Franz, you do my head in April 28, 2006Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
Doing a bit of blog-zapping this morning, I ended up here (can’t effing work out how to link to a single post there) and the mention of Schubert got me thinking about, well, Schubert. I am an utter dilettante when it comes to music (as in everything else) but I do at least know I adore Franz. Just adore him. Austria. I will never belittle your name again.
But it’s a complicated love. I find myself drawn to Schubert, erm, whenever he enters my head, really. And when I do dig out one of the few pieces I have, I can never tell if it’s having the wonderful effect I’m expecting it to or whether it’s secretly filling me with turbulent thoughts of gloom and misery. In any case, I stick to the knowledge that I love it.
The link in the Virtual Stoa post is to his songs. My own favourites are his piano works where Schubert is, at least for me, totally unshackled and at complete liberty. In my youth – long since forgotten – I would have only enjoyed the bombast of full orchestral works, but now I am never happier (or more disturbed. I don’t know which) when alone with Franz, a piano sonata and whichever genius is performing the damn thing. (Kovacevich and Uchida do it for me, but that’s only because they’re what I have lying around.) And although I think much of his work is disturbing, or at least clearly the result of a profoundly unusual mind – and thank god for that – I still think Schubert is good for a musical dilettante because I refuse to believe anyone couldn’t find these piano works beautiful, uplifting, depressing, mad, everything. I’m trying to think whether my mother – the litmus test for someone who hates everything – would bear to be able to lend it an ear, and I’m sure she would (while secretly wishing I’d turn it off so she could get back to Home and Away). A quick google has led me here, where there are a few free downloads. If I may, I can’t recommend the Impromptu – the second of the two freebies – highly enough. But what I turn to again and again and again in times of trouble, joy, woe, emptiness, standard-Thursday-afternoon-in-November-ness is the A major Sonata (D959). The Rondo, blasted extremely loud, is excellent for, well, making you forget everything else, really. It is also the music that was performed at the best concert I have ever been to, in a small concert ‘space’ where I sat an inch from the pianist and folk – not me, of course, because of being such an autistic arse – were shedding unwanky tears.
The troublesome thing about Schubert also for me is not just that his music so hits a spot – I repeat, I don’t know which one – but him. Dead at 31. It is thought from syphilis, or the side-effects of its treatment. But how can someone so young have produced so much? And have been such a genius? Well, I suppose we partly have illness to thank for this. Only a brain addled by some sort of madness could have given us such maddening beauty. When you think that some of these works were written within weeks of his death, his health a mess, I think that goes part of the way to explaining the complication of the emotions that some of these piano works are full of.