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The secret behind Schubert`s `Unfinished Symphony`

Posted August. 27, 2014 01:52,   


Have you heard of Friedrich Silcher (1789-1860)? A German composer, he`s mainly known for "Die Lorelei," a song based on a poem written by German poet Heinrich Heine. Tuesday marks the anniversary of Silcher`s death.

Silcher is very familiar to German people since he compiled German folk songs into a music book. Most Korean people are familiar with the song "The Spring Pool" where lyrics go "How I wonder who may drink from the spring pool on the mountain." Silcher first composed the music in 1836. The lyrics that go "How I wonder who may drink from the spring pool," has melody "sol-si-re-fa-mi-re-do," which is easy to sing and thus can`t be forgotten. German title is "Drunten im Unterland" and lyrics go, "Down in the low lands. Up in the high lands there are plums and down in the low lands grapes, but I like lands." The main melody of Shubert`s "Unfinished Symphony" No. 8 also goes “sol-si-re-fa-mi-re-do."

Seven notes appearing in various music isn`t accidental. Which came first? Shubert`s "Unfinished Symphony" was composed in 1822 and so it can be believed that people sang it in chorus that Silcher made into a music book. However, it isn`t that simple because "Unfinished Symphony" was found only in 1865. Then was Shubert inspired by people`s chorus?

After eight years since Silcher`s music appeared in 1844, German folk song researcher Ludwig Erk said the song is known nationwide in Germany. Prior to the unification of the two Germanys, Austria was treated as part of Germany.

Considering then telecommunication publishing conditions, if the song was known in Germany in 1844, there is high possibility that Shubert could have known some 20 years before the song when he composed "Unfinished Symphony."

Did Shubert include the melody in his symphony based on respect to folk songs? After some 200 years since, it is hard to make conclusion today. We recommend you take the pleasure to assume and imagine.