because he went to whorehouses all the time.
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I'm renaming Schubert's Symphony No. 9, known as The Great Symphony. I'm going to call it The Great Tediousness. This symphony goes nowhere, and for what feels like an eternity. I must admit that when I first listened to a recording of the Ninth, years ago, I thought it was boring and didn’t listen to it again.

I thought that perhaps I missed something and that a live performance would bring out the commendable qualities of the piece A live performance did nothing but confirm my conviction that this is a terrible piece of music. Terrible. God, it’s terrible. I wanted to scream "Fire!" so that something interesting would happen during the concert. A felony conviction might have been worth it.

There isn’t an orchestra in this world that could make Schubert’s final symphony interesting. Come to think of it, I don’t like any of Schubert’s symphonies. Even The Unfinished becomes drab after the main tune is repeated seemingly infinite times.

Schubert's strength as a composer is not the symphonic form. It’s not the larger forms at all. He wrote 300 songs but how many of them are worth singing? I’m not sure, but I am sure that I like Schumann's songs better.

I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but I think Schubert might be a third- or even fourth-rate composer. I adore his Mass in G Major and some of his choral music but it’s hardly earth-shattering. It’s lovely, but tends to repeat the same material over and over — and over and over — and over. And. Over.

Even his famous Ave Maria is the same tune repeated three times note for note. I think that’s what I’m starting to realize about Schubert. He doesn’t develop his material the way a first-rate composer would.

This concert was meh from start to finish. Mozart is always Mozart but this orchestra can't figure out how to put any life into it. The Symphony's Mozart performances have tended to be mushy and flat-footed. There was very little agility in the Piano Concerto No. 25.

The solo part was played quite well by Richard Goode, but this was not an inspirational experience.

We can make a few excuses for the orchestra. It could have been the dreary weather on performance day. It could have been that it was the third time the orchestra was slogging through Schubert’s muckish Ninth.

Whatever the case, the Symphony sounded as if it were in a midseason slump.

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Comments

Germanicus2 March 2, 2015 @ 6:22 p.m.

If considered as minimalist meditations, some of Schubert are bearable, even enlightening, especially in the hands of the pianist Richter. But this can never happen under the direction of amateurs.

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