In the spring of 1825, after spending the winter with his family, Schubert had found a room to rent, overlooking the city and the countryside, in the apartment of a wine shopkeeper located near the church of St. Charles in Vienna.
In the life of Franz Schubert, who did not travel the world but who changed his domicile countless times in Vienna, the apartment represented a pleasant and happy harbor, where he remained for a little over a year.
Shortly after obtaining possession of the room, at the end of May 1825, Schubert left for Steyr where he assisted the singer Michael Vogl, his great friend and companion, in the concerts that the two musicians made during their wandering in the small Austrian holiday resorts. Schubert returned to Vienna in early October.
"Vogl's way of singing and mine in accompanying him, described as if we were a single person, was an absolute novelty and an extraordinary experience" wrote Schubert to his parents. In another letter to the family, on July 25, he said: "Especially the variations of my new two-hand Sonata, which I performed alone and not without merit, were much appreciated. Some people assured me that keys became singers under my ﬁngers: if this is true, it makes me very happy because I cannot bear the damn pounding which even distinguished pianists indulge in and which does not delight the ear or the mind".
In a certain way it was a concert tour, but not the kind of tour pianists were used to do in those years: Moschles or Hummel, which during the summers touched the towns where the monarchy and the great feudal lords stayed, made considerable receipts and gave private lessons at even more substantial prices.
Vogl and Schubert derived from their concerts the pleasure of a relationship with an audience very fond of music, a warm hospitality and many cordial invitations to lunches and trips. Probably because not too busy counting ﬂorins and crowns, Schubert found time to write, and the serenity he enjoyed favored his pleasure of composing.
The Sonata Op. 42 was offered to a publisher who politely offered the "lowest possible price", being Schubert a "beginner". Schubert had written more than eight hundred compositions and had published fourty works to his credit, but he was almost unknown. He therefore turned to a beginner editor, Adolf Pennauer, who accepted the Sonata (we don't know at what price). Schubert dedicated his work to the pupil, friend and protector of Beethoven, Archduke Rudolph.
The Sonata was praised by the most authoritative periodical of the time, the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung of Leipzig, but it was not adopted by pianists for whom the "cursed pounding" was an essential mean for success. The Sonata Op. 42 was performed very rarely throughout the nineteenth century, since the most spectacular elements of public concertism continue to dictate.
In the past century the composition was ﬁrst proposed to the public by the great discoverer of Schubert, Arthur Schnabel, and then by Kempff. A confession by Kempff is invaluable in understanding the role of the Sonata in the discovery of Schubert as a sonatist: "I highly valued the great Sonata Op. 42 because it seemed congenial to the spirit of Beethoven". In fact, the Sonata would seem to be Beethovenian, for the richness of contrasts and the plasticity of the themes. A direct inﬂuence of Beethoven on Schubert is also almost certainly to be observed in the Scherzo, which reminds the ﬁfth variation of the Variations on the theme of Diabelli, published in 1823. It is therefore understandable that for Kempff as for others, the Sonata represented the meeting point between Beethoven and Schubert.
In 1960 the interpretation of Sviatoslav Richter, a generation younger than Schnabel and Kempff, had the function and merit of bringing this Sonata back into a Schubertian poetic. The rereading that culture made of Schubert's sonatas really started from here: it was the discovery of a world complementary to that of Beethovenian Sonatas.