Grand Rondeau

Franz Schubert

Grand Rondeau in A major

D951, Op. 107

About this work

The last year of Schubert's all too brief life was very productive and saw the creation of several of his finest works. Among these were the F minor fantasy for piano duet, a number of songs including the noteworthy "Serenade", the last three piano sonatas, these being the C minor, A, and B flat works, and the final version of the towering Great C Major symphony. A prodigious amount of work by any standard, this is all the more incredible considering that he was in the tertiary stage of syphilis and ultimately on his death bed of typhoid as a complication of this. In the midst of all of it, Schubert accepted a commission from Domenico Artari, his publisher, for a "Grand Rondeau" for four hands at the piano and, beginning in June of that year, began to set down a simple theme in two four time. Each subsequent digression from this theme presses gently in another direction, giving the impression all are siblings, very comfortable with each other. The work scales no great heights but neither does it betray what must have been the composer's depressed and even despairing frame of mind and in its ten minute length emerges as a melodic, fully scored, finely crafted and ultimately satisfying piece of piano music. The work is significant in Schubert's output more for the circumstances under which it was produced as against the fine piece of music it became. It is essentially a throwback to the time when Schubert would toss off brilliant and comfortable short pieces under no greater inspiration than a whim to produce something for him and his friends to play at a pleasant musical evening. While not evidently designed for performance by his friends or amateur musicians, the piece is not demanding of either performer or listener. It was published just a month after the composer's death.