SCHUBERT Franz, String Quartet in G minor, D173

Allegro con brio 
Andantino  
Menuetto. Allegro vivace 
Allegro 
 

Schubert’s sheer productivity in 1815, the year in which he turned 18 years of age, is nothing short of astonishing: over 150 songs, two symphonies, piano pieces, religious music and the present string quartet, written between 25 March and 1 April 1815, while Schubert was also working as an assistant teacher in his father’s school. According to a note in his own hand, the first movement was composed ‘in four and a half hours.’ There’s no mistaking the influences on the teenage Schubert in this music, particularly Beethoven’s Op.18 quartets and, above all, Mozart’s Symphony No.40.  

But far from being merely derivative or imitative, this quartet is a notable example of Schubert experimenting with quartet structures, and starting to find his way as an original genius. Schubert expert Brian Newbould has noted that ‘Schubert’s way of plucking … principles from the repertoire all around him in his teenage years … is part of a positive, learning, and properly creative purpose.’ Newbould goes on to write that in this quartet, we find ‘things here that represent the first stirrings of inclinations that were to come to fruition in later works.’ 

© Nigel Simeone 

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