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Franz Schubert: Sakontala: Score


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About Franz Schubert's opera 'Sakontala' During the autumn of 1820 Schubert started working on a large-scale romantic opera in three acts (and with partly spoken dialogue) for soloists choir and orchestra. The text was based on the classical poet Kalidasa’s drama 'Sakontala' and a friend of Schubert (professor ofphysics Johann Phillip Neumann) wrote the libretto. For unknown reasons Schubert never completed the opera. In the standard literature on Schubert this fragment is usually referred to as a minor totally incomplete torso. During the summer of 2001 the Finnish 'cultural entrepreneur' Antti Sairanen decided to investigate the possibility of 'rescuing' one of Schubert's numerous unfinished works for the stage by attempting to produce a performable version. Among his choices 'Sakontala' (because of the quality of the original Kalidasa text) became a preferred item. In the spring of 2002 he contacted me with this general idea and we decided to have a closer look at the Sakontala fragment. Sairanen managed to obtain a copy of the fragment from the international Schubert society in Tübingen. One of the ideas discussed was to attempt a 'rendering' of Schubert’s unfinished music combined with new music composed by me - accepting the inevitable stylistic 'clash' as a virtue. To my amazement however the 'fragment' proved to consist of more than 400 pages of unknown music by Schubert in his own hand. The fragment consisted of pages with 16 staves organised as an orchestral score. Schubert had fully written and composed the vocal parts with text. But only very rarely and sporadically did he write accompaniment hint at


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Wilhelm Hansen


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