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Music Talks > 2022 Summer Fall
Music Talk: Monday 28 March 2022
Meeting open for joining at 6:45 pm Beirut Time (GMT+3 or UCT+3)
Talk starts at 7:00 pm and until 8:30

Note that Beirut is changing into Summer Time (GTM+3) on the 27th of March

Was Schubert an Expressionist?
Let us look into his Last Sonata (D960)
Akram Najjar (English)

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The D960 Sonata (adapted from Wikipedia Click Here)
Expressionism thrived in the early 1900's, 100 years after Schubert. It will not occur to music lovers to take back the principles of Expressions to Schubert, restricting them to the Second Viennese school and their "relatives". Yet, Expressionism has principles that were rampant with Schubert, as this talk will clarify. Then talk will be based on analyzing Schubert's last sonata (No 21 in B Flat Major, D960).
Schubert's last three piano sonatas, D958, D959 and D960, are the composer's last major compositions for the piano. They were written during the last 2 months of his life, between the spring and autumn of 1828. During that time, Schubert knew that he was dying and that his days were numbered, yet, he wrote 3 of the most lyrical and beautiful sonatas in the repertoire. The sonatas were not published until about 10 years after his death. Like the rest of Schubert's piano sonatas, they were mostly neglected in the 19th century. By the late 20th century, public and critical opinion had changed, and Schubert's last sonatas are now considered amongst the most important of the composer's mature masterpieces. They are part of the core piano repertoire, appearing regularly on concert programs and recordings.

One of the reasons for the long period of neglect of Schubert's piano sonatas seems to be their dismissal as structurally and dramatically inferior to the sonatas of Beethoven. In fact, the last sonatas contain distinct allusions and similarities to works by Beethoven, a composer Schubert venerated. However, musicological analysis has shown that they maintain a mature, individual style. Schubert's last sonatas are now praised for their mature style, manifested in unique features such as a cyclical formal and tonal design, chamber music textures, and a rare depth of emotional expression.

The three sonatas are cyclically interconnected by diverse structural, harmonic and melodic elements tying together all movements in each sonata, as well as all three sonatas together. Consequently, they are often regarded as a trilogy. They also contain specific allusions and similarities to other Schubert compositions, such as his Winterreise song cycle; these connections point to turbulent emotions expressed in the sonatas, often understood as highly personal and autobiographical.[9] Indeed, some researchers have suggested specific psychological narratives for the sonatas, based on historical evidence concerning the composer's life.

Schubert's last sonata D960 is by common consent, his greatest achievement in the form and one of the finest contributions to the long series of classical sonatas. It has a feeling of tranquility and ease - the ease of a master who has all the technical facility at his fingertips with which to express his ideas and emotions. It has 4 movements that echo themes from one another and that are written in stark contrast to one another.

Akram Najjar is a graduate of AUB in Physics and Mathematics (1966). By 1969, he completed a degree in Electronic Engineering in University of Hertfordshire, UK. His professional life was spent in Information Technology and organizational management. He spent a lot of time on reengineering business and public sector processes.

Akram got introduced to Classical Music by his mother when he was sick for 6 months. She found that the only way to keep him busy was to bring a record player to his bed side while reading to him biographies of great composers. This love of music never left him, although he never took serious music lessons. Since that time, Akram was very involved in learning about music, as much as a non-musician can.
When Akram was 14, he chanced upon an evening program that presented one Jazz great at a time. This got him to love Jazz, in parallel with Classical Music.

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