The erstwhile prevalent view of Schubert as an undisciplined, spontaneous composer who was disinclined to revise is challenged by the existence of extensive continuity drafts and autograph scores for the Piano Sonatas D 958, D 959 and D 960. These drafts, which Walburga Litschauer edited in the volume Klaviersonaten III of the Neue Schubert Ausgabe, represent the most important documents of their kind, and offer a means by which to reappraise Schubert’s methods of composition for the piano sonata, particularly of what are arguably his greatest examples of the genre.
To that end, this chapter charts the compositional evolution of the sketches and autographs, before examining the disparities between the continuity drafts and the final versions of the last three sonatas. This examination permits a more detailed study of the Piano Sonata in B flat (D 960), in which a number of key features of Schubert’s customary revisions are analysed from the perspective of thematic construction, phrase structure, hypermetre, and performance practice, with particular attention afforded to the first movement’s first-time bars and expositional repeat. Ultimately, this analysis demonstrates not only that Schubert heavily revised these works for publication, but that he did so by expanding upon his initial ideas, and augmenting the original conception of the works, rather than by making cuts; the drafts thereby reveal the indispensability of this music’s ostensible ‘redundancies’.