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Franz Schubert

Schubert did not invent the title "Impromptu"; Jan Vorisek, the Bohemian composer living in Vienna, published the first impromptus in 1822, five years before Schubert. Indeed, Schubert did not even think to call his own impromptus by that title; it was the publisher Haslinger who gave the first set of four impromptus from 1827 that name. Schubert did accept it, and when he sent out the second set of four impromptus later in the same year, he numbered them five through eight.

Yet the second set of impromptus, ultimately published eleven years after Schubert's death with the opus number of 142 (D. 935), is a much more substantial set of pieces than the first set. This is especially true of the first of them, the F minor Impromptu, a piece whose scale led Schumann to believe that the second set might more properly be called a sonata. The F minor Impromptu is executed on a much larger and grander size than any of the first set: it is in sonata-rondo form rather than ternary or binary form with an episode inserted near the close that might have nearly unbalanced the whole work had it not been for Schubert's exquisite sense of balance and proportion. The tone of the F minor Impromptu moves between the determined assertiveness of the opening section and the more flowing melody of the central sections. Yet these two sections are unified by the integrity and intensity of Schubert's vision.