O ponto fixo do mundo em mudança

o sentido do agora na música instrumental tardia de Schubert


  • April Wu University of Oxford




Schubert’s late instrumental music evokes a distinctive time-sense which not only expands the expressive potential of stylistic norms, but also invites deeper reflections on the relationship between the self and the world through his multilayered construction of temporal consciousness. The sense of now, towards which past and future gravitate, is particularly salient. In this article, I examine the formal, harmonic, topical processes through which Schubert constructs a vivid sense of the now in two movements from his late period, D. 956/ii and D. 959/ii, through the lens of phenomenology, drawing on conceptions of time as formulated by Husserl and Merleau-Ponty. I aim to bridge two fields together: first, the general theory of musical time, as has been delineated by Kramer, Barry and Clifton, which examines concepts such as linearity/nonlinearity, silence and stasis; and second, the scholarship on late Schubert, with key conceptual tools such as landscape, late style, lyricism, songfulness and interiority, formulated in the works of Adorno, Burnham, Mak and Taylor. I will also provide the cultural context of musical time in the early-nineteenth century, focusing on the wider paradigm shift from form-as-architecture to form-as-process in music. My analysis reflects a phenomenological orientation within a hermeneutic, narrative mode. I highlight the often disorienting subjective experience of time as evoked by moments that deflect from norms and expectations, specifically the tension between the transient nature of music and the sense of permanence evoked through Schubert’s cyclic, paratactic procedures. I then show how Schubert’s construal of temporal consciousness acquires a historiographical import and resonates with the broader intellectual world by framing it in terms of Schlegel’s three stages of history. I conclude by promoting phenomenological approaches in analysing Schubert’s works and nineteenth-century music at large.