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The Musical Matrix Reloaded

Contemporary Perspectives and Alternative Worlds in the Music of Beethoven and Schubert

Barbara Barry

The Musical Matrix Reloaded proposes a striking new scenario for the music of Beethoven and Schubert in the contemporary world. It draws on the theory of Multiple Worlds in physics, and on sci-fi and movies, as powerful contemporary models of alternative realities to explain radical features of interpolation, dislocation, and ultimately of return.

Confronting familiar assumptions about Beethoven’s and Schubert’s music as long-range consonance, the book proposes instead that musical action is predicated on an underlying disruptive energy, Nietzsche’s Dionysian disruptive background re-interpreted in the contemporary world. When it breaks through the musical surface, it dislocates continuity and re-routes tonal narrative into new, unforeseen directions. These unforeseen paths enable us to glimpse in Beethoven’s and Schubert’s music the beautiful, and often haunting, reality of another world.

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11. A Shouting Silence: Further Thoughts about Schubert’s ‘Unfinished’

Extract

Not that the summer is less pleasant now Than when her mournful hymns did hush the night, But this wild music burdens every bough….William Shakespeare1

In his 1928 article about the ‘Unfinished,’ Herbert Peyser raised the following trenchant questions about the silence that surrounded the unexplained circumstances and even the existence of Schubert’s B minor symphony:

After all, what came over the fulsome, incessantly-proselytizing Anselm [Hüttenbrenner] to seal his lips as to this, of all Schubert’s creations? Or over Josef [Anselm’s brother], who had carried the priceless treasure?2

The work had long been in the possession of Anselm Hüttenbrenner, a friend of Schubert’s who had made his home in Graz, and was a member of the city’s Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde (Society for the Friends of Music). Schubert had entrusted Josef, Anselm’s brother, with bringing the score of the B minor symphony to Graz, so that Anselm could present it to the Gesellschaft in appreciation of his nomination as an honorary member. Schubert evidently felt that the award was an important recognition of his achievements as a composer by an acknowledged music society.

At this point, something goes awry because the score apparently never reached the Gesellschaft. There is no surviving letter of acknowledgement from the Society to Schubert that they had received the score. Nor is there any record of one or both movements being performed in its concerts, either in 1823, the year of Schubert’s nomination,...

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