Performance Friday, March 10, 2017 | 7:30 PM

Jonathan Biss
Mark Padmore

Zankel Hall
In the final weeks of his life, Schubert composed a large body of music, including the Piano Sonata in A Major, D. 959, and the songs of Schwanengesang. Despite the grim circumstances of his condition, Schubert resisted darkness and wrote some of his most inspired and transcendent music. The Piano Sonata is one of three he wrote in his final weeks, and is bold and lyrical with an Andantino movement that fascinates with its surprising key changes. The Schwanengesang songs don’t tell a particular story, but contain the quintessentially Romantic themes of nature, love, and loss that Schubert sets with soaring lyricism.


  • Mark Padmore, Tenor
  • Jonathan Biss, Piano


  • Piano Sonata in A Major, D. 959
  • "Im Freien," D. 880
  • "Die Sterne," D. 939
  • "Des Fischers Liebesglück," D. 933
  • "Der Winterabend," D. 938
  • "Herbst," D. 945
  • Selections from Schwanengesang, D. 957
    ·· Kriegers Ahnung
    ·· Aufenthalt
    ·· In der Ferne
    ·· Die Stadt
    ·· Am Meer
    ·· Der Doppelgänger
    ·· Die Taubenpost


SCHUBERT Schwanengesang (“Der Atlas”)
Mark Padmore, Tenor | Paul Lewis, Piano

At a Glance

After he was diagnosed with syphilis in late 1822, Schubert had to confront both his mortality and how/what to create in the time remaining. In those days, syphilis was an unpredictable disease, and one’s lease on life in the wake of contracting it was of unknown duration: Hugo Wolf, similarly afflicted, had some 19 years of sanity and creativity, but Schubert had only five. It is one of history’s many tragic ironies that he died exactly 100 years before Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, which could have cured him. But, knowing that his health was ruined and that he would almost certainly die young, he made heroic use of the time left to him, altering the landscape of music in a few short years. He was perhaps particularly drawn to the poetry of some of his “late songs’” (how tragic to say these words about a man only in his 30th year)—meditations on what constitutes a good life and a good death. 
Program Notes
This concert is made possible, in part, by the A. L. and Jennie L. Luria Foundation.
This performance is part of The Late Style, and Chamber Sessions II.