Schubert's Fingerprints: Studies in the Instrumental Works  book cover
1st Edition

Schubert's Fingerprints: Studies in the Instrumental Works

ISBN 9781138245709
Published September 7, 2016 by Routledge
344 Pages

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Book Description

As Robert Schumann put it, 'Only few works are as clearly stamped with their author's imprint as his'. This book explores Schubert's stylistic traits in a series of chapters each discussing an individual 'fingerprint' with case studies drawn principally from the piano and chamber music. The notion of Schubert's compositional fingerprints has not previously formed the subject of a book-length study. The features of his personal style considered here include musical manifestations of Schubert's 'violent nature', the characteristics of his thematic material, and the signs of his 'classicizing' manner. In the process of the discussion, attention is given to matters of form, texture, harmony and gesture in a range of works, with regard to the various 'fingerprints' identified in each chapter. The repertoire discussed includes the late string quartets, the String Quintet, the E flat Piano Trio and the last three piano sonatas. Developing ideas which she first proposed in a series of journal articles and contributions to symposia on Schubert, Professor Wollenberg takes into account recent literature by other scholars and draws together her own researches to present her view of Schubert's 'compositional personality'. Schubert emerges as someone exerting intellectual control over his musical material and imbuing it with poetic resonance.



Susan Wollenberg is Professor of Music at the University of Oxford, Faculty of Music, and Fellow and Tutor of Lady Margaret Hall, as well as Lecturer in Music at Brasenose College. Among her publications are contributions on Schubert to various journals and symposia including Schubert Studies, ed. Brian Newbould (Aldershot: Ashgate, 1998), and Schubert durch der Brille, Journal of the International Schubert Institute (2002 and 2003). Her paper given at the international Schubert bicentenary conference in Paris (1997) appeared as 'Schubert's Poetic Transitions' in Le style instrumental de Schubert: Sources, analyse, évolution, ed. Xavier Hascher (2007).


'In the ongoing project to refute earlier writers' characterization of Schubert as "less than Beethoven", Susan Wollenberg's analytical study is among the most important new entrants into the field. Everyone who listens to Schubert's instrumental compositions soon becomes aware of a unique style, one composed of an intricate mesh of particular rhythmic and metrical practices, formal procedures, tonal processes, harmonic thumbprints, and much more. Wollenberg devotes a chapter to each of Schubert's foremost predilections, with - one of this book's many strengths - ample attention to exceptions. Those who read this beautifully written book will emerge from it with a much greater understanding of what makes Schubert so great.' Susan Youens, University of Notre Dame, USA 'Those in the fields of musicology and music theory who are studying Schubert or who have a scholarly focus on the music will welcome this important new contribution to Schubert research... Highly recommended.' Choice 'This book organizes and develops the discussion of various areas of Schubert’s style in new directions. Freed from the pre-conceptions of the Beethovenian aesthetic, Schubert is allowed to be assessed as a master composer on his own terms. This is recommended reading for all who wish to stay abreast of modern Schubert scholarship.' The Schubertian 'Wollenberg’s authoritative and richly detailed attempt to put several of Schubert’s most distinctive fingerprints under the analytical microscope results in a valuable contribution to our understanding of a composer whose formal complexity and coherence remain relatively unexplored.' Notes '... erudite and enlightening...' The Musical Times '... what shines through on every page is Wollenberg’s deep knowledge of Schubert’s music, as she draws subtle connections across the history of his output. Her numerous reconstructions of what Schubert might have written, had he been inclined to follow common practice, illuminates what make