The Foreshadowing of Death in Schubert's Schwanengesang

Schwanengesang literally translates as ‘swansong’ and comes from the ancient belief that swans remain mute throughout their entire lives but sing a beautiful song just before death. While this myth has no factual basis, the term ‘swansong’ has become a metaphor for the last performance given or work produced before death or retirement. However, the title of Franz Schubert’s (1797-1828) final song cycle was not conceived by Schubert himself but by his publisher Tobias Haslinger (1787 – 1842) in 1829 – several months after Schubert had died. Today I will be exploring the way Schubert comes to terms with his impending death in his final musical contribution to the world through his choice of poetry, word setting and use of musical devices. 

Practical Practise Practices

There's one phrase that my teachers Philip and Alisdair are always repeating: "practise in every way possible". It's a phrase that Alisdair learned from Philip (who was also his teacher) and Philip learned from his teacher Gordon Green, who learned it from his teacher Egon Petri, who was a student of Busoni.... The legacy can be traced back to Chopin, Liszt and Schumann (something I feel very honoured but also intimidated to be a part of).

Many teachers simply preach "separate hand practise, then put it together slowly and increase the tempo". But the problem is, the technique and fingering I use for a slow lyrical passage will be completely different to the technique and fingering I use to play a sparkling virtuosic passage. However, I can't practise the faster passage at tempo because I haven't wired it into my fingers yet - so how can I practise this passage effectively and efficiently in such a way that I will not be surprised by new problems when playing at tempo?

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