There are many unfinished pieces by different composers such as Mozart's Requiem, Beethoven's Symphony No. 10 and etc. Most of the time, however, when I listen to these music, I don't find which part of the music is unfinished.

Today, I found a recording for Schubert's Symphony No.8 with real time score visualization. And I try to finish listening to the whole piece and try to pin point the places that is unfinished.

Even with a score, I still cannot find places that are obviously unfinished. Most of the time, all I can find is many rest in different instruments such as in 7:30. I don't know if it is Schubert intention to have only strings going or it is unfinished.

Which part of this Symphony is unfinished? How to exactly identify unfinished parts.

  • 1
    An audience who doesn’t have in mind the doctrine of 4 movements symphony will always be pleased to listen to only one movement. Sep 7, 2020 at 6:39

2 Answers 2


Wikipedia's article on Schubert's Symphony No. 8 gives details.

Schubert started in 1822 but left with only two movements—though he lived for another six years. A scherzo, nearly completed in piano score but with only two pages orchestrated, also survives.

The reason it doesn't sound incomplete is because the two surviving movements are themselves completed. Unless you have a felt expectation for a "next" movement, the piece is satisfying as is.

The Wikipedia also describes attempts to formally complete the symphony.


Classical symphonies are supposed to have four movements. This one has only two, therefore it is technically incomplete. (Works in which individual movements are incomplete usually don't get published or performed to begin with.)

  • 2
    The first half of this answer is good, but the second half seems wrong — I can think of more well-known works where individual movements were incomplete (e.g. Mozart Requiem, Mozart 2nd Horn Concerto; Mahler 10; Elgar 3; …) than works that are incomplete in the sense of Schubert’s Unfinished (all individual movements are complete, but the composer intended to write more).
    – PLL
    Sep 7, 2020 at 20:57
  • @PLL it is certainly correct that incomplete movements are not usually published or performed. There are some exceptions, as you note, which usually involve someone else first completing the movement, but those are indeed exceptions.
    – phoog
    Sep 8, 2020 at 15:21

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