Friday, October 17, 2008

Renaissance Research "Conservatory Project" Assignment: Benjamin Britten On Schubert And The Years Between Beethoven And Wagner, Verdi, And Brahms

... "Franz Schubert’s last three piano sonatas were written in the summer of 1828, when he had reached his maturity as a composer and was finally beginning to gain public recognition for his compositions. Ironically, it was also the year of his untimely death at age thirty-one. The pieces from the last years of Schubert’s life are profoundly private, and explore the depths of sadness as well as heights of sublime joy. The trilogy of final piano sonatas is ranked with his song cycle Winterreise, his Mass in E-flat Major, D. 950, and his String Quintet in C Major, D. 956, [and his Symphony #9 in C Major, D. 944] as one of his greatest achievements." ...

Danielle DeSwert's Program Note for Gilles Vonsattel's Free Piano Recital at the National Gallery of Art last Sunday -- featuring music of J.S. Bach, Schubert, Liszt, Dallapiccola, and Nico Muhly.


Benjamin Britten considered Franz Schubert's achievement in his very short period of time following the death of Beethoven (and before the later, huge 19th c. achievements of Wagner, Verdi, and Brahms), to represent perhaps the pinnacle of Western art music.

Try to locate the source of this reference and then write an essay discussing your reaction to Benjamin Britten's strong judgment.

[Britten, an accomplished pianist, accompanied many of Schubert's lieder and performed many of his piano solo and duet works.]

Alberto Giacometti

Objet désagréable à jeter [Disagreeable Object to be Thrown away]

'This wooden object is designed to be picked up and played with, and can stand in several different positions. It is satisfying to hold, but is also sinister and possibly offensive. Although it looks as if it has been built for a purpose (possibly sexual), the artist has left this for the viewer to decide. It is similar in shape to a type of stool made in Western Africa, although one of the 'legs' is fixed to the top of the 'seat.' Giacometti made this piece while working with the surrealist group.'

'Swiss-born sculptor Giacometti (1901-1966) studied art in Geneva, moving to Paris in 1922 where he experimented with Cubism and became interested in primitive sculpture. He worked with the surrealist group until the mid-1930s, producing strange objects suggestive of cruelty, sex and dreams. After that time, he broke away dramatically from the Surrealists and returned to working from life. He then produced his best known works, a series of elongated and fragile skeletal figures, made not by carving but by an obsessive process of modelling in clay and whittling away.'

Photo (and caption) credits: © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2006. Via National Gallery of Scotland website.


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