Who doesn't love trout?
Diners love it simply, with some butter and maybe some herbs. Restaurateurs love it because it's easy to cook and fun to price. And musicians and audiences alike have agreed that Schubert's Quintet in A, nicknamed The Trout, is a masterpiece of almost unprecedented popularity.
But what gave this quintet its quirky nickname? In 1817 a 20-year old Schubert set Christian Schubart's poem Die Forelle, and it quickly rose to the top of the Viennese charts. In 1819, when the rustic country cellist Sylvester Paumgartner asked Schubert for a chamber work that could be played at his home salons, Herr Paumgartner specifically asked for a variation movement that would be based on this, his favorite song. He also asked for an unusual instrumentation: violin, viola, cello, bass, and piano. This unique combination complemented another piece programmed for the salon that week, Hummel's Septet in E-flat.