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Schubert image

Franz Schubert (1797–1828)
String Quartet in D Minor, D. 810 ("Der Tod und das Mädchen")
Autograph manuscript, incomplete, 1824
24 x 31 cm
The Mary Flagler Cary Music Collection; Cary 72
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The nickname of Schubert's penultimate string quartet derives from the second movement, a theme with variations based on the piano accompaniment to his song "Der Tod und das Mädchen" (Death and the Maiden). After a private performance in the apartment of the composer Franz Lachner, the first violinist—who, owing to his advanced age, was clearly not up to the task—turned to Schubert and (according to Lachner) declared: "'My dear fellow, this is no good, leave it alone; you stick to your songs!' Whereupon Schubert silently packed up the sheets of music and shut them away in his desk forever—a self-denial and modesty that one would look for in vain in many a present-day composer."

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The programs of The Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.