Symphony No. 8 in B minor (“Unfinished”), D. 759

Few works in the classical repertoire are surrounded by more mystery than Schubert’s Symphony in B minor. To start with, the numbering is problematic. The work is usually considered to be the ‘Eighth’; however, it was in fact composed earlier than what is traditionally referred to as his ‘Seventh’, the ‘Great’ Symphony in C major. Being ‘unfinished’ is debatable too in that over the past century and a half it was generally believed that Schubert never even intended to add new movements to the composition, having ‘said it all’ in two movements already. However, to the best knowledge of modern scholarship, that is considered to be a Romantic fancy, given that Schubert provided a highly detailed sketch of the third movement (even if he only produced a few bars of the orchestration) and is believed to have completed the finale too (whose completed form was ‘rescued’ by means of the famous interlude in the incidental music Rosamunda). Moreover, there is absolutely nothing to show he ever considered the autograph manuscript consisting of two movements to be a completed work. Consequently, even the existence of the manuscript was forgotten and the symphony was discovered and premiered decades after Schubert’s death in December 1865 by Johann von Herbeck.