Franz Schubert was born in Vienna in 1797. By the time he died in 1828, aged only 31, he had left a substantial body of work, most of it written within the astonishingly short period of about 14 years. Since the majority of Schubert's works had remained unpublished, his standing as one of the greatest composers of his time was comparatively slow to develop.
For Schubert, it was primarily his songs (lieder) that brought him fame, among them masterpieces, such as Gretchen am Spinnrade and Der Erlkönig. Most of his piano music, however, only became known to a wider public after his death. There are probably two reasons for this: Firstly, Schubert, unlike Beethoven, was not a piano virtuoso who performed his own music to a wider audience, and secondly, only few of his piano works appeared in print during the composer’s lifetime. Nevertheless, it was in fact his Impromptus Op. 90 and 142 that are nowadays regarded as the most significant examples of the then emerging romantic piano piece.
Sonata for Arpeggione and Piano
Franz Schubert’s Sonata in A minor D. 821 was originally written for piano and arpeggione, an instrument of the 1820s combining features of the guitar and the cello. This instrument was in use for just a short period of time, so that the composition has now become standard repertoire for cello and piano, and this is the version presented here. A handwritten violin part in the hand of Anton Diabelli kept by the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, however, shows that the sonata’s arpeggione part was initially arranged for violin, long before the first print in 1871 introduced the well-known version for cello and piano. Wiener Urtext also publishes Diabelli’s arrangement for violin and piano in a separate edition. Both editions are essentially based on Schubert’s autograph, the cello part in principle relies on the first printed edition of 1871, the violin part is based on Diabelli’s arrangement.