Franz Schubert Die Forelle (The Trout)
Franz Schubert was inspired to write The Trout Quintet while watching fly fishermen on holiday in rural Austria. Bridget Mermikides reels in this great piece for you.
For this latest classical guitar arrangement we return to the work of one of the ‘greats’, the astoundingly prolific Austrian composer Franz Schubert. By his untimely death barely in his 30s, Schubert had composed over one and a half thousand works. These included 20 string quartets, seven symphonies, several masses and – perhaps his most enduring legacy - over 600 songs for piano and voice. The work rate to achieve this (not to mention with beautiful pensmanship) beggars belief. In one year alone he composed over 20,000 bars of music (half of them for orchestra). During his short lifetime, the general public and music community did not quite catch up with his brilliance, experimentalism and contribution to Western Art Music, so sadly Schubert was only appreciated by a tight group of friends and astute listeners. Here I’ve selected one of Franz’s well-loved ‘lieder’, Die Forelle (catalogue number op.32 D550), composed in 1817 when he was barely in his 20s. A ‘lied’ is a long tradition of musical setting of a poem, a craft in which Schubert is a widely recognised master. Here Schubert used the poem Die Forelle (The Trout) by the German poet and musician Christian Friedrich Daniel Schubart telling a story of a trout caught by a fisherman. The final verse reveals it to be a moral story warning young woman against the advances of men, although this verse is often dropped in performances and recordings for a variety of reasons. Compositionally, the simple melody is supported by a flowing arpeggio pattern a musical depiction of a swimming fish. The piece is in modified strophic form, Strophic form is simple a series of verses with similar music such as Amazing Grace, Blowin’ In the Wind, Bridge Over Troubled Water. This piece follows a similar repeated verse from (verse 1, bars 1-30; verse 2, bars 31- 58), but the third verse (from bar 59) is modified - particularly harmonically - depicting the capture of the trout.
The original key of is dropped a semitone to C, and due to the fairly conventional harmony (of the three primary chords C, F and G, and the dominant of the G, D7), it is largely based around familiar open-position chord forms providing some fretting-hand relief. The fluid figures in bars 29-30, require fretting-hand slurs, but again the open positioning helps the technique.
The most challenging section is in the modified verse where the harmonic sequence obliges the use of higher-position barre chords, and some fretting-hand stamina. This section only occurs once but may take some time to absorb technically. The tab captions will help with such challenges and enable you to get to grips with this timeless piece. Finally, make sure you use your guitar ‘tuna’ and practice your ‘scales’. Doh!
NEXT MONTH How Can I Keep From Singing, by Robert Wadsworth Lowry
by his untimely deat h bar ely in his 30s, schubert had composed over one and a half thousa nd works
Schubert actually hated the thought of the trout being caught and landed