By Mark Goodman
Franz Schubert occupies a special place in music lovers’ hearts, whether for timeless melodies such as Ave Maria and Serenade, ground-breaking piano works such as Wanderer Fantasy and the Impromptus, or orchestral masterpieces such as Unfinished Symphony. Perhaps it is the combination of his unerring gift for melody, the pioneering look to the future of music, and the poignancy of his early death at age 31 that endears Schubert to all who know his music. Who knows what paths he would have taken, what amazing gifts we would have been left with, had he lived to an older age?
In his honor, I am proud to be presenting South Shore Conservatory’s (SSC) second “Schubertiade” on Sunday, April 17. The term Schubertiade refers to the house concerts held by Schubert with his circle of friends and fellow musicians in living rooms around Austria. Songs were sung, new works were presented, and all who attended knew they were in the presence of something special.
Our program revolves around two of Schubert’s most popular songs during his lifetime, Gretchen am Spinnrade (Gretchen at the Spinning Wheel), and Die Forelle (The Trout), both sung by SSC’s Vice President of Education, Lorna Jane Norris. Both of these songs found their way into transformed versions, one by Franz Liszt, and one by Schubert himself.
Liszt transcribed some 55 of Schubert’s songs. It was a genre he helped to create, and the transcriptions were in great demand by the general public. His brilliant version of Gretchen am Spinnrade will be performed by our amazing new piano faculty member, Xixi Zhou. (Xixi will be performing a full recital at SSC on May 13 in Hingham.) Liszt’s transcription was written in 1838, ten years after Schubert’s death, so technically it could not have been performed at one the original Schubertiades, but let’s not quibble! It will be fascinating to hear the way Liszt transforms the song to a virtuoso piano version with his own style and sensibility, while remaining faithful to the original spirit and text.
Die Forelle was the most requested song Schubert ever wrote, and was so beloved by the participants of the Schubertiade’s that Schubert was asked to compose a quintet based on the song. The result was the Trout Quintet, which has become one of the glories of the chamber music repertoire, and will be the closing work on our concert. The fourth movement consists of five variations on the original song, and the entire piece is tuneful and ebullient throughout. Our quintet is made up of Conservatory faculty members Cassie Sulbarán, viola, Sassan Haghighi, cello, Chris Rathbun, bass, and myself on piano. Joining us will be violinist Julia Cash, who was a member of the Evening Under the Stars Festival Orchestra last summer.
We are all very excited to be presenting this music we love. I hope you can join us in true Schubertiade style – with your friends, and in an intimate setting!
South Shore Conservatory’s Conservatory Concert Series presents Schubertiade, on Sunday, April 17, 4 pm at 64 St. George Street, Duxbury. It is the sixth and final concert of the 2015/2016 Conservatory Concert Series, funded in part by Boston Private. Admission to the performance is free. To learn more about this and other Conservatory Concert Series concerts, please visit http://www.sscmusic.org/concert_series.html.
Pianist Mark Goodman of Hingham is South Shore Conservatory’s Piano Department Chair. He has been with the Conservatory since 1981.