Symphony No.3

Franz Schubert

Symphony No.3 in D major


About this work

When compared to the estimable boatload of vocal music he composed in 1815 -- nearly 150 lieder, three singspiels, and numerous choral works -- Franz Schubert's instrumental output for the same year seems rather unimpressive. However, his second and third symphonic essays count among the total, and one might rightly conclude that these two splendid and sizeable works make up for any imbalance of musical direction. The Symphony No. 3 in D major, D. 200 was begun during late May and finished just under three months later, with the bulk of the work being done during July. Like each of the other early symphonies (the six written before the "Unfinished" Symphony of 1822), it was not published during Schubert's lifetime; only after it appeared in the first Schubert complete works edition in 1884 did it become an object of widespread attention.

Schubert places a slow introduction before the main body of the first movement. Perhaps more than any other episode of the Symphony, this shows Franz Joseph Haydn's indirect hand in the youthful Schubert's style: long-sustained octaves, complete with timpani roll, precede gradually shifting harmonies that, in true late Haydn fashion, migrate into a sullen D minor. The burst back into the major mode at the start of the Allegro con brio is a welcome one, and the fleetfooted tune that unfolds has the character of a peasant's dance to it; its infectious rhythms spread to the subsidiary melody as well. The Allegretto that follows is in ternary form; the central episode takes off on a clarinet solo, to which the strings lend a gentle "oom-pah" support -- one of Schubert's most characteristically Viennese touches.

Filled with accented upbeats, the minuet (marked Vivace) is a particularly energetic example of its species. The oboe and bassoon get a nice duet during the German dance-like trio. The finale (Presto vivace) is a five-minute plunge headlong into the frantic (but good-naturedly so) world of the tarantella.