The title Six Moments musicaux (D. 780) was not Schubert's own and is perhaps inappropriate. One might reasonably conclude that these are not really "moments" of music at all, as some of the six pieces last more than five or six minutes. When considering that the original publisher's title was the horrible grammatical calamity Momens musicals, the idea that Schubert might have come up with or even approved the title becomes wholly unbelievable. However, by July 1828, when the 6 Moments musicaux were published, Schubert was in no position to argue such matters -- not only was he absolutely destitute, he was also fighting a losing battle for his very life.
The Moments musicaux were composed during 1827 and 1828, the third and last pieces, which were written during 1823 and 1824, excepted. Each is composed in a sectional form and many are dances of some kind. No. 1 in C major is a minuet in the absolute abstract, meaning that, just as with a Chopin waltz, the music transcends all human footwork. The trio section rolls forward on wheels of seamless triplets.
The second Moments musicaux is an Andantino in A flat major, taking the shape of a gentle five-part rondo. The sparkling, dotted, homophonic, sicilienne-like rhythms in the opening music give way to pure melody and accompaniment in the form of regular left-hand arpeggiations in the F sharp minor B sections. The third piece was composed back in 1823. It has something of an Eastern European tang to it, and as a result the publisher originally tacked the label "Air Russe" to it.
There is something of Bach about the fortspinnung-like fourth piece, a Moderato in C sharp minor. It unfolds in the major mode in the middle portion, where any such reference to the minor is lost within a pianissimo dream world of richly textured syncopations that somehow seem to make reference to Johannes Brahms a decade before he was even born.
More purely Schubertian is the Allegro vivace in F minor that follows, an athletic piece of equestrian rhythms. It is composed in as textbook a rounded binary form as one might imagine.
The final piece of D. 780 is an Allegretto in A flat major that returns to the otherworldly minuet variety of the first piece. Schubert plays with listeners' harmonic expectations in the cleverest and most moving of ways. A move to E major during the second half of the minuet-proper (as opposed to the trio section) sounds somehow full of resignation; the modulation back to A flat a few measures later is absolutely heartwarming. During the codetta that precedes the trio section, Schubert teases with hints of A major/E major, but, in a startling move, snaps straight into A flat minor -- and since this opening section of music is repeated verbatim after the trio, it is in this bleakest of minor modes that the piece ends.