Franz Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony: unfinished, clouded in mystery, but also powerful and deeply romantic. The iconic conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt described the symphony as a piece with the “strangeness, surprise and shock of a stone that falls from the moon.” The work was absolutely innovative, but at the same time reflects the zeitgeist in which it was written: melodic, romantic, bursting with emotion and feelings.
For the 150th anniversary of the death of Schubert in 1978, the fragmentary remnants of Schubert’s other unfinished symphony, the Tenth Symphony in D Major which he was working on just before his death, came to the attention of the Italian composer Luciano Berio (1925-2003). He finished the symphony, not by trying to complete it in ‘the style of’, but by restoring it, as one would an ancient fresco.
Berio kept the existing fragments intact, and filled the gaps with new music that does not make up for the missing parts but instead, connects them to each other. “In the empty spaces I composed a kind of connective tissue which is constantly different and changing, always ‘pianissimo’ and ‘distant’, intermingled with reminiscences of late Schubert.'' Like a musical ‘cement’ that binds the stones of a house to each other.”
Flagey, Brussels Philharmonic