Symphony No. 8 by Franz Schubert

Summary

'''Symphony No. 8 in B minor''', D.759 (sometimes renumbered as Symphony No. 7, in accordance with the revised Deutsch catalogue and the Neue Schubert-Ausgabe), commonly known as the '''"Unfinished Symphony"''' (), is a work that Schubert started in 1822 but left with only two movements--though Schubert lived for another six years. A scherzo, nearly completed in piano score but with only two pages orchestrated, also survives.

Many have theorized that Schubert may have sketched a finale that instead became the big B minor entr'acte from his incidental music to ''Rosamunde'', but all evidence for this is circumstantial.Brian Newbould, ''Schubert and the Symphony: A New Perspective'', p. 189 and pp. 294-6 One possible reason for Schubert's leaving the symphony incomplete is the predominance of the same meter (triple meter). The first movement is in 3/4, the second in 3/8 and the third (an incomplete scherzo) also in 3/4. Three consecutive movements in basically the same meter rarely occur in symphonies, sonatas or chamber works of the most important Viennese composers.

thumb|250px|Schubert, Symphony No. 8, third movement, first page, facsimile, 1885, in J. R. von Herbeck's biography

Schubert's eighth symphony is sometimes called the first Romantic symphony due to its emphasis on expressive melody, vivid harmony and creative combinations of orchestral tone color despite the architecturally imposing Classical structures of its two completed movements highlighted by the dramatically climactic development section of the first movement based solely on its quietly sinister opening theme.

To this day, musicologists still disagree as to why Schubert failed to complete the symphony. Some have speculated that he stopped work in the middle of the scherzo in the fall of 1822 because he associated it with his initial outbreak of syphilis--or that he was distracted by the inspiration for his ''Wanderer Fantasy'' for solo piano, which occupied his time and energy immediately afterward. It could have been a combination of both factors.

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