Unfinished History: A New Account of Franz Schubert's B minor Symphony by David MontgomeryUnfinished History: A New Account of Franz Schubert's B minor Symphony by David Montgomery

Unfinished History: A New Account of Franz Schubert's B minor Symphony

byDavid Montgomery

Paperback | April 1, 2017

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This study addresses a long-standing mythology concerning the "Unfinished" Symphony and reviews anachronistic performance practices that prevent listeners from experiencing the work as a product of its own time.

David Montgomery’s Unfinished History challenges the traditional story of Franz Schubert’s B-minor Symphony and searches for a more credible account of this great work. Written for all Schubert lovers from lay readers to musicians and musicologists, the book reviews a strangely persistent mythology concerning the symphony, continuing with the first in-depth examination of its manuscript and related documents. Details of handwriting, notation, paper, watermarks, compositional procedures, and stylistic contexts suggest a new year and country of origin for the “Unfinished” Symphony, a possible explanation for the absence of a finale in the sketches, and an alternative account of the score’s disappearance and prolonged sequestration. The author concludes with an essay on performing the work in the context of its own times.

The story of the Unfinished has been based partly upon three conflicting letters written in old age by Schubert’s former secretary long after the composer’s death. A fourth document in this insupportable mythology is a photograph of a lost letter purportedly sent from Schubert to the Styrian Music Society in Graz, promising to send them a symphony. Many historians still believe the letter to be genuine, despite the fact that its signature has been traced. David Montgomery’s handwriting analysis finally identifies the real writer of this odd missive, clearing a further path to new research.

David Montgomery is an American conductor, pianist, and musicologist. He studied in Paris with René Leibowitz and in the U.S. and Vienna with Paul Badura-Skoda. He became Leibowitz's assistant in France, specializing in music of the Second Viennese school. Later, he studied the interpretation of contemporary music with Pierre Boulez in...
Title:Unfinished History: A New Account of Franz Schubert's B minor SymphonyFormat:PaperbackDimensions:270 pages, 10 × 7 × 0.57 inPublished:April 1, 2017Publisher:Universal-Publishers.comLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1627346457

ISBN - 13:9781627346450


Table of Contents

Scripts and Handwriting

Schubert and the Hüttenbrenners. The Dankschreiben and related documents.

The Orchestration Manuscript

Whose hands at work, and where?

Schubert’s Working Methods for D759

The quest for speed.

Structural Criteria for Redating the Symphony

Kinship with the late works.


A theoretical history of the manuscript, its disappearance and reappearance, based on evidence from Chapters 1–4.

An Essay on Performance

General Bibliography


Editorial Reviews

Schubert authority David Montgomery has done music lovers everywhere a huge service in reminding us just how much we still do not know about Schubert’s beloved “Unfinished” Symphony—exactly where it was written, when, for what purpose, and the strange circumstances of its preservation and eventual rediscovery. Only by embracing the mystery can we see clearly how posterity has disregarded so much that we can know: specifically, what Schubert actually wrote and thus what his evident expectations in performance were. Montgomery rejects the traditional view of the work as a gloom-filled essay in pre-Wagnerian grandiosity, describing the music as filled with intimacy, grace, color, and supple rhythmic vitality. By analyzing the work’s compositional and transmission history in minute detail, Montgomery not only asks us to take a fresh look at a piece that we thought we knew cold, he justifies our making the effort.--David Hurwitz, Executive Editor, ClassicsToday.comDavid Montgomery’s Unfinished History at long last opens up a portal to a new performance tradition. There is lavish detail here and literally everything you need to know about D759 [Schubert's Unfinished Symphony]. It makes fascinating reading for the scholar as well as the performer.--David Zinman, Music Director, L’Orchestre Français des Jeunes