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[1797 - 1828]

Schubert's Death Mask

link to biography of Schubert

Fantasy in C Major, D. 934;
arranged for flute solo and string orchestra

an orchestration by Mark Starr
of Schubert's original work for violin and piano,
composed in 1828

A demo recording of this arrangement -- realized with digital musical sounds -- will begin to play automatically upon opening this page.  If you do not wish listen to it, please click on the STOP button (or the PAUSE button) on the media player, below. You may wish to adjust the volume on your computer to a more comfortable level.


To the eternal regret of violinists everywhere, Franz Schubert never composed a violin concerto. Nor did he ever compose a flute concerto.  However, in contrast to Beethoven, and also to Mozart (who professed to dislike the flute), Schubert took the flute seriously as a major solo instrument.

He composed a magnificent set of variations for flute and piano, based on his song "Die Trockne Blumen." This is one of the most technically demanding and artistically challenging works for flute and piano from the Late Classical period. These flute/piano variations demonstrate that Schubert viewed the flute as a virtuoso solo instrument on a par with the violin. One wonders: if Schubert had lived past age 31 (he died two years younger than Mozart), might he have composed a flute concerto?

This arrangement for flute solo and string orchestra of Schubert's Fantasy in C Major, D. 934 (originally composed for violin and piano) is an attempt by Mark Starr to fill that glaring gap in the concert repertoire.  It is hoped that this orchestration will make this extraordinary music available to concert flutists appearing as soloist with string orchestras or chamber orchestras.

While not exactly a concerto (on the model of let's say Beethoven's Violin Concerto,) the Fantasy in C major, D. 934 for flute and piano is a large-scale virtuoso work in seven continuous sections that correspond roughly to three connected movements in some concertos. Without repeats, the work lasts 22 minutes. With the optional repeats, the duration is roughly 27 minutes.

Composed in 1828 during Schubert's last few months of life (as his health deteriorated from the severe case of syphillis that would soon kill him,) the Fantasy is one of his supreme instrumental masterpieces. It is Mark Starr's contention that Schubert conceived the Fantasy in C major as a work for violin solo and orchestra; but his deteriorating health forced him to set the music down on paper for violin and piano. The piano part is symphonic in texture and full of orchestral effects - beginning with the breath-taking, almost inaudible tremolo that opens the work.   In terms of range and technique, the solo parts lends itself well to adaptation for the flute.  However, the music's demands on a flutist's breath control and stamina are enormous.

In 1828, faced with the looming prospect of impending doom from syphillis, Schubert was obsessively determined to leave for posterity at least some of the wealth of music that was still within him, in the limited time that he had left. The result was perhaps the greatest burst creative energy in musical history. In less than one year, Schubert produced a steady stream of masterpieces in many genres - up until the final sketches for his tenth symphony.

The Fantasy in C Major was never performed in Schubert's lifetime.  

In addition to this arrangement for flute solo and string orchestra, Mark Starr has also made an alternate version, an arrangement for violin solo solo and chamber orchestra.  This alternate version can also be found on Noteworthy Musical Editions' website.

The full score Mark Starr's orchestral arrangement of the Fantasy in C Major is available for perusal, audition, purchase, downloading and printing on www.sibeliusmusic.com .  Here are three link to the full score, which is posted in three parts:

Part 1: 

The second part of Schubert's Fantasy in C Major, D. 934, contains a theme and variations based on Schubert's memorable song 'Sei mir gegrüsst!' (I Greet You!, D. 741) This section is the lyrical and emotional high point of the entire work. Following the song/theme, Schubert presents four variations -- each one progressively more intricate and passionate. Then, a developmental reprise of the introductory tremolo section serves as a transition to the exhilarating finale (Part 3.)

Part 2: 

The finale of Schubert's Fantasy in C Major is in three sections. It begins with an exalted theme that recalls Beethoven (who had died less than one year earlier.) In addition to heralding this celebratory theme, the solo violin plays decorative material of great virtuosity. The middle section is a developmental reprise of the earlier Andantino -- essentially a fifth variation to the lied 'Sei mir gegrüsst!' This final variation dissipates into thin air. The silence is broken by a furious coda that makes enormous technical demands on both the soloist and the orchestra.

Part 3:

Also available for purchase, downloading and printing -- together with the full score -- is a separate part for flute solo.  The flute solo part closely matches the violin part in Schubert's original.  However, Mr. Starr has made many editorial modifications -- principally in the form of changes in dynamics, to make the solo part clearly audible against the string orchestra textures.  

Moreover, the flute solo part includes fragments of the part for the first violins, during the pauses in the flute solo part.  This device enables the solo flutist to join with the orchestra in tutti sections. This practice allows the soloist to optionally conduct the work from the flute. The solo and tutti sections are clearly marked.

Lastly, the solo flute part contains new rehearsal letters, which are indispensible for rehearsals with orchestra.


2 oboes
2 bassoons
2 horns

Mark Starr orchestral arrangement is copyright and registered with ASCAP.