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Schubert's Swan Song

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After Franz Schubert died at the age of 31, his brother gathered some manuscripts of songs and sold them to a publisher. The songs had no common theme, but they decided to give the collection the name "Swan Songs."

The songs did not sell, and were neglected for ten years until piano arrangements were made of them by Franz Liszt, who performed these transcription at a concert to benefit the victims of a flood in Hungary that wiped out the city of Pest (now part of Budapest).

Today, when a football coach announces that he is leaving the team, sports announcers refer to the speech as "his swan song." They likely have never heard of Schubert, but these songs proved so influential, that the term "swan song" has entered the English vocabulary as someone's parting or dying statement.

From the collection "Swan Songs" this is the Serenade. (Other songs from this collection by Schubert that I have arranged are Doppelgänger and Die Stadt.) In a collection of sad songs, it is probably the saddest song ever written.

This music, based on the Liszt transcription, was made using only Sibelius 3 and the various MIDI patches in QuickTime. If you object to making music using such software, or if you know someone who says that music made on a computer sounds stiff and mechanical, play this for them.

The sheet music for this piece is available for a nominal fee at
my page at SibeliusMusic where you can also watch the music go by as the tune plays.
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Song Stats
Hits: 7274
Comments: 5
Fans: 0
Plays: 753
Downloads: 146
Votes: 4
Uploaded: Sep 14, 2005 - 04:57:58 PM
Last Updated: Jul 15, 2006 - 10:25:23 PM Last Played: Aug 02, 2019 - 08:18:49 AM
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drakonis said 5116 days ago (September 14th, 2005)
Interesting transcription
The glockenspiel & calliope, not something I would have
thought of to use as instruments for this touching piece, but
it seems to work OK. Schubert was definitely the songsmith,
and this is a great one (and I'm not saying that just because
my music is posted under "SchwanSongs", a play on this very
turn of phrase :-) By the way, thank you for taking time to
do a bit of explanation/education in your music descriptions,
I watch for your stuff partly for this fun background you
Check out my latest song called Miwok
thetiler said 5116 days ago (September 14th, 2005)
love the explanation on the songs mixed
with this thrilling melodic timey musical gem.

These is a real precious gem, Especially posting about the
composer adds such emotional flavor!

Thanks so much for sharing!
Check out my latest song called They Went Underground
Magritte said 5116 days ago (September 14th, 2005)
Very nice orchestration
I like the use of unexpected instruments very much, and you do a great job of bringing the different sounds in and out, both maintaining variety and creating unity without repetition.

However, I am sorry to say that there IS something mechanical about this piece (I wouldn't call it "stiff" though). The volume changes are not smooth -- meaning it's very clear where they jump up a notch -- and the repeated notes in some instruments have a definite synthesizer sound to them.

I certainly have no objections myself to music being made in this way -- I really like synthy versions of classical music and have done a couple of my own -- but I don't think I would play this for someone I was trying to convince that computerized music can sound like the real thing. I WOULD play it for someone, however, who wanted to hear a lovely and unusual version of this piece.
Check out my latest song called Tango Macabre
Monkaton said 5116 days ago (September 14th, 2005)
Swany, how I love you
You are right it is a beautiful piece of music. Your
production is good, although some of it has a carnival feel
to it, which may have been intentional, but I thought
lessened the somber mood.

Your playing is very good. Very moving.

Very good work.
Check out my latest song called Blue Tie
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