Bard Music Festival Celebrates ‘Schubert and His World’

Franz Schubert (by W.A. Rieder, 1825)

Franz Schubert (by W.A. Rieder, 1825)

(ANNANDALE-on-HUDSON, N.Y.) — The world-renowned Bard Music Festival, now celebrating its Silver Jubilee with an exploration of “Schubert and His World,” opens Friday, August 8, 2014, with Weekend One: The Making of a Romantic Legend, featuring five themed concerts including orchestral and chamber concerts, recitals, operetta, plus talks, panel discussions, and commentary, at the Fisher Center on the campus of Bard College.

Combining works from opposite ends of Franz Schubert’s all-too-brief career, the first of the weekend’s five themed concerts – Program 1, “The Legacy of a Life Cut Short” – exploits Bard’s unusual ability to vary the traditional concert format by integrating chamber, vocal, and orchestral works within a single event. Thus the posthumously published Third Symphony rubs shoulders with Gretchen am Spinnrade, selected dances and partsongs, and two of the consummate chamber masterpieces of Schubert’s maturity: the Fantasy in F minor for piano duet and the transcendent String Quintet in C.

The New York Times has praised Bard’s “track record of presenting fine young performers and some good veterans,” and this opening event is no exception, featuring an outstanding line-up that includes tenors Paul Appleby and Nicholas Phan, pianist Anna Polonsky, the Dover Quartet, and members of the festival’s resident American Symphony Orchestra under the leadership of music director and festival co-artistic director Leon Botstein. A distinguished scholar who was recently recognized by THIRTEEN’s NYC-Arts as “one of the most remarkable figures in the worlds of arts and culture,” the conductor presents an illuminating pre-concert talk before the performance.

Through the prism of Schubert’s life and career, this year’s Bard Music Festival explores the roots of Austro-German Romanticism. With its recognized excellence in thematic programming, Bard achieves a depth and breadth of musical and cultural discovery that is truly unique, offering an immersion in Schubert’s Vienna, and contextualizing the composer’s early life and career within the contradictions of his native city.

Program 4, “Goethe and Music: The German Lied,” is accompanied by expert commentary from Susan Youens, whose numerous publications on the composer include Schubert’s Poets and the Making of Lieder, and the remaining five programs of Weekend One are augmented with pre-concert talks by eminent academics, including Scholars-in-Residence Christopher H. Gibbs, author of The Life of Schubert and editor of The Cambridge Companion to Schubert, and Morten Solvik, director of IES Abroad Vienna.

Botstein leads the full American Symphony Orchestra in Program Three, “Mythic Transformations,” which juxtaposes incomplete symphonic works by Schubert – including the “Unfinished” Symphony’s two completed movements – with orchestrations of his music by Berlioz, Liszt, Joachim, Brahms, Offenbach, and Webern.Program 2, “From ‘Boy’ to Master: The Path to Erlkönig,” pairs some of Schubert’s early compositions with music by Rossini, Gluck, Salieri, Mozart, and other composers prevalent in the Vienna of his youth, while Program 5, “Before Unspeakable Illness,” an all-Schubert program, offers works from his early 20s, like the “Wanderer” Fantasy and Marche militaire, that preceded his diagnosis with syphilis.

To conclude the first festival weekend, Program 6, “Schubert and Viennese Theater,” presents a double-bill of rarities: Schubert’s one-act Singspiel Die Verschworenen and the first American presentation of Franz von Suppé’s operetta Franz Schubert, featuring James Bagwell leading the Bard Festival Chorale. The weekend’s impressive roster of performers also includes mezzo-soprano Rebecca Ringle, baritone Tyler Duncan, violinist Jennifer Koh, and pianists Danny Driver, Benjamin Hochman and Orion Weiss.

One of the most revered and influential composers of the Western tradition, Schubert remains paradoxically elusive. Weekend One audiences have the chance to unravel this contradiction in Panel One, “Invention and Reinvention: Who Was Schubert?” A special consideration of “The Song Cycle as Drama: Winterreise” rounds out the festival’s opening weekend.

NYC-Arts’ recent interview with Leon Botstein may be viewed here, and the conductor may also be seen in conversation with his fellow artistic director,Christopher Gibbs, here.

Weekend Two of “Schubert and His World” takes place at Bard on August 15–17.


Bard’s sensationally popular European Spiegeltent will be open for lunch and dinner throughout “Schubert and His World,” besides playing host to the Bard Music Festival Opening Night Dinner on Friday, August 8.

Program details of 2014 Bard Music Festival, “Schubert and His World”

WEEKEND ONE: The Making of a Romantic Legend

Friday, August 8


The Legacy of a Life Cut Short

Sosnoff Theater

7:30 pm            Pre-concert Talk by Leon Botstein

8 pm            Performance: Deanna Breiwick, soprano; Dover Quartet; Peter Myers, cello; Nicholas Phan, tenor; Anna Polonsky, piano; Rebecca Ringle, mezzo-soprano; Sarah Rothenberg, piano; Orion Weiss, piano; members of the American Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leon Botstein, music director; and others

Franz Schubert (1797–1828)

Gretchen am Spinnrade, D118 (1814)

Overture to Der vierjährige Posten, D190 (1815)

Symphony No. 3 in D, D200 (1815)

Fantasy in F minor for piano duet, D940 (1828)

String Quintet in C, D956 (1828)

Dances, songs, and partsongs

Tickets: $25–$60


Invention and Reinvention: Who Was Schubert?

Christopher H. Gibbs, moderator; Malcolm Bilson; Leon Botstein; John M. Gingerich

Olin Hall

10 am–noon

Free and open to the public


From “Boy” to Master: The Path to Erlkönig

Olin Hall

1 pm            Pre-concert Talk: Elaine Sisman

1:30 pm            Performance: Dover Quartet; Andrew Garland, baritone; Sari Gruber, soprano; Julia Pilant, horn; Anna Polonsky, piano; Rebecca Ringle, mezzo-soprano; Sarah Rothenberg, piano; Orion Weiss, piano; and others

Franz Schubert (1797–1828)

String Quartet in B-flat, D112 (1814)

Zur Namensfeier meines Vaters, D80 (1813)

Erlkönig, D328 (1815)

Songs, dances, and partsongs

Arias, songs, and other works by Christoph Willibald Gluck (1714–87), Antonio Salieri (1750–1825), Johann Friedrich Reichardt (1752–1814), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–91), Johann Rudolf Zumsteeg (1760–1802), Carl Friedrich Zelter (1758–1832), Carl Czerny (1791–1857), and Gioachino Rossini (1792–1868)

Tickets: $35


The Song Cycle as Drama: Winterreise

Olin Hall

5 pm            Performance: Tyler Duncan, baritone; Erika Switzer, piano

Franz Schubert (1797–1828)

Winterreise, D911 (1827)

Tickets: $35


Mythic Transformations

Sosnoff Theater

7 pm            Pre-concert Talk: Christopher H. Gibbs

8 pm            Performance: Rebecca Ringle, mezzo-soprano; Andrew Schroeder, baritone; American Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leon Botstein, music director

Franz Schubert (1797–1828)

Symphony No. 8 in B minor, “Unfinished,” D759 (1822)

Sonata in C, “Grand Duo,” D812 (1824; orch. Joseph Joachim, 1855)

Selections from Symphony in E Major, D729 (1821; orch. Felix Weingartner, 1934)

Songs, orch. Hector Berlioz (1803–69); Franz Liszt (1811–86); Jacques Offenbach (1819–80); Johannes Brahms (1833–97); and Anton Webern (1883–1945)

Tickets: $25–$75

Sunday, August 10


Goethe and Music: The German Lied

Olin Hall

10 am            Performance with commentary by Susan Youens; with Teresa Buchholz, mezzo-soprano; Andrew Garland, baritone; Judith Gordon, piano; Sari Gruber, soprano; Sarah Rothenberg, piano; Scott Williamson, tenor

Songs by Franz Schubert (1797–1828); Franz Joseph Haydn (1732–1809); Johann Friedrich Reichardt (1752–1814); Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–91); Johann Rudolf Zumsteeg (1760–1802); Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827); Carl Friedrich Zelter (1758–1832); Carl Loewe (1796–1869); Felix Mendelssohn (1809–47); Robert Schumann (1810–56); and Hugo Wolf (1860–1903)

Tickets: $30


Before Unspeakable Illness

Olin Hall

1 pm            Pre-concert Talk: Byron Adams

1:30 pm            Performance: Danny Driver, piano; Dover Quartet; Andrew Garland, baritone; Benjamin Hochman, piano; Jennifer Koh, violin; Anna Polonsky, piano; Orion Weiss, piano; and others

Franz Schubert (1797–1828)

Quartettsatz, D703 (1820)

Marche militaire, D733 (?1818)

Fantasy in C, “Wanderer,” D760 (1822)

Selections from 36 Originaltänze (Erste Walzer), D365 (1818–21)



Tickets: $35


Schubert and Viennese Theater

Sosnoff Theater

5 pm            Pre-concert Talk: Morten Solvik

5:30 pm            Performance: Paul Appleby, tenor; Deanna Breiwick, soprano; Nicholas Phan, tenor; Camille Zamora; soprano; Bard Festival Chorale, James Bagwell, choral director; members of the American Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leon Botstein, music director; and others; directed and designed by Eric Einhorn; lighting design by Jeanette Yew

Franz Schubert (1797–1828)

Die Verschworenen, Singspiel in one act, D787 (1823)

Franz von Suppé (1819–95)

Franz Schubert, operetta in one act (1864)

Tickets: $25–$60

All programs subject to change.

Weekend Two of “Schubert and His World” takes place at Bard on August 15–17.

Bard SummerScape ticket information

For tickets and further information on all SummerScape events, call the Fisher Center box office at 845-758-7900 or visit Fisher Center members receive priority access to the best seats in advance, and those who join the Center’s email list receive advance booking opportunities as well as regular news and updates.

Bard SummerScape

Bard Music Festival

Tickets:; or by phone at 845-758-7900.

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