Piano Sonata in G major, D 894 (Schubert)

The Piano Sonata in G major D. 894, Op. 78 by Franz Schubert is a sonata for solo piano, completed in October 1826. The work is sometimes called the "Fantasie", a title which the publisher Tobias Haslinger, rather than Schubert, gave to the first movement of the work.[1] It was the last of Schubert's sonatas published during his lifetime, and was later described by Robert Schumann as the "most perfect in form and conception" of any of Schubert's sonatas.[2] A typical performance runs approximately 35 minutes.


The sonata consists of four movements:

  1. Molto moderato e cantabile (G major, largely conforming to sonata form)
  2. Andante (D major, with two trios, the first in B minor, the relative minor, and the second in the parallel minor, D minor)
  3. Menuetto: Allegro moderato - Trio (B minor, trio in B major)
  4. Allegretto (G major)

Mood and character

The English pianist and Schubert specialist Imogen Cooper has described the G major sonata as "one of the rare completely serene sonatas that he wrote," adding, "Of course, as ever with him, there are contrasting passages which become stormy and a little bit dark, but the overall mood is one of peace and luminosity, in a way that the G Major string quartet, written a few months before, was most definitely not." She noted further that "the last movement has tremendous wit in it — and one or two moments of great poignancy, as if a cloud suddenly covered the sun, and then the sun comes out again."[3]

The opening theme of the third movement is remarkably similar to the second theme of the first movement of Schubert's second Piano Trio both in rhythm and in note progression.

Peter Pesic commented on Donald Francis Tovey's observation that Schubert used a "circle of sixths" series of key signatures in the fourth movement of this sonata, in the sequence G → E → B = C → G = A.[4]

Sviatoslav Richter stated that this was his favourite Schubert sonata.[5] He is notable for his extremely slow interpretation of the first movement,[6] and solemn account of the work, making the whole sonata usually last over 45 minutes in total.



  1. McCreless, Patrick (Spring 1997). "A Candidate for the Canon? A New Look at Schubert's Fantasie in C Major for Violin and Piano". 19th-Century Music. 20 (3): 205–230. doi:10.1525/ncm.1997.20.3.02a00020. JSTOR 746862.
  2. Grant Hirosima, for LAPhil.com.
  3. Imogen Cooper interview on BBC Radio 3, included in broadcast of Schubert piano recital on May 1, 2009
  4. Pesic, Peter (Autumn 1999). "Schubert's Dream". 19th-Century Music. 23 (2): 136–144. doi:10.1525/ncm.1999.23.2.02a00020. JSTOR 746920.
  5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVhxqEN9j7k#t=19m41s
  6. Stephen Johnson reports on the 21-CD 'authorised' edition : "The first movement of Schubert's G major Sonata, D 894, is breathtakingly slow - the opening hardly seems to move at all. Richter's argument is that Schubert's marking, Molto moderato, refers to the quaver beat, not the dotted crotchet. In pure musicological terms, I don't imagine many Schubertians will be convinced, yet somehow Richter's concentrated, intensely absorbed playing persuaded me to suspend disbelief."
Piano sonatas (2 hands) by Franz Schubert
Preceded by
Sonata in D major (D. 850)
AGA, Series 10 (15 sonatas)
No. 12
Succeeded by
Sonata in C minor (D. 958)
21 Sonatas numbering system
No. 18
23 Sonatas numbering system
No. 20

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