Franz Schubert composed four instrumental movements that form a distinct repertoire: the "Trout" Quintet D. 667/iv; the Octet D. 803/ iv; Piano Sonata in A minor, D. 845/ii; and the Impromptu in B-flat, D. 935/iii. Each of them comprises a set of variations on a major-key theme. Each includes (not unexpectedly) one variation in the parallel minor and (more remarkably) a variation in VI followed by a retransition leading to a dominant interruption that prepares the final tonickey variation. Examination of these movements reveals the intimate relationship and common derivation of variation set, sonata form, character piece, Lied, and aria in Schubert. Schubert's formal integrations are made in the service of a Romantic sensibility of distance, loss, memory, and regret. He joins musical aspects of distance (from the theme, from a home key, from a home register) to distance in its poetic aspects: from the past, from home, from old loves and places. Schubert not only continues the 18th-century tradition of musical depictions of distance, he transforms and expands them in unprecedented ways. The result is a poignant intersection of formal innovation and musical poetics.
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