unrecognized romantic genius"
Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
Born on the 31st
of January 1797 in Vienna, Franz Schubert was the second youngest son of the schoolmaster
Franz Theodor Schubert and his wife Maria Elisabeth Vietz. Only five of his 14 brothers
and sisters would live to see their first birthday.
Franz Schubert spent the
first part of his school life at his father's elementary school. At about the same time,
his father started to teach him music and how to play the violin - among other
instruments. His brother Ignaz gave him piano lessons. From his very childhood onwards,
Franz Schubert encountered the art of music making, since a lot of music was played at the
home of the Schubert family.
He is supposed to have written his first compositions as early as at
the age of eight or nine years. At this time he must have stuck out from the masses as an
incredibly gifted pupil. Unfortunately only the written records of the "Canto in
c" ("Gesang in c") for bass voice and piano have survived, without the
lyrics though. At the age of ten, he became a chorister of the Royal Chapel in Vienna,
which offered him the opportunity to enroll at Vienna's best school, the local Roman
Catholic boarding-school. This is where he got to know most of his future friends.
When his mother died in 1812, his voice had just started breaking,
which caused him to be eliminated from the boarding-school one year later. He started to
have private lessons from Antonio Salieris - a famous composer of operas. At this time,
Schubert had already written several pieces of all different kinds of music.
Finally, Schubert started to become a qualified assistant to the
schoolmaster and finished a preparation course for teachers, which was followed by two
years of practical work at the school of his father. These years are said to be his most
fruitful ones - in the sense of music. In 1814 he wrote the song "Gretchen at the
spinning-wheel" ("Gretchen am Spinnrad"), which marks the beginning of the
modern German song.
He quit from his father's school in 1816 and started to work as a
freelancing composer. He - together with one of his friends - moved in to the home of
professor Heinrich Joseph Watteroth, whose students became Schubert's clients for which he
From 1818 to 1824, Schubert worked for the family Esterházy in Zseliz
(today's Slowakia). One year later, he met the painter Moritz von Schwind, who honored
Schubert's life in his landscape paintings and portraits. When in 1820 the financial
success still failed to materialize, his friends paid for the production of Schubert's
first song books. His hope for the final breakthrough became stronger, when - on one of
his little journeys with friends - he met Carl Maria von Weber in 1822, who promised to
stage one of his works in Berlin ...which never happened.
The last part of his life was marked by the suffrage from illnesses, as
well as by an enormous energy for work and creative power. At this time he moved several
times, and in 1824 he did his longest journey. It took him almost six months and lead him
to the upper parts of Austria and to the city of Salzburg.
Schubert celebrated his greatest success one year after Beethoven's
death in 1828: He had organized a private concert, which did not only pay off financially,
but which also was an instant success in term of music.
Later this year (September 1828), he moved to one of his brothers, since the suffrage
from his diseases had increased. Franz Schubert died on the 19th of November
1828, aged 31.