Rethinking Development and Variation in Schubert’s Last Piano Sonatas: What do the Drafts and Final Versions Reveal?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Historical critiques of Schubert’s methods of development hold that he substitutes ‘genuine’ development with sequences of variation, thus blurring the boundary between musical progression (development via fragmentation) and additive expansion (repetition via sequence and variation; Adorno 1928, Salzer 1928). Recent appraisals of Schubert’s expansive developmental strategies suggest, alternatively, that the distinction between the two techniques is not as unambiguous as we might assume (Burstein 1997, Hyland 2013, Martinkus 2018), and have begun to problematize this binary opposition.

Building on that work, this chapter brings the continuity drafts and autograph scores for the Piano Sonatas D. 958, D. 959 and D. 960 into focus by paying particular attention to the changes made by Schubert in the final versions which employ variation or varied repetition as part of an on-going developmental process. It assesses the impact on formal function and syntax caused by the introduction of varied repeats at different levels of structure from the individual bar to the full phrase, underlining the resulting amalgamation of sonata (discursive) and variation (recursive) techniques that these works articulate (Ivanovitch 2010). Ultimately, through close examination of Schubert’s compositional revisions, this chapter presents a fuller understanding of what constitutes development in a Schubertian context and the vital role of variation within that.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSchubert's Piano
EditorsMatthew Gardner, Christine Martin
PublisherCambridge University Press
Publication statusIn preparation - 2023


  • Schubert
  • Piano Sonata
  • Variation
  • Development
  • Fortepiano
  • Nineteenth-century music
  • Reception studies


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