Schubert: An Emma
I’m going to have to make an admission that I’m positive will get me in a lot of trouble: I don’t really like Schubert. I know he’s meant to be brilliant and the father/king of traditional Art Song but I just don’t get it!! I find his songs often quite boring, musically and dramatically dull, and the texts often bore me to tears (and the few exceptions – for example Erlkönig – are horribly overdone). But last fall Jillian Zack (a wonderful pianist) and I were invited to go to compete in the Wigmore Hall final rounds in London and as part of our programming we had to include in each round some amount of Schubert Lieder. So I grudgingly began a long search to go through pages and pages of music to find Schubert songs that both fit in our program and also didn’t put me to sleep.
In my search I did happen to find one song which very few people know (a YouTube search garners only a few results, for example) but I find it to be absolutely gorgeous, captivating, and original. The song is “An Emma” and it’s a beautiful example of how even a short song can take you on a journey, explore a dizzying array of ideas and thoughts, and leave you both satisfied and wanting more.