April 16, 2021

A useless company | Culture

A useless company | Culture

Within the catalog of compositions of Franz Schubert (1797-1828) can be located up to nine unfinished piano sonatas and no less than four unfinished symphonies. A result of his admiration for the theories of Schlegel and Novalis, whose poems he had read with relish and even used within his extensive collection of Lieder. The Austrian composer participated, in his way, in that aesthetic renewal of the first romanticism that turned the fragment into an ideal dichotomy between the imperfection of the created work and its consideration as perfect by the author. Aphorisms and sketches now converted into a way of modernity, as had happened since the Renaissance with the call non finite. Sketches resolved in a few strokes, scarce and accurate, in which the rapture was worth more than the diligence, the fury that the composure, and where it was necessary to know how to remove the hand of the created thing in time.

Schubert used the autograph manuscript of his famous Unfinished symphony, dated October 1822, to the Styrian Musical Society in Graz as thanks for their honorary membership. The institution had a certain prestige, because it counted among its members with Beethoven, Salieri or Diabelli. And Schubert decided to present himself with his more ambitious symphonic composition, profusely orchestrated and armed with a trio of trombones. But the manuscript was unfinished; it was abruptly interrupted in the scherzo, after more than a hundred bars, and had no final movement. Nobody explained such a paradox and the manuscript was left in a drawer in the aforementioned Austrian musical society. In 1865, that is to say, almost forty years after the death of Schubert, the work was discovered, released and published, although limited to its first two movements completed. The manuscript then went to the file of the Society of Friends of Music Vienna, where today it is conserved, and in a few years it became one of the most important creations of the Schubertian catalog. Since then, there have been attempts to conclude the third movement, such as the achievements of Felix von Weingartner, Gerald Abraham, Nicola Samale and Benjamin-Gunnar Cohrs, and speculations about what the last one would have been like; the most famous theory assigns that function to the first inter-session of Rosemunde

But the Unfinished has another story. The impasse of this composition has traditionally been related to the first symptoms of syphilis that Schubert suffered for the rest of his life. The disease that led to his early death just after thirty. His last years coincided with a disconcerting creative maturity. The composer was completely depressed, but he composed music and wrote poems. From the spring of 1823 dating My prayer and from the previous summer the autobiographical My dream. In these verses, the musician delves into the complex relationship he had with his father; it is thought that he wrote under the influence of opium and even that he alludes to alleged abuses during childhood. They have also seen a hidden program of their Unfinished symphony, despite the parallels it has with the symbolic story The apprentices of Saïs, of Novalis. But perhaps this text also hides a statement of their sexual condition. In recent decades the romantic myth associated with Schubert as a neglected young man who died prematurely has given way to the hedonist tormented by his venereal passions. Already in 1816 some of his friends had expressed their concern for the composer's vital cocktail: tobacco, alcohol and sex. His nature, like his music, was a clear example of the gaieté Viennese seasoned with a deep melancholy.

The analysis of the music of this unfinished symphony has allowed us to delve into other additional details. For example, Susan McClary has used the theory queer to explain the ambiguous and vulnerable profile of the second movement, where Schubert's music does not consolidate and departs from the Beethovenian self-assertive narrative model. The composer expresses his "difference", according to McClary, musically constructing something subjective, which has been traditionally labeled as effeminate. Following that line Glenn Stanley has related, more recently, this composition with Don Giovanni, from Mozart. He has even found allusions to that opera at the most dramatic moments of the development of the first movement or has linked the use of trombones in the symphony with the representation that is made of the Commander's ghost in the famous scene of the second act. Until the full title of the opera (Il dissoluto punito, ossia il Don Giovanni) has its meaning, because Schubert felt precisely like a "chastened libertine" after having contracted syphilis by his sexual escapades. In addition, the conceptual evolution of the myth of Don Juan, in the twentieth century, refers to a latent homosexuality by Freudian influence. This was already defended in Spain, in the thirties, Gregorio Marañón versus Ortega y Gasset, and even today the complex nature of the character of the same name is interpreted dramma giocoso Mozartian

It is clear that the Unfinished symphony It is the result of an artistic imperfection that was considered perfect by its author, based on the aforementioned theories of Schlegel and Novalis. Therefore, delving into how Schubert would have finished it is a completely useless enterprise, even if it is done by means of a sophisticated algorithm. Nothing would change his conception. He proved it Augusto Monterroso, from fiction, in Symphony concluded, one of his short stories of Complete works (and other stories). An old organist of the church of La Merced of Guatemala found, in 1929, between the papers of his music archive the two completed final movements of the Schubert symphony. In his eagerness to make them known among specialists, he embarked for Europe and tried to show his discovery in Vienna. But the community of specialists did not pay attention to him and the only ones who paid attention to him, "a family of Jewish old people", confirmed the authorship at the same time that they begged him not to spread them: "The movements, in spite of being so good , they added nothing to the merit of the symphony as it was. " The story ends with the organist sunk in melancholy, smashing his find and throwing it over the side of the ship in which he returned home.


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