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John Harbison

Publisher: AMP

November 19, 1828 (1988),
Associated Music Publishers Inc
Works for 2-6 Players
Sub Category
Piano Quartet
Year Composed
17 Minutes
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Programme Note
John Harbison November 19, 1828 (1988),
Composer Note:

The "medium" for this tombeau for Schubert is grateful for the generosity of Jim and Marina Harrison, at whose home near Genova the piece was realized. Their library contained a book by Alfred Mann, Theory and Practice, in which an account of Schubert's lesson with Sechter, and the lesson itself, appear. The piece asserts Schubert's relevance to our present rather than any nostalgia for the past.
I. Introduction: Schubert crosses into the next world
II. Suite: Schubert finds himself in a hall of mirrors
1. Theme
2. Écossaise
3. Moment Musicale
4. Impromptu
5. Valse
III. Rondo: Schubert recalls a rondo fragment from 1816
IV. Fugue: Schubert continues the fugue subject (S-C-H-U-B-E-R-T) that Sechter assaigned him

I. The trumpets of death are heard three times. Schubert begins his journey haunted by sounds which are not his music, but pertain to his music in disturbing ways.

II. In the hall of mirrors music sounds in a manner previously unknown to Schubert—everything is played back immediately upside down.

III. Emblematic of a storehouse of ideas which are still to be explored, perhaps even in future times, the short fragment which begins this Rondo is the only one in this piece composed by Schubert in his first life.

IV. Shortly before his death, Schubert went to the theorist Sechter to work on a very specific problem pertaining to the tonal answer of the fugue subject, important to Schubert in the composition of his masses. Sechter, well aware that he was teaching the most extraordinary student who ever came for a lesson, concluded by assigning Schubert a fugue subject on his own name. Schubert was unable to undertake the task; he died about a week later, on November 19, 1828.

November 19, 1828 is a National Endowment for the Arts Consortium Commission, composed for the Atlanta Chamber Players, the Da Capo Chamber Players, and Voices of Change.

—John Harbison

duration: ca. 16 minutes

Sample Pages

  • 21 MAR 2015
    Max-Joseph-Saal, Munich, Germany
    Stephan Hoever, violin /Mathias Schessl, viola / Stefan Trauer, cello / Oliver Triendl, piano

    Other Dates:
    22 March - Evangelische Akademie Tutzing, Germany
  • 21 JAN 2011
    Alice Tully Hall; New York, NY
    Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
    Emanuel Ax, Cho-Liang Lin, Richard O'Neill, Efe Baltacigil

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