of Franz Schubert’s String Quartet No. 14 in D minor (Death and the Maiden), performed by the Julliard String Quartet.
It speaks for itself — and for Schubert.
With my rudimentary knowledge of musical form, I realized that the second movement is in the form of theme and variations, something we learned about in a so-so music appreciation course I took in college.
My younger brother alerted me and our siblings to this New York Times article, and asked us to pick a favorite among the Beethoven pieces discussed. The following is the text of an email of mine in reply to my brother.
Thanks for sharing and alerting me to this Times article. I find such articles sort of silly, usually. But, here are my favorites.
The “incredible transition” into the work’s final movement (between the third and fourth movements) of Beethoven’s Fifth. Yes, incredible. It never fails to thrill me. It’s brilliant and overpowering.
Slow (third) movement of the A minor String Quartet (Op. 132). Yes, so profoundly. Plumbs spiritual and emotional depths. I got to know the Late Quartets in my senior year in college. They were a revelation.
“Moonlight” Sonata, third movement. The “Moonlight’ sonata was one of the first Beethoven piano sonatas I got to know, in my senior year in high school and, mostly, during the summer of 1964, when I listened to it countless times.
The first movement of the piano sonata Opus 78. For some reason, I got to know this sonata only rather recently. This movement is one of my absolute favorites among the piano sonatas. A brilliant opening. Is enchanting the right word?
Seth Colter Walls
The second movement of the Seventh Symphony. I became familiar with all the Beethoven symphonies quite early, in my teens. I probably did not really get to know the Seventh until my freshman year in college (thanks in large part to the portable stereo that Mom and Dad gave me as a high school graduation present). When I first heard the seventh symphony, I found the second movement haunting, and still do. Like a lot of great Beethoven music, great passages, it is unique. He seems to be always original. Which is why he never tires (I should say, to be grammatically correct, never tires the listener).
Here’s a great performance of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 1 in G minor, conducted by Leonard Slatkin.
The title of the symphony in Russian, Зимние грёзы (Zimniye gryozy), is usually rendered in English as “Winter Dreams.” This is not accurate. The Russian word for dreams is мечты (mechty). The noun грёза (groza) means a daydream or reverie.
Tchaikovsky’s last three symphonies are listened to much more often. They are all works of great emotional power and consummate mastery. But the originality and beauty of the first symphony are notable. The four movements are as follows:
1. Dreams of a Winter Journey – Allegro tranquillo
2. Land of Desolation, Land of Mists – Adagio cantabile ma non tanto
3. Scherzo – Allegro scherzando giocoso
4. Finale – Andante lugubre – Allegro maestoso
It is perhaps not a good idea to do so, but I would single out the first two movements as favorites of mine, and especially the haunting, elegiac second movement.
The Symphony No. 1 was composed in 1866 and first performed in 1868.
I have been trying to occasionally post music that I find especially appropriate for these trying times. Posted above is the “Et incarnatus est” from Schubert’s Mass No. 6 in E-flat major, performed by the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande.
— Roger W. Smith
Addendum: This music needs no comment. But, I can’t resist saying that it is very Schubertian — or, to put it another way, only Schubert could have written such a piece: sacred in this case, but stamped with the intense feeling and warmth of his impromptus, say, and other piano pieces.
Ave verum corpus, natum
de Maria Virgine,
vere passum, immolatum
in cruce pro homine
cuius latus perforatum
fluxit aqua et sanguine:
esto nobis praegustatum
in mortis examine.
Hail, true Body, born
of the Virgin Mary,
having truly suffered, sacrificed
on the cross for mankind,
from whose pierced side
water and blood flowed:
Be for us a foretaste [of the Heavenly banquet]
in the trial of death!