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Observations placeholder

Schubert - Symphony no. 8 in B minor D 759



Type of Spiritual Experience


Symphony in B minor Unfinished

Despite his preoccupation with the stage, and later with his official duties, Schubert found time during his last years for a significant amount of composition. He completed the Mass in A-flat major (D. 678) and, in 1822, embarked suddenly on a work which more decisively than almost any other in those years showed his maturing personal vision, the Symphony in B minor Unfinished (D. 759). The reason he left it unfinished after two movements and sketches some way into a third remains an enigma, and it is also remarkable that he did not mention it to any of his friends even though, as Brian Newbould notes, he must have felt thrilled by what he was achieving. The event has been debated endlessly without resolution.

Schubert started in 1822 but completed only two movements—though he lived for another six years. A scherzo, nearly completed in piano score but with only two pages orchestrated, also survives.

This appears to be the time that Schubert’s descent into illness occurred from heavy metal poisoning.  Whether it was from mercury or lead is somewhat insignificant as both produce very severe effects, although spiritually they can have dramatic effects as Beethoven found out.  Even those who speculate he had syphilis and that the mercury poisoning came from the doctor’s ‘cure’ – mercury, simply add to the picture we have, as syphilis can also produce extreme experiences.  Forced entry to the spiritual in a major way and a sure-fire understanding of your own mortality, as death is certain one way or the other

Schubert's eighth symphony is sometimes called the first Romantic symphony due to its emphasis on expressive melody, vivid harmony, and creative combinations of orchestral tone colour despite the architecturally imposing Classical structures of its two completed movements highlighted by the dramatically climactic development section of the first movement based solely on its quietly sinister opening theme.

A description of the experience

Schubert - Symphony no. 8 in B minor D 759 "Unfinished" (KARAJAN - Philarmonia Orchestra)


The source of the experience


Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps