Franz Schubert: Six Moments Musicaux (Musical Moments), op.94

(i) Moderato (C major)
(ii) Andantino (A-flat major)
(iii) Allegro moderato (f minor)
(iv) Moderato (c-sharp minor)/
(v) Allegro vivace (f minor)
(vi) Allegretto (A-flat major)

In 1929, Oscar Bie reflected on Schubert:

That face! . . . It is the face of a teacher, but not of a strict one. The hair curls about the brow. No, this is no pedagogue; this is an artist, a true musician, certainly, if not a virtuoso. The gaze is modest; it betokens a man of the peo- ple, one who can work and play man to man, one who can casually create beautiful things. The mouth is slightly sensual, with a look of friendly expec- tancy, a hint of gaiety. The lips smile; they seem ready to tell stories, new and endless stories or the old stories with new variations, never firing in their Viennese Gemutlichkeit. There is nothing commanding, scheming, nothing pressing, nothing problematical. All flows naturally from heart to heart… There are no convulsions, no sudden descent or soaring between dramatic contrasts.

Schubert seldom performed as a solo pianist, and when he did accompany he was quite happy when the soloist claimed all the fame (according to his friend Spaun, he felt less embarrassed). Schubert would often turn down attending events of social standing in preference to (quite common) late nights at the inn and coffee house with his close circle of friends. Eduard von Bauernfeld recalled:

There were Schubert evenings when wine flowed generously, when the good Vogl sang all those lovely Lieder and poor Schubert had to accompany them endlessly so that his short and fat fingers would hardly obey him any longer. It was even worse for him at our social entertainments, only Würstelbälle (hot -dog parties) in those frugal times Here our “Bertl”, as Schubert was familiarly called by his friends, was made to play, and play again and again, his latest waltz until the endless cotillion was finished and the small, corpulent and freely perspiring little man could finally take a rest and eat his modest dinner. Small wonder that he sometimes fled and sometimes “Schubertiads” had to take place without Schubert.

This set of works was published under the title of Moments Musicaux in 1827. The title was assigned by Schubert’s publisher. The Third Moments Musicaux had been previously in a Christmas season folio in 1823 as “Air Russe” (Russian Air) (later called “Thème russe”). The Sixth had been published the following year as “Les Plaintes d’un Troubadour” (The Complaints of a Troubadour).

© Greg Smith, 2009