Sonata in B-flat major, D.960 - Franz Schubert

Sonata in B-flat major, D.960 is the final solo piano masterpiece composed by Franz Schubert. This piece is viewed as the pinnacle of Schubert's sonata oeuvre, and it exhibits all facets of his compositional mastery. Weaving a harmonic tapestry with evocative melodies, it offers an unparalleled experience for both pianists and audiences.

Historical Context and Release

Composed in 1828, the Sonata in B-flat major, D.960 was one of the last three sonatas that Franz Schubert wrote before his untimely death. It was not until a decade after his passing that his brother Ferdinand published the piece, revolutionizing the world's perspective on Schubert's piano works.

This unveiling showcased a new side to Schubert's music that was imbued with an intimate understanding of life and depth of emotion, which are hallmarks of his late works. Listening to D.960, it is clear that Schubert was a man facing his mortality, expressing his pathos through his music.

Musical Analysis

The first movement of the Sonata in B-flat major, D.960 is built around the contrast between two thematic groups. The first is in the home key of B-flat major and projects a serene, lyrical atmosphere. The second, more dramatic and troubled group is set, unusually and provokingly, in C-sharp minor.

The body of the work is a bold exploration of harmonic structure. Schubert effortlessly moves between keys, flipping expectations and creating tension before arriving satisfyingly at resolution. The tonal range exhibited in this sonata demonstrates Schubert's exceptional knack for capturing emotions in rich harmonic language.

Popularity of the Piece

The Sonata's enduring popularity lies in its complexity and depth. It’s Schubert at his absolute best, displaying an astonishing range of emotions while pushing the boundaries of form and harmony. Schubert’s ability to touch the listener's soul through his exploration of human experience makes this sonata universally appealing.

Furthermore, the Sonata in B-flat major, D.960 is a demanding yet fulfilling piece for any pianist. Its technical challenges married with its emotional profundity offers a gratifying experience that holds immense allure for musicians across generations.


In conclusion, the Sonata in B-flat major, D.960 is perhaps one of the greatest examples of Schubert’s innovative harmony and profound lyricism. Its historical context, its complex yet alluring compositional structure, and its universal popularity firmly establish it as a profound gem in the repertoire of solo piano music.

Publication date: 03. 12. 2023