Monday Mail: Why Didn't Schubert Finish His Unfinished Symphony?

Romanza Andaluza [Diptych]
Romanza Andaluza [Diptych] (Photo credit: pablofalv)

Q: No one's been able to tell me why Schubert didn't finish his "Unfinished Symphony." Do you have the answer?

A: I'm sorry to say that I don't think anyone knows the real reason why Franz Schubert didn't complete his Symphony No. 8 in B minor. There are all sorts of guesses and romance stories, but the composer didn't leave a clue behind. I guess all that we know is that Schubert completed two movements and he began sketches for a Scherzo movement. So, probably he either put it aside for other works (and died before coming back to it), or that he temporarily ran out of ideas that matched the high inspiration of the finished movements.

As fine a work as it is, the "Unfinished" waited for 46 years to be published! Schubert finished the two movements in 1822, sent the score to his friend Huttenbrenner, died six years later, got a first performance in 1865, and publication in 1868.

Dr. James Stevens

Many of my readers perform regularly with a worship band in a church service.  That means you know about lead sheets, improvisation, modulations and so much more. Looking back, when I was a moderator in the zone community at the Hear and Play website, I spoke with a wonderful musician and friend James Stevens, who is the Professor of Music at Welsh College. For more information   with tons of great music resources, like improvisation handouts and guides, you'll want to visit his website.  James covers a range of improvisation and arranging topics – from how to read a chord chart,  chords for modulation and walking bass lines.

Besides the free improvisational downloads, you'll find two volumes of original piano solos on his wonderful site that can be downloaded as PDF files. I was so surprised to hear from Mr. Stevens recently and so blessed to receive a copy of his latest book, Romanza of the Heart, a set of “romantic piano compositions for relaxation and contemplation.”  I have been playing through the songs and love the heart-warming compositions with such beautiful, flowing melodies.  It's difficult to have a favorite because all of them are beautiful and very enjoyable to play. They’re written for intermediate to early advanced level for young students and adults. Available for purchase on Amazon and iTunes

Thank you, Dr. Stevens. Best wishes and much continued success.

If you have the time, be sure and head over to his site for Free Improv Downloads


"The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you." B.B.King
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