Franz songs ranged in various tempi, the indicator that

Franz
Schubert was considered the leader composer of German Lieder from the 19th
century, writing over 200 lieder.  The
characteristics prominent in Schubert’s style varied throughout his career,
although his writing had distinctive traits. 
In his early writing, most of his songs derived of simple melodic lines,
consisting of being written in strophic form, where numerous verses were the
same melodically; however, each verse presented different text.  It was also common that many of his songs
were written in ABA form.  The
accompaniment often times doubled the melody. 
The interlude would introduce the main melody or melodic theme of the song,
and in the main sections of the song, the harmony complemented the melody
line.  However, while the melody and
accompaniment aligned together harmonically, the most unique and memorable
trait was that there were always elements of a harmonic change, emphasizing a
dissonance on a specific word within the text he wanted to stretch or highlight
within each phrase.  These words were
usually words that were important elements of the story of the particular poem
or significant descriptions of something in nature, a time or place, and some
of the emphasis was put on certain emotions Schubert wanted to convey in writing. 

            It was also typical that he also had
various key changes through his songs, especially when he was transitioning
from section A to section B, then maneuvering back to the original key when
returning to section A.  Although his
songs ranged in various tempi, the
indicator that the song was distinctively Schubert’s lied in the fact that he
wrote very fluid, legato melody lines. 
It was very common to see slowly ascending lines followed by descending
lines in order to move his songs in metronomic, steady tempo.  In addition, these ascending and descending
lines moved the direction of intensity of where the songs were headed.  To contrast his other songs, it was common to
see a slow legato line not moving in significant range, sitting in the middle
range of the voice in a mood stillness.  However
at times, there were slow legato lines which appeared while displaying an
extensive range, where low, middle, and parts of the upper register were
explored in a short song.  Such an
example is in Wanderer’s Nachtlied, written
for the baritone voice.

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            Schubert writing was solely inspired
by the texts he set his songs to.  They
were the main motivation for his reason to compose.   Although he wrote separate songs on their
own, Schubert was well-known for his song cycles or set of songs, that were
written by the same poet and most likely had a main theme, idea, or journey
being embarked upon.  Where his earlier
songs  consisted of ones that were set to
a more broad, general sense of text, such as telling a story within the song,
his later works brought out all of the strengths of Schubert as a composer and
his humanistic nature in his wise, mature years.  Such an example is clearly seen in the song
cycle Die Winterreise.  Although this cycle tells numerous stories in
each movement, there is a general theme of love, heartbreak, reflecting upon
past memories in a very vivid manner.  Many
of the songs and the conveyed meanings within the text and in a musical sense
symbolize different periods of the character telling the story in the song
cycle. 

 

            Lied composition was what Schubert
was known and still remembered for.  This
is what his focus and passion was.  Where
other Lieder composers may have also written orchestration with piano and
included orchestra, Schubert was fulfilled exclusively with his piano
accompaniments.  Schubert did not write
opera, although he did write instrumental works and was especially successful
with his chamber pieces.  Schubert did
not have to write other forms of composition because it was justified that
Lieder was Schubert’s main domain and area of expertise.