The fifth episode of the second season of the LA Philharmonic Sound Stage was called “Unfinished,” centered on Schubert’s 8thsymphony, known as the “Unfinished Symphony.” Dudamel introduced the piece and said that unfinished pieces have a sense of mystery. We don’t really know why Schubert didn’t finish the symphony, he only wrote two movements.
I played this piece in high school - - did you know I played string bass in my high school orchestra? My brother Patrick was first chair cello, so the conductor, Mrs. Jennings, knew me, and she knew I was a singer and pianist. The guy who was playing bass was graduating and she thought of me. I had the two essential requirements for someone who could learn bass over the summer: 1) I could read music, and 2) I was tall!
I was never very good but it was fun and a good way for me to expand my ears. Our orchestra got together with two or three other high school orchestras once a year to play together, conducted by someone from UW Madison, that was always a high point of the year. One year we played the “Unfinished” symphony, and I’ll always think back to that experience when I hear it.
The orchestra played it with elegance and verve. But honestly, it’s not a piece that really turns my crank.