In Search of Remembered Time: Textual Dialogue and Musical Discourse in Schubert's Instrumental Music

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Schubert’s instrumental music, in particular his movements in sonata form, have long been recognized as following a different kind of realization than Beethoven’s. By contrast with Beethoven’s strongly declarative style in his middle period works, Schubert’s have a different kind of ‘voice’, in two senses of the word: one is that their predominantly lyrical quality makes them more like “songs without words”, to use Mendelssohn’s phrase; the other, which is proposed here, is that they contain an “inner voice” or narrative, that draws on Schubert’s Lieder as a kind of ‘memory bank’. Through metaphor and allusion, in ways that interpret the poetic ideas of Herder and Goethe, Schubert’s instrumental music recreates the expressive worlds of his songs, which frequently use a poetic image as a hinge between temporal worlds. This image acts as a ‘mémoire’ that opens the door to the past. Rather than trying to depict events from his biographical past in a literal sense, the music recreates instead expressive moods, such as longing, hope and despair, that delineate the inner life journey, and in which we can identify our own. Through its re-interpretation of formal techniques, such as side-slipping a semitone or enharmonic connections, Schubert’s instrumental music opens up affective domains in which, in a fragmented world, we can not only recapture time past but also, as a magical transformation, savor it as time regained.


Keywords: Compositional technique, Narrative and voice, Form, Meaning, Metaphor, Listening, Memory, Allusion
Stream: Meaning and Representation
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. Barbara Barry

Professor of Musicology, Conservatory of Music, Lynn University
Boca Raton, FL, USA

My research interests are in Beethoven studies, music of the classical period and Romanticism. I was born in London and trained first as a concert pianist with Alfred Kithin and Anthony Kinsella, gaining two degrees in piano performance before age 17. I undertook training in musicology and music theory at the University of London, from where I have three degrees including PhD (magna cum laude). My teaching experience includes New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, as Head of Music History at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, MA, at Boston University and Harvard. I have published extensively with two major articles appearing in academic year 2006-7, and another, on Bach's 'Goldberg' Variations, coming out in Fall 2007. I love the active discourse of discussing music and learning continually from my students and colleagues.

Ref: A07P0020