Wednesday, August 30, 2017

August 30, 1969: Documentary filmed of Franz Schubert's Trout Quintet

Last updated August 29, 2018.

Quintet for piano, violin, viola, cello & double bass in A major ("Trout"), D. 667 (Op. posth. 114)

Franz Schubert (composer)

Composed: 1819

Filmed for Documentary: August 30, 1969

Sales: --

Peak: --

Quotable: --

Genre: classical > chamber music


  1. Allegro vivace
  2. Andante
  3. Scherzo: Presto
  4. Theme: Andantino
  5. Finale: Allegro guisto

Average Duration: 35:42


“In the summer of 1819, Schubert traveled with the famous baritone Johann Michael Vogl to the river town of Steyr, where there was an abundance of musical activity. Schubert and Vogl’s performance of the some of the composer’s songs – especially Erlkönig (Schubert himself taking the part of the father!) and Die Forelle (The Trout) – attracted the notice of Sylvester Paumgartner, a wealthy mining executive and an accomplished cellist, who then commissioned Schubert to write a quintet based on ‘The Trout’ (and perhaps patterned after a work by Hummel that he had in his collection). The resulting ‘Trout’ quintet – scored for the unusual combination of piano, violin, viola, violoncello, and double bass – has become one of Schubert’s more enduring chamber works, and it is typical of his early style. A notable feature is the integration of the piano part into the musical texture, on equal terms with those of the string players. In his own writing, Schubert referred to typical piano music as "damnable thumping" and insists in this work, as in his others, that it behave as an orderly and equal member of an ensemble.” AMG

“The first movement is disproportionately long at 13 minutes, nearly a third of the length of the entire five-movement work. It is a joyful movement in sonata-allegro form, propelled forward by piano arpeggios and triplet figures in the strings. A lyrical andante follows, sweetly expressive in the minor mode, and avoiding any sense of melancholy. It features three themes, one of which allows for an extended piano solo.” AMG

“The brief third movement, a presto, begins aggressively but becomes a sort of ‘dance poem’ containing Austrian folk tunes. The rhythmic impetus is unflagging.” AMG

“This leads to the work’s signature movement, the theme and variations on ‘Die Forelle (The Trout).’ Potentially tedious, the theme and variations form is ingenious and satisfying in Schubert’s hands – each variation is both individually engaging and integral to the whole. As in the first movement, the piano is thoroughly intermingled with the strings and the resulting sound is nearly symphonic (an exception to this is the third variation, which is a swirling piano cascade with subdued string accompaniment).” AMG

“The final movement is simple and light with a swirling, almost ‘gypsy’ sound that can be reminiscent of Dvorák at times. Like the third and fourth movements, the last seems to be broken into smaller units, in the style of a set of dances. Although he had already written 11 string quartets by the time of the ‘Trout’ Quintet, this composition represents Schubert’s first truly significant chamber work. His ability to blend and balance this combination of instruments seems instinctive and the piece is rightly considered one of his most popular and best early works.” AMG

No dates were found for a premiere performance, but a documentary, The Trout, captured five musicians – Daniel Barenboim (piano), Itzhak Perlman (violin), Pinchas Zukerman (viola), Jacqueline du Pré (cello) and Zubin Mehta (double bass) – coming together to play the famed quintet on August 30, 1969. The Guardian called it “one of the best-loved and most successful classical music documentaries ever made.” CN

Review Source(s):


Related DMDB Link(s):

Saturday, August 26, 2017

50 years ago: Bobbie Gentry “Ode to Billie Joe” hit #1

Ode to Billie Joe

Bobbie Gentry

Writer(s): Bobbie Gentry (see lyrics here)

First Charted: July 21, 1967

Peak: 14 US, 14 CB, 12 GR, 14 HR, 7 AC, 17 CW, 13 UK, 11 CN, 4 AU (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 13.6 video, 17.83 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Bobbie Gentry was born Roberta Lee Streeter in 1942. She grew up in Chickasaw County, Mississippi in a house without electricity. She later studied at UCLA and worked as a nightclub performer and model before recording her “massive, boundary-crushing hit” SG “Ode to Billie Joe” in 1967. The “haunting southern Gothic drama” TC was originally seven minutes long, but after it was whittled down to four, it was released as her debut single. Gentry’s “smoky tenor voice was pure southern sexuality” TC but also “chilly and controlled…mirroring the sort of traumatized in-shock blankness that her narrator radiated.” SG “The song isn’t soul or country or jazz.” SG It “was unlike anything Top 40 audiences had heard in years.” SS

The song is “the work of a master storyteller” SS “where the story matters at least as much as the song.” SG It is “a gripping, first-person narrative unfolding a mysterious tale” SS about Billie Joe McAllister, a boy who jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge. He and the narrator threw something off the bridge, but what? “Maybe they were just flowers, like what the narrator throws a year after Billie Joe’s death. Maybe a wedding ring. Maybe a draft card. Maybe drugs. Maybe a baby. Gentry never said.” SG It has even been theorized that it “was the collective innocence of the American people” SS being tossed off the bridge. 14-year-old Emmett Till’s body was thrown in the Tallahatchie River in 1955, helping to ignite the civil rights movement. SS

Gentry said it didn’t matter. The song was about how “the people in the song treat each other. Even in a tight-knit rural family, there’s no empathy,” SG which the listener witnesses at the onset of the song when the Mississippi family apathetically discussed the suicide at the dinner table. In addition, the narrator and her mother are, as Gentry said, “unable to recognize their mutual loss or share their grief” TC when the father dies.

“Ode” sparked an answer song from Bob Dylan; covers from Ella Fitzgerald, Tammy Wynette, and others; and even a Warner Bros. movie nine years later. Amusingly, Chickasaw County police had to start fining people for jumping off the Tallahatchie Bridge, which was only 20 feet of the ground. SG Gentry managed a few more top-40 hits, but recorded her last album in 1971 and eventually vanished from public life, living in a gated Memphis community.


First posted 4/17/2023.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

50 years ago: The Beatles hit #1 with “All You Need Is Love”

All You Need Is Love

The Beatles

Writer(s): John Lennon, Paul McCartney (see lyrics here)

Released: July 7, 1967

First Charted: July 12, 1967

Peak: 11 US, 12 CB, 11 GR, 12 HR, 1 CL, 13 UK, 12 CN, 15 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.2 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 1.0 radio, 17.8 video, 130.0 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The Beatles wrote “All You Need Is Love” for a BBC broadcast called Our World which would be the first worldwide simultaneous television broadcast via satellite. The group was asked to “keep it simple so that everyone everywhere will understand it.” HL Paul McCartney said “We’d been told we’d be seen recording it by the whole world at the same time so we had our message for the whole world – love – we need more love in the world.” HL

The Beatles performed the song on June 25, 1967 for an estimated audience of 400 million in 26 nations SF Although the broadcast was live, the backing track was pre-recorded. SF The Fab Four also brought in an orchestra of two trumpets, two trombones, two saxophones, four violins, two cellos, and an accordion for the performance. FB The orchestra wore white dinner jackets while the Beatles were garbed in the psychedelic clothing associated with their 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They were also accompanied by an-star chorus including Donovan, Marianne Faithfull, Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Keith Moon, Graham Nash, and Keith Richards.

After the program, the group recorded the song and edited it down to four minutes for release as a single. It was the first attempt by John Lennon to “write a message song that everybody could sing.” KL The song was deliberately intended to be simple so that it could “be understood by people of all nations.” SF John sings lead and plays a keyboard-amplifier hybrid known as the clavioline. FB

The phrase “all you need is love” was “a popular saying in the ‘60s anti-war movement.” SF John was fascinated with how slogans could effect the masses and wanted to capture the essence of songs like “We Shall Overcome.” SF It is considered a landmark song of the psychedelic era and could be considered the anthem for the Summer of Love. It became the group’s 14th #1 single in the United States.


  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for The Beatles
  • FB Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 228.
  • HL Michael Heatley and Spencer Leigh (1998). Behind the Song: The Stories of 100 Great Pop & Rock Classics. Blandford Books: London, UK. Page 26.
  • KL Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh (2005). 1000 UK Number One Hits: The Stories Behind Every Number One Single Since 1952. London, Great Britain: Omnibus Press. Page 132.
  • SF Songfacts
  • WK Wikipedia

Related Links:

First posted 3/29/2022; last updated 4/13/2023.