Saturday, June 23 , 2018, 7:18 pm | Overcast 65º


Gerald Carpenter: UCSB’s Paul Berkowitz to Perform All-Schubert Piano Recital

UCSB piano meister Paul Berkowitz will perform an all-Franz Schubert piano recital at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall, in the UCSB Music Building.

Paul Berkowit
Paul Berkowitz

Professor Berkowitz's program will include Schubert's Six Moments Musicaux (1828), D. 780, the Twelve German Dances, D. 790 (1823), the Piano Fantasy in C-Major, D. 605a, "Grazer Fantasy" (1818) and the Three Piano Pieces, D. 946 (1828).

Berkowitz is in the middle of a large-scale Schubert recording project that is likely to become as definitive a vision of the composer's piano works as we are likely to get in our generation. Certainly a coherent treatment of any genre of Schubert's compositions — especially by an artist as sensitive and intelligent as Berkowitz — will be most welcome, for there is much that is baffling about this composer. About the only thing about him that is easy to understand is his enduring popularity.

Schubert's fans form as distinct a group of music lovers as those obsessed with Italian opera. Many of those devoted to classical music — including most of the musicians I know — put Johann Sebastian Bach at the summit of composers. Yet they only aver that Bach is the greatest composer, not the only one.

Many of the Schubertians I know, on the other hand, seldom listen to anyone else: He fulfills all their requirements. They aren't so much music lovers as Schubert lovers. Still, while I have many quarrels with Bach supremacists, when I encounter an ardent Schubertian, no grounds for argument ever present themselves. The Schubertians enjoy an irreducible bond with their idol, and there is nothing to be said about it.

Schubert's music, indeed, inspires little in the way of intellectual activity. You need no educational background or wide musical experience. He is as accessible as Pyotr Tchaikovsky. Mainly, he is a songwriter, whether there are words being sung or not. Emotional simplicity is his strongest suit, and he is best appreciated in these small works, as in his songs. He puts you immediately inside the emotional landscape of each piece, and makes it impossible to do anything but let yourself be carried along. Generally, when a piece ends, we wish it would go on.

Schubert's difficulties with larger scaled works are well-documented. When a musicologist says that the symphonies of Bruckner are influenced by Schubert's symphonies, he is not complimenting either composer, but saying that the works of both are shapeless and sprawling.

It seems to me that Schubert had very little influence as a piano composer. Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Liszt and Robert Schumann were the movers and shapers there. In the seemingly fundamental matter of thematic development, Schubert usually gets a C-. But, when one musician asked Igor Stravinsky if Schubert's rambling developments didn't put him to sleep, Stravinsky replied, "Yes, but what does it matter if, when I wake up, I am in Paradise?"

Tickets to Berkowitz's Schubert recital are $10 for general admission and $5 for all students except UCSB students, who will be admitted free.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >