Sviatoslav Richter Schubert Wanderer Fantasy for Piano

Sviatoslav Richter Schubert Wanderer Fantasy for Piano


The Fantasy in C major, Op.15. D760, popularly known as the Wanderer Fantasy, is a four-movement fantasy for solo piano composed by Franz Schubert in November 1822. It is considered Schubert's most technically demanding composition for the piano. Schubert himself even broke down in the last movement when he was performing in front of his friends and announced "the devil may play it", in reference to his own inability to do so properly. 


The whole work is based on one single basic motive, from which all themes are developed. This motive is distilled from the theme of the second movement, which is set in c sharp minor and is a sequence of variations on a melody taken from the lied Der Wanderer, which Schubert wrote in 1816. It is this set of variations from which the work's popular name is derived. The four movements are played without a break. After the first movement Allegro con fuoco manon troppo in C major and the second movement Adagio, follow a scherzo presto in A flat major and the fianle, which returns to the key of C major. This finale stats out as afugue but later breaks into a virtuoso piece. This fantasy became a milestone in music history because it was the first time when a composer "integrated a four-movement sonata into a single movement." Schubert did so by matching the sequence of a traditional four-movement sonata to one big sonata form with exposition, development, recapitulation and coda. This exploration opened a new era of composing romantic music because it created an expanded form with more freedom in theme. Composers in this way were granted more freedom to compose based on their personal imagination and to compose with more viruosity. 


Compare Schubert's Wanderer Fantasy with Mozart's fantasy KV397 in d minor, we can see something different between two of them. Mozart's Fantasy starts with a haunting introduction followed by a melancholy, aria-like theme. Toward th e end, the melodrama is replaced with happiniess. However, the Schubert's Wanderer Fantasy has more dramatic dynamics and intense contrast between themes. 


I choose Schubert Wanderer Fantasy because this is the piece i'm working on. The technical demands of the Wanderer Fantasy at times cause pianists to injure their arms, and so do I. However, it is still one of my favorite virtuosic piano piece. 

Work CitedEdit

Burkholder, J. Peter, Donald Jay Grout, and Claude V, Oalisca. A History of Western Music. Eighth Edition. (W.W. Norton and Campany, New York, New York). 2010

Performance analysis: Fantasy in c major, op.15 (d.760)("wanderer" fantasy)

"[Sviatoslav Richter] Schubert: Wanderer Fantasy for Piano" Youtube Video. Uploaded April 14, 2013. Posted by “ nsnamesoralong” Accessed April 5, 2014.