Octet (Schubert)

Octet (Schubert)

The Octet in F major, D. 803 was composed by Franz Schubert in March 1824. It was commissioned by the renowned clarinetist Ferdinand Troyer and came from the same period as two of Schubert's other masterpieces, the Rosamunde and the Death and the Maiden string quartets.


Consisting of six movements, the Octet takes almost an hour to perform.

  1. Adagio – Allegro – Più allegro ;
  2. Adagio ;
  3. Allegro vivace – Trio – Allegro vivace ;
  4. Andante – variations. Un poco più mosso – Più lento ;
  5. Menuetto. Allegretto – Trio – Menuetto – Coda ;
  6. Andante molto – Allegro – Andante molto – Allegro molto.

The Octet boasts the largest scale for any chamber work by Schubert. It is scored for a clarinet, a bassoon, a horn, two violins, a viola, a cello, and a double bass. This instrumentation is similar to that of the Beethoven Septet, differing only by the addition of a second violin.


In response to a reported request by Troyer for a work similar to Beethoven's Septet, Op. 20, Schubert composed the Octet in early 1824. The work was first performed at the home of Troyer's employer, the Archduke Rudolf (to whom Beethoven's Archduke Trio is dedicated) and included many of the musicians who premiered the Septet.

Around the time he composed this Octet, Schubert informed his friends he was working on a new "Grand Symphony". As none of Schubert's surviving scores written in this epoch matches a "symphony" properly speaking, it was sometimes assumed that this Octet and/or the Grand Duo in C major (D.812, op. 140) might have been preliminary versions of the "Grand Symphony" Schubert mentioned in 1824.


The basic structure of the movements is similar to those of the Septet, as are many of the key relationships between the movements and principal key (E flat for the Septet, F major of the Octet). The theme of the first movement is derived from Schubert’s song Der Wanderer. The fourth movement variations are based on a theme from Schubert's Singspiel Die Freunde von Salamanka.




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