Schubert String Quartet no. 14 'Death and the Maiden', D. 810

Franz Schubert wrote his String Quartet no. 14 in D minor, popularly known as Death and the Maiden, in 1824. At this point, Schubert had passed through a series of afflictions and illnesses (he was sick for much of 1823) and realised he was close to his death. He was also in financial trouble, having entered a publishing deal with Diabelli that wasn't yielding good results. In the midst of his depression and poverty, nonetheless, he had continued writing light and cheerful music. Death and the Maiden departs from that approach, being a heavily dramatic work. Its name stems from the second movement, which is based on Schubert's own 1817 lied "Der Tod und das Mädchen", D 531 (on a text by  Matthias Claudius). The theme of death permeates the whole work, and some have considered Schubert's testament to death. It was premiered in a private home in 1826, and published posthumously in 1831. It has since become a pillar of the chamber repertoire, being widely used in popular funerals in many forms and adaptations. It has also inspired a number of similar works.


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String Quartet no. 14, Death and the Maiden, D. 810