Symphony No.2

Franz Schubert

Symphony No.2 in Bb major

D125

About this work

The product of a brilliant 17-year-old, this symphony, while not a masterwork to rank with the Beethoven symphonies it emulated, is nevertheless a quite remarkable effort. Cast in four movements, it is already decidedly grander in scale and outlook than the 1813 Symphony No. 1.

The opening movement of the Second begins with a brief and sunny Largo introduction, after which the vigorous Allegro vivace main theme is presented by scurrying strings. The music here effervesces and brims with energy in its rising trajectory and seeming skyward flight, but soon a playful, comparatively serene melody is presented to offer brilliant contrast. The two themes are then developed imaginatively, and following a reprise, the movement ends with the same sunny, energetic character that predominated throughout.

The second movement, marked Andante, is a theme and variations whose source melody is rather simple and graceful, first played by the strings. The winds have much to say in the variations that follow and, save for one muscular variant midway through, the mood remains serene and gently playful. The ensuing Minuet, marked Allegro vivace, features a hearty, almost gruff dance tune in the outer sections and a light, playful trio at the center. The finale (Presto vivace) maintains the generally light and energetic moods of the first and third movements with a rhythmic, jaunty main theme and a carefree, somewhat playful alternate theme, which offers only mild contrast. This B flat major symphony generally lasts 30 to 35 minutes in performance.

Done