Thursday Evening a the Concert: Schubert – Der Tod und das Madchen (“Death and the Maiden”) , Strings Quartet in D Minor, Op. 14, D810

Franz Schubert
String quartet No. 14 d minor, D810 ‘Death and the Maiden’

I. Allegro

II. Andante con moto

III. Scherzo: Allegro molto / IV. Presto

Nachum Erlich
Chamber orchestra of the Music Conservatory Karlsruhe

Live Recording 24.1.2011 Crown Hall, Jerusalem

FRANZ SCHUBERT (1797-1828)

String quartet no. 14 in D minor “Der Tod und das Madchen” D810

Performed by the Takacs Quartet


*The String Quartet in D minor was written in 1824, just after Schubert became aware of his ruined health. It is popularly known as the “Death and the Maiden” Quartet because the second movement is adapted from the piano accompaniment to Schubert’s 1817 song (or lied), “Death and the Maiden”.

Ariel Dorfman‘s 1991 play “Death and the Maiden” and its 1994 film adaptation (directed by Roman Polanski) take their names from the quartet. 

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Original manuscript of Death and the Maiden quartet, from The Mary Flagler Cary Music Collection, Morgan Library, NY

Original manuscript of Lied Death and the Maiden

The String Quartet No. 14 in D minor, known as Death and the Maiden, by Franz Schubert, is one of the pillars of the chamber music repertoire. Composed in 1824, after the composer suffered through a serious illness and realized that he was dying, it is Schubert’s testament to death. The quartet is named for the theme of the second movement, which Schubert took from a song he wrote in 1817 of the same title; but the theme of death is palpable in all four movements of the quartet.

The quartet was first played in 1826 in a private home, and was not published until 1831, three years after Schubert’s death. Yet, passed over in his lifetime, the quartet has become a staple of the quartet repertoire. It is D. 810 in Otto Erich Deutsch‘s thematic catalog of Schubert’s works.

1823 and 1824 were hard years for Schubert. For much of 1823 he was sick with an outburst of tertiary stage syphilis, and in May had to be hospitalized.[1] He was broke: he had entered into a disastrous deal with Diabelli to publish a batch of works, and received almost no payment; and his latest attempt at opera, Fierabras, was a flop. In a letter to a friend, he wrote,

“Think of a man whose health can never be restored, and who from sheer despair makes matters worse instead of better. Think, I say, of a man whose brightest hopes have come to nothing, to whom love and friendship are but torture, and whose enthusiasm for the beautiful is fast vanishing; and ask yourself if such a man is not truly unhappy.”[2]

The quartet takes its name from the lied “Der Tod und das Mädchen” (“Death and the Maiden, D.531), which Schubert wrote in 1817. The theme of the song – a setting of a poem by that name by Matthias Claudius. – is the theme of the second movement of the quartet. The theme is a death knell that accompanies the song about the terror and comfort of death:

Death and the Maiden

Peter Schöne (baritone) and Boris Cepeda (piano)


Der Tod und das Mädchen, Hans Baldung Grien, 1517

The Maiden:

Oh! leave me! Prithee, leave me! thou grisly man of bone!
For life is sweet, is pleasant.
Go! leave me now alone!
Go! leave me now alone!


Give me thy hand, oh! maiden fair to see,
For I’m a friend, hath ne’er distress’d thee.
Take courage now, and very soon
Within mine arms shalt softly rest thee!”[12]
 Takacs Quartet has a great interpretation of this string quartet        here 

2 responses to “Thursday Evening a the Concert: Schubert – Der Tod und das Madchen (“Death and the Maiden”) , Strings Quartet in D Minor, Op. 14, D810

  1. Pingback: ***String Quartet No. 14 in D Minor, D.810 “Der Tod und das Mädchen” (Death and the Maiden) – Alban Berg Quartet: great compositions/performances | euzicasa

  2. Pingback: Renée Fleming chante Schubert avec Claudio Abbado | Petit Journal de la Science des Données

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