Generating, programming and performing new works alongside Schubert’s own music

Yehuda Inbar

This project aims to shed new light on the peculiarity and strangeness in Schubert’s music through the generation of new work informed by my performance of some of his late Sonatas and the programming of the new work alongside Schubert’s own music. Through my encounters with composers, and their encounters with my performances, I explore some of the ways in which Schubert speaks compellingly to musicians in the early twenty-first century. The collaborative processes that have generated the new work are a means to deepening understanding of Schubert’s evolving posthumous identity.

The project is rooted in performance research work I undertook as a masters student at the Royal Academy of Music. That first phase of my research was a collaboration with Michael Finnissy which culminated in my premiering his Vervollständigung von Schuberts D840 in London in May 2017, which he composed at my request. Subsequent collaborations have built on that initial project, with composers as diverse as Brett Dean, Richard Barrett, Jörg Widmann, and Morgan Hayes. The thread that has emerged from each of these collaborations is the strangeness of Schubert’s instrumental music and how this can be accessed in performances of his music.

Aspects of Schubert’s strangeness that have been touched upon in my performances and in my discussions with composers include: Schubert’s ‘cinematic’ technique – the ways in which he poses questions about musical continuity by juxtaposing blocks of material, shifting harmonies in blocks and expanding a musical moment far beyond the span implied by its structural function.

The practical aspect of this project, resulting in newly commissioned pieces, opens new possibilities and ideas in programming Schubert’s music. Not only in programming his core piano repertoire, but also in programming some of his unfinished works in innovative ways. In this thesis I discuss how playing these new works, juxtaposing them with Schubert, as well as discussing Schubert’s music and identity with composers has enriched my way of interpreting Schubert’s music and vice versa, on my own personal journey of performing Schubert.

Header Image Credit: Neda Navaee

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If you would like to find out more about this project, please don't hesitate to get in touch:

Yehuda Inbar

Timothy Jones (Supervisor)

Neil Heyde (Supervisor)