Schubert wrote two overtures ‘in the Italian style’, which he composed in quick succession in November1817. There can be no doubt that they, like the SixthSymphony on which he was also working at that time, were inspired by the Rossini craze then sweeping Vienna. In the C major overture an Adagio with typically Rossinian wind solos precedes the main Allegro, which is cast in characteristic sonata-form without development and concludes with a lively ‘piùmosso’ coda. Throughout the overture the jaunty Italianate rhythms and robust harmonic patterns of Schubert’s model are apparent, but the composer’s own fertile melodic gifts are also much in evidence.
From an early age Schubert had been deeply interested in composing for the theatre. He received a commission to write music for Georg von Hofmann's play, Die Zauberharfe and, though the play only survived a few performances, Schubert’s music was well received by the public. Three years after writing the music for Die Zauberharfe Schubert was commissioned to compose incidental music for Helmina von Chezy's four-act play Rosamunde, Furstin von Zypern. Rosamunde was premiered on 20 December1823 and withdrawn after only one further performance. The ten numbers which Schubert composed for this production comprise three entr'actes, two ballets, two vocal solos and three choruses. As an overture he used the one which he had written for his unperformed opera Alfonso und Estrella(1821-22), and as late as 1826 he referred to this as his Rosamunde Overture. The Overture to Die Zauberharfe, which later became known as the Rosamunde Overture, only acquired this association when it was published in a piano duet version together with a selection from the incidental music to Chezy's play in 1827.
The most remarkable of his aborted compositions is the "Unfinished Symphony" of 1822. Sketches of three movements in piano score survive from October 1822, and the orchestral score containing the first two movements and part of the third was written the following month. But this work stands in powerful contrast to the other uncompleted symphonies, for the first two movements, which he completed down to the last detail, are among the finest he ever wrote. Various reasons have been advanced to explain why Schubert's score breaks off after a portion of the scherzo. It has been suggested that all four movements of the work were finished but that the final portion was lost or destroyed; it has even been maintained, rather unconvincingly, that the B minor Entr'acte from Rosamunde was originally the symphony's Finale.