Dear Franz…

Sitting on my piano at the moment, waiting for the arbitrary moments I sit down, open up a score and play pages at random, are the Shostakovich Preludes and Fugues, Hindemith’s Ludus Tonalis, and my frequent go-to music, the complete Schubert piano sonatas. Recently, for the first time, I’ve been spending time with the D major sonata. As happens with Schubert, as much as I generally love his work, he occasionally deeply disappoints, marring an otherwise wonderful work with singularly uninspired music. At the encouragement of my friend Karen, when running across such music, I’ve taken to writing letters to the dead – and who knows, maybe there will be an answer!

Dear Franz,

First and foremost, I want to express my deep gratitude to you for all of the wonderful music that you left behind. It is my pleasure to report that the world has made amends, by giving your great music the attention it deserved, but failed to receive in your lifetime. Your glorious melodies and harmonic adventurousness have been recognized by the world and your music is performed everywhere in concert halls and on an invention you may or may not appreciate – the radio.

Over the years, playing through your collected piano sonatas has been a great source of pleasure and solace for me. Of late, I’ve been reading through your D major sonata, which for inexplicable reasons, I hadn’t previously read. The second and third movements are, so far, my favorites and are fine examples of your great talent. However, I am stumped at the last movement rondo, and despite repeated tries, can’t get through it without closing the book with a deep sigh, wondering, what you might have been thinking. Without overly criticizing, it simply isn’t a match for the preceding movements. It has scattered moments of beauty, but these don’t overcome the overall lack of any meritorious ideas. I wonder what might have been going on in your life at the time you were working on it. When abandoned by the muses, why not wait for their return before committing pen to paper?

I realize that you are still busy writing glorious music, so don’t feel obliged to write back – but if you should find a moment, it be delightful to hear from you.


Stanley Grill