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The Sonata in A minor for Arpeggione and Piano, D. 821, was written by Franz Schubert in Vienna in November 1824. The sonata is the only substantial composition for the arpeggione (which was essentially a bowed guitar) which remains extant today. It belongs to the same period as the Death and the Maiden Quartet, when Schubert was suffering from the advanced stages of syphilis and lapsing into increasingly frequent episodes of depression. The piece was probably commissioned by Schubert's friend Vincenz Schuster, who was a virtuoso of the arpeggione, an instrument which had been invented only the previous year. By the time the sonata was published posthumously in 1871, the enthusiasm for the novelty of the arpeggione had long since vanished, together with the instrument itself.[1]

Today, the piece is heard almost exclusively in transcriptions for cello and piano or viola and piano that were arranged after that time, although versions that substitute other instruments, including the double bass, the flute, and the clarinet, or the guitar for the piano part are also performed. [1] Transcribers have attempted to address the problems posed by the smaller playing range of these alternative instruments, in comparison with the arpeggione, as well as the attendant modifications in articulation (4 versus 6 strings).

The work has been recorded in the original version by the following musicians:

  • Klaus Storck and Alfons Kontarsky (1974, LP No 2533 174 on the Archiv Produktion label) (Klaus Storck played an arpeggione attributed to Anton Mitteis, a student of the instrument's inventor, Georg Stauffer; Alfons Kontarsky played a Brodmann fortepiano built in Vienna ca. 1810.
  • Alfred Lessing and Jozef de Beenhouwer (2000-2001, Ars Produktion FCD 368 392). Played on a copy by Henning Aschauer of an early 19th-century instrument built either by J. G. Staufer or by Anton Mitteis, at present in the Musical Instrument Collection of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation and on the 1824 Conrad Graf pianoforte from the Beethoven House in Bonn.
  • Gerhart Darmstadt and Egino Klepper (2005, Cavalli Records CCD 242)
  • Nicolas Deletaille and Paul Badura-Skoda (2006-2007, Fuga Libera FUG529). This recording was made in Firenze (Accademia Bartolomeo Cristofori) on a Benjamen La Brigue arpeggione (2001) and the fortepiano is a Conrad Graf (C. 1820)



The work consists of three movements. A typical performance takes just over 20 minutes.

  1. Allegro moderato;
  2. Adagio;
  3. Allegretto.

Noted Arrangements


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  1. ^ see also: AQUINO, F. Avellar de. "Six-Stringed Virtuoso". The Strad Magazine, Harrow, Middlesex, UK, v. 109, n. 1297, p. 500-507, 1998.(on the Arpeggione and Schubert's Sonata)


  • Aquino, F. Avellar de. "Six-Stringed Virtuoso". in The Strad Magazine, Harrow, Middlesex, UK, v. 109, n. 1297, p. 500-507, May 1998. (Article about the Arpeggione and also on Schubert's Sonata)
  • Sadie, Stanley, ed., The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, vol. 16, 6th. ed., London: Macmillan Press Limited, 1980. s.v. “Schubert, Franz” by Maurice J. E. Brown.
  • Tree, Michael, “Schubert’s Arpeggione Sonata.” The Strad Magazine, vol. 105, February 1994, p.142. (Master-Class on the Sonata)

External links



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