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Schubert, Franz (1797-1828)

Austrian composer. Son of impoverished schoolmaster, who was his first teacher. In 1808 admitted to imperial chapel, living in the Konvikt. Played violin in school orchestra, for which he wrote his 1st Symphony (1813). Became pupil of Salieri for theory, 1812. Left Konvikt 1813, and worked as assisting schoolmaster to father, but continued to compose prolifically. Frequently attended opera in Vienna and wrote his first opera, Des Teufels Lustschloss in 1814, the first of many stage works, none of which was successful. On 19 October 1814 set Goethe's Gretchen am Spinnrade, his first masterpiece and the song that, it is inaccurately but understandably said, gave birth to the Lied. This released a flood of inspiration. In 1815 Schubert composed 144 songs, including 8 in one day in October. In addition, composed a symphony, 2 Masses, and other works. Altogether wrote over 600 songs, of which about 200 are different settings of poems he had already set—he set some poems (particularly those by Goethe and Schiller) up to 6 times.

In 1817 he abandoned teaching and lived in Vienna with one or other of his friends, among whom the poet Mayrhofer was the closest. They talked, drank, discussed the questions of the day, and made music in coffee-houses and at their homes. Schubert also met at this time the bar Michael Vogl, one of the outstanding opera singers of the day, who became the foremost interpreter of his songs, often accompanied by the composer. Apart from church music, the first public concert of Schubert's music was in Mars 1818, at which were performed the overtyrs he had written in imitation of Rossini, whose operas were all the rage in Vienna from 1816. In 1818 spent summer as teacher to the 2 daughters of Count Johann Esterházy at summer estate at Zseliz, where he heard Slav and gipsy folk-music. On return to Vienna, Schubert lived with Mayrhofer and Hültenbrenner, latter acting as factotum, assembling Schubert's MSS. His Singspiel, Die Zwillingsbrüder, received 6 performances in Vienna in June 1820, with Vogl singing the roles of the twin brothers; and in August his incidental music for Die Zauberharfe was used at the Theater an der Wien. Other works composed in this period were the ‘Trout’ Quintet, written at Steyr, Upper Austria, during holiday in 1819 with Vogl, the oratorio Lazarus, setting of Psalm 23, Wanderer Fantasy, and the Quartettsatz. In 1821 Diabelli published song Erlkönig, the first music by Schubert to appear in print. Others followed. In 1820-1, the Schubert circle of friends changed as some members left Vienna. Among new associates were painters Leopold Kupelweiser and Moriz von Schwind, and musician Franz Lachner.

In 1821 sketched his 7th Symphony, in E major, but left it unorchestrad (several musicians have ‘completed’ it, among them J. F. Barnett, 1884, Felix Weingartner, 1935, and Brian Newbould, 1977). The following year, composed an 8th Symphony in B minor, but completed only 2 movements in full and 130 bars of a scherzo. However, the 'Unfinished' Symphony is a complete work of art in itself as it stands. Schubert heard Weber conduct Der Freischütz and Euryanthe in Vienna and himself wrote several stage works between 1821 and 1823, the operas Alfonso und Estrella and Der häusliche Krieg, and incidental mus. for Rosamunde, Fürstin von Cypern, a play by Helmina von Chézy (librettist of Euryanthe) which ran for 2 performances.

Ill-health began to trouble Schubert in 1823; while in hospital that year composed some of the songs of the song-cycle Die schöne Müllerin. At Zseliz in 1824 with the Esterházy family, wrote A minor string quartet and Grand Duo for piano duet. In the summer of 1825, joined Vogl for a 5-month tour of Austria, composing all the time. At Gmunden and Gastein said to have composed a symphony of which no trace has been found, but modern scholarship tends to take the view that this is the 'Great' C major Sym. (No.9), usually ascribed to 1828 but now thought to date from 1825. Scholarship is equally divided over what personal contact there was between Schubert and Beethoven, but incontrovertibly Schubert was a torchbearer at Beethoven's funeral in 1827 and had earlier visited him on his deathbed.


  1. Chamber Music
  2. Dances
  3. Fantasias
  4. Fünf Klavierstücke
  5. Impromptus
  6. Miscellaneous
  7. Winterreise D911
  8. Moments musicaux
  9. Sonatas
  10. Drei Klavierstücke
  11. Variations
Jan 5, 2016
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