Franz Schubert left this world when he was only 31 years old. A few months before his death, in the summer of 1828, he composed his final instrumental work, the String Quintett in C Major. At the time Schubert’s health was failing and he confided to friends that he feared his near death. At the beginning of November he again fell ill and his condition worsened. Schubert died in Vienna, on November 19, 1828.
Schubert Streichquintett C Dur, Alban Berg Quartett, Adagio
The last musical work Schubert had wished to hear was Beethoven’s String QuartetNo.14 in C sharp minor (which Paul and I listened to when we had our conversation about Beethoven a while ago. You find a link to the musical piece at the bottom ).
I heard the Quintet in C Major for the first time when I was about 27. A friend had died at a young age and he was buried at a beautiful cemetary, between oak trees and vinyards. It was a brilliant autumn day and we listened in stillness to a live performance of the Adagio of Schubert’s quintet in C.
This was the first time I realised death had something very endearing and comforting and at some intuitive level understood the longing to die to this world and to awaken to true freedom.
Whenever I listen to the Quintet in C Major, I think of the sweetness of death and the longing for salvation that is expressed therein. Listen to poignant voices of the two cellos, expressing the pain of parting – and the hope and temptation that lies therein. By the way, the cello is musical instrument that resembles most the tone of the human voice.