Franz Schubert: Wikis


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1875 oil painting by Wilhelm August Rieder, after his own 1825 watercolor portrait
Franz Schubert Signature.svg

Franz Peter Schubert (German pronunciation: [fʁants ˈʃuːbɐt] or [ʃuːbɛ̯t]; January 31, 1797 – November 19, 1828) was an Austrian composer. He wrote some 600 Lieder, nine symphonies (including the famous "Unfinished Symphony"), liturgical music, operas, some incidental music, and a large body of chamber and solo piano music.

Schubert was born into a musical family, and received formal musical training through much of his childhood. While Schubert had a close circle of friends and associates who admired his work (amongst them the prominent singer Johann Michael Vogl), wide appreciation of his music during his lifetime was limited at best. He was never able to secure adequate permanent employment, and for most of his career he relied on the support of friends and family. He made some money from published works, and occasionally gave private musical instruction.

He died at the age of thirty-one after a brief unconfirmed illness. Interest in Schubert's work increased dramatically in the decades following his death. Composers like Franz Liszt, Robert Schumann and Felix Mendelssohn discovered, collected, and championed his works in the 19th century, as did musicologist Sir George Grove. Franz Schubert is now widely considered to be one of the greatest of all composers.

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Early life and education

Schubert was born in Himmelpfortgrund (now a part of Alsergrund), Vienna on January 31, 1797. His father, Franz Theodor Schubert, the son of a Moravian peasant, was a parish schoolmaster; his mother, Elisabeth Vietz, was the daughter of a Silesian master locksmith, and had also been a housemaid for a Viennese family prior to her marriage. Of Franz Theodor's 14 children (one illegitimate child was born in 1783),[1] nine died in infancy; five survived. Their father was a well-known teacher, and his school in Lichtental, a part of Vienna's 9th district, was well attended.[2] He was not a musician of fame or with formal training, but he taught his son some elements of music.[3]

The house in which Schubert was born, today Nussdorfer Strasse 54, in the 9th district of Vienna.

At the age of 5, Schubert began receiving regular instruction from his father and a year later was enrolled at his father's Himmelpfortgrund school. His formal musical education also began around the same time. His father continued to teach him the basics of the violin,[3] and his brother Ignaz gave him piano lessons.[4] At 7, Schubert began receiving lessons from Michael Holzer, the local church organist and choirmaster. Holzer's lessons seem to have mainly consisted of conversations and expressions of admiration[5] and the boy gained more from his acquaintance with a friendly joiner's apprentice who used to take him to a neighboring pianoforte warehouse where he had the opportunity to practice on better instruments.[6] He also played the viola in the family string quartet, with brothers Ferdinand and Ignaz on violin and his father on the cello. Schubert wrote many of his early string quartets for this ensemble.[7]

Schubert first came to the attention of Antonio Salieri, then Vienna's leading musical authority, in 1804, when his vocal talent was recognized.[7] In October 1808, he became a pupil at the Stadtkonvikt (Imperial seminary) through a choir scholarship. At the Stadtkonvikt, Schubert was introduced to the overtures and symphonies of Mozart.[8] His exposure to these pieces and various lighter compositions, combined with his occasional visits to the opera set the foundation for his greater musical knowledge.[9] One important musical influence came from the songs of Johann Rudolf Zumsteeg, who was an important Lied composer of the time, which, his friend Joseph von Spaun reported, he "wanted to modernize".[10] Schubert's friendship with Spaun began at the Stadtkonvikt and endured through his lifetime. In those early days, the more well-to-do Spaun furnished the impoverished Schubert with manuscript paper.[9]

Meanwhile, his genius began to show in his compositions. Schubert was occasionally permitted to lead the Stadtkonvikt's orchestra, and Salieri decided to begin training him privately in musical composition and theory in these years.[11] It was the first germ of that amateur orchestra for which, in later years, many of his compositions were written. During the remainder of his stay at the Stadtkonvikt he wrote a good deal of chamber music, several songs, some miscellaneous pieces for the pianoforte and, among his more ambitious efforts, a Kyrie (D. 31) and Salve Regina (D. 27), an octet for wind instruments (D. 72/72a, said to commemorate the 1812 death of his mother),[12] a cantata for guitar and male voices (D. 110, in honor of his father's birthday in 1813), and his first symphony (D. 82).[13]

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Teacher at his father's school

At the end of 1813 he left the Stadtkonvikt, and returned home for studies at the Normalhauptschule to train as a teacher. In 1814 he entered his father's school as teacher of the youngest students. For over two years the young man endured the drudgery of the work, which he performed with very indifferent success.[14] There were, however, other interests to compensate. He continued to receive private lessons in composition from Salieri, who did more for Schubert’s musical training than any of his other teachers. Salieri and Schubert would part ways in 1817.[11]

In 1814 Schubert met a young soprano named Therese Grob, the daughter of a local silk manufacturer. Several of his songs (Salve Regina and Tantum Ergo) were composed for her voice, and she also performed in the premiere of his first Mass (D. 105) in September[15]1814.[14] Schubert intended to marry Grob, but was hindered by the harsh marriage consent law of 1815,[16] which required the ability to show the means to support a family.[17] In November 1816, after failing to gain a position at Laibach, Schubert sent Grob's brother Heinrich a collection of songs, which were retained by her family into the 20th century.[18]

Schubert's most prolific year was probably 1815. He composed over 20,000 bars of music, more than half of which was for orchestra, including nine church works, a symphony, and about 140 Lieder.[19] In that year he was also introduced to Anselm Hüttenbrenner and Franz von Schober, who would become his lifelong friends. Another friend, Johann Mayrhofer, was introduced to him by Spaun in 1814.[20]

Supported by friends

Josef Abel(?) Portrait of an anonymous young man with glasses

Significant changes happened in 1816. Schober, a student of good family and some means, invited Schubert to room with him at his mother's house. The proposal was particularly opportune, for Schubert had just made the unsuccessful application for the post of Kapellmeister at Laibach, and he had also decided not to resume teaching duties at his father's school. By the end of the year he became a guest in Schober's lodgings. For a time he attempted to increase the household resources by giving music lessons, but they were soon abandoned, and he devoted himself to composition. "I compose every morning, and when one piece is done, I begin another."[21] During this year, he focused on orchestral and choral works, although he also continued to write Lieder.[22] Much of this work was unpublished, but manuscripts and copies circulated among friends and admirers.[23]

In early 1817, Schober introduced Schubert to Johann Michael Vogl, a prominent baritone 20 years Schubert's senior. Vogl, for whom Schubert went on to write a great many songs, became one of Schubert's main proponents in Viennese musical circles. He also met Joseph Hüttenbrenner (brother to Anselm), who also played a role in promoting Schubert's music.[24] These, and an increasing circle of friends and musicians, became responsible for promoting, collecting, and, after his death, preserving, his work.[25]

In late 1817, Schubert's father gained a new position at a school in Rossau (not far from Lichtental). Schubert rejoined his father and reluctantly took up teaching duties there. In early 1818 he was rejected for membership in the prestigious Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, something that might have furthered his musical career.[26] However, he began to gain more notice in the press, and the first public performance of a secular work, an overture performed in February 1818, received praise from the press in Vienna and abroad.[27]

Schubert spent the summer of 1818 as music teacher to the family of Count Johann Karl Esterházy at their chateau in Zseliz, Hungary. His duties were relatively light (teaching piano and singing to the two daughters, Marie and Karoline), and the pay relatively good. As a result, he happily continued to compose during this time. On his return from Zseliz, he took up residence with his friend Mayrhofer.[26] The respite at Zseliz led to a succession of compositions for piano duet.[28]

The tight circle of friends that Schubert surrounded himself with was dealt a blow in early 1820. Schubert and four of his friends were arrested by the Austrian secret police, who were suspicious of any type of student gatherings. One of Schubert's friends, Johann Senn, was put on trial, imprisoned for over a year, and then permanently banned from Vienna. The other four, including Schubert, were "severely reprimanded", in part for "inveighing against [officials] with insulting and opprobrious language".[29] While Schubert never saw Senn again, he did set some of his poems, "Selige Welt" and "Schwanengesang", to music. The incident may have played a role in a falling-out with Mayrhofer, with whom he was living at the time.[30]

Musical maturity

The compositions of 1819 and 1820 show a marked advance in development and maturity of style[31]. The unfinished oratorio "Lazarus" (D. 689) was begun in February; later followed, amid a number of smaller works, by the 23rd Psalm (D. 706), the Gesang der Geister (D. 705/714), the Quartettsatz in C minor (D. 703), and the "Wanderer Fantasy" for piano (D. 760). Of most notable interest is the staging in 1820 of two of Schubert's operas: Die Zwillingsbrüder (D. 647) appeared at the Theater am Kärntnertor on June 14, and Die Zauberharfe (D. 644) appeared at the Theater an der Wien on August 21.[32] Hitherto, his larger compositions (apart from his masses) had been restricted to the amateur orchestra at the Gundelhof, a society which grew out of the quartet-parties at his home. Now he began to assume a more prominent position, addressing a wider public.[32] Publishers, however, remained distant, with Anton Diabelli hesitantly agreeing to print some of his works on commission.[33] The first seven opus numbers (all songs) appeared on these terms; then the commission ceased, and he began to receive the meager pittances which were all that the great publishing houses ever accorded to him. The situation improved somewhat in March 1821 when Vogl sang "Der Erlkönig" at a concert that was extremely well received.[34] That month, he composed a variation on a waltz by Anton Diabelli (D. 718), being one of the 50 composers who contributed to Vaterländischer Künstlerverein.

The production of the two operas turned Schubert's attention more firmly than ever in the direction of the stage, where, for a variety of reasons, he was almost completely unsuccessful. In 1822, Alfonso und Estrella was refused, partly owing to its libretto.[35] Fierrabras (D. 796) was rejected in the fall of 1823, but this was largely due to the popularity of Rossini and the Italian operatic style, and the failure of Carl Maria von Weber's Euryanthe.[36] Die Verschworenen (D. 787) was prohibited by the censor (apparently on the grounds of its title),[37] and Rosamunde (D. 797) was withdrawn after two nights, owing to the poor quality of the play for which Schubert had written incidental music. Of these works the two former are written on a scale which would make their performances exceedingly difficult (Fierrabras, for instance, contains over 1,000 pages of manuscript score), but Die Verschworenen is a bright attractive comedy, and Rosamunde contains some of the most charming music that Schubert ever composed. In 1822 he made the acquaintance of both Weber and Beethoven, but little came of it in either case. Beethoven is said to have acknowledged the younger man's gifts on a few occasions, but some of this is likely legend and in any case he could not have known the real scope of Schubert's music - especially not the instrumental works - as so little of it was printed or performed in the composer's lifetime. On his deathbed, Beethoven is said to have looked into some of the younger man's works and exclaimed, "Truly, the spark of divine genius resides in this Schubert!"[38] but what would have come of it if he had recovered we can never know.

In the autumn of 1822, Schubert embarked suddenly on a work which more decisively than almost any other in those years showed his maturing personal vision, the "Unfinished Symphony" in B minor. The reason he left it unfinished after two movements and sketches some way into a third remains an enigma, and it is also remarkable that he didn't mention it to any of his friends even though, as Brian Newbould notes, he must have felt thrilled by what he was achieving here.

Last years and masterworks

In 1823 Schubert, in addition to Fierrabras, also wrote his first song cycle, Die schöne Müllerin (D. 795), setting poems by Wilhelm Müller. This series, together with the later cycle "Winterreise" (D. 911, also setting texts of Müller in 1827) is widely considered one of the pinnacles of Lieder.[39] He also composed the song Du bist die Ruh ("You are stillness/peace") D. 776 during this year. Also in that year, symptoms of syphilis first appeared.[40]

Schubert in 1825 (watercolor by Wilhelm August Rieder)

In the spring of 1824 he wrote the Octet in F (D. 803), "A Sketch for a Grand Symphony"; and in the summer went back to Zseliz. There he became attracted to Hungarian musical idiom, and wrote the Divertissement à l'Hongroise (D. 818) for piano duet and the String Quartet in A minor (D. 804).

It has been said that he held a hopeless passion for his pupil, the Countess Karoline Eszterházy, but the only work he dedicated to her was his Fantasie in F minor (D. 940) for piano duet.[41] His friend Bauernfeld penned the following verse, which appears to reference Schubert's unrequited sentiments:

In love with a Countess of youthful grace,
—A pupil of Galt's; in desperate case
Young Schubert surrenders himself to another,
And fain would avoid such affectionate pother[42]

Despite his preoccupation with the stage, and later with his official duties, he found time during these years for a significant amount of composition. He completed the Mass in A flat (D. 678) and, in 1822, began the "Unfinished Symphony" (Symphony No. 8 in B minor, , D. 759). Why the symphony was "unfinished" has been debated endlessly without resolution. In 1824 he wrote the variations for flute and piano on "Trockne Blumen", from the cycle Die schöne Müllerin, and several string quartets. He also wrote the Arpeggione Sonata (D. 821), at a time when there was a minor craze over that instrument.[43]

The setbacks of previous years were compensated for by the prosperity and happiness of 1825. Publication had been moving more rapidly; the stress of poverty was for a time lightened; and in the summer he had a pleasant holiday in Upper Austria, where Schubert was welcomed with enthusiasm. It was during this tour that he produced his "Songs from Sir Walter Scott". This cycle contains Ellens dritter Gesang (D. 839), a setting of Adam Storck's German translation of Scott's hymn from The Lady of the Lake, which is widely, though mistakenly, referred to as "Schubert's Ave Maria". It opens with the greeting Ave Maria, which recurs in the refrain; the entire Scott/Storck text in Schubert's song is frequently substituted with the complete Latin text of the traditional Ave Maria prayer.[44] In 1825 Schubert also wrote the Piano Sonata in A minor (Op. 42, D. 845), and began the "Great" C major Symphony (Symphony No. 9, D. 944), which was completed the following year.[45]

Schubert in 1827 (oil on canvas, by Anton Depauly)

From 1826 to 1828 Schubert resided continuously in Vienna, except for a brief visit to Graz in 1827. The history of his life during these three years was relatively uneventful, and is little more than a record of his compositions. In 1826, he dedicated a symphony (D. 944, that later came to be known as the "Great") to the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde and received an honorarium in return.[46] In the spring of 1828 he gave, for the first and only time in his career, a public concert of his own works, which was very well received.[47] The compositions themselves are a sufficient biography. The String Quartet in D minor (D. 810), with the variations on Death and the Maiden, was written during the winter of 1825–1826, and first played on January 25, 1826. Later in the year came the String Quartet in G major, (D. 887, Op. 161), the "Rondeau brilliant" for piano and violin (D. 895, Op. 70,), and the Piano Sonata in G (D. 894, Op. 78) (first published under the title "Fantasia in G"). To these should be added the three Shakespearian songs, of which "Hark! Hark! the Lark" (D. 889) and "An Silvia" (D. 891) were allegedly written on the same day, the former at a tavern where he broke his afternoon's walk, the latter on his return to his lodging in the evening.[48]

In 1827 Schubert wrote the song cycle Winterreise (D. 911), a colossal peak of the art of art song ("remarkable" was the way it was described at the Schubertiades), the Fantasia for piano and violin in C (D. 934), the Impromptus for piano, and the two piano trios (the first in B flat (D. 898), and the second in E flat, D. 929);[49] in 1828 the Mirjams Siegesgesang (Song of Miriam, D. 942) on a text by Franz Grillparzer, the Mass in E-flat (D. 950), the Tantum Ergo (D. 962) in the same key, the String Quintet in C (D. 956), the second Benedictus to the Mass in C, the last three piano sonatas, and the collection of songs published posthumously as Schwanengesang ("Swan-song", D. 957).[50] This collection, while not a true song cycle, retains a unity of style amongst the individual songs, touching depths of tragedy and of the morbidly supernatural which had rarely been plumbed by any composer in the century preceding it. Six of these are set to words by Heinrich Heine, whose Buch der Lieder appeared in the autumn. The Symphony No. 9 (D. 944) is dated 1828, but Schubert scholars believe that this symphony was largely written in 1825–6 (being referred to while he was on holiday at Gastein in 1825 - that work,. once considered lost, now is generally seen as an early stage of his C major symphony) and was revised for prospective performance in 1828.[51] This was a fairly unusual practice for Schubert, for whom publication, let alone performance, was rarely contemplated for most of his larger-scale works during his lifetime. In the last weeks of his life he began to sketch three movements for a new Symphony in D (D. 936A).[52]

The works of his last two years reveal a composer increasingly meditating on the darker side of the human psyche and human relationships, and with a deeper sense of spiritual awareness and conception of the 'beyond'. He reaches extraordinary depths in several chillingly dark songs of this period, especially in the larger cycles. For example, the song Der Doppelgänger reaching an extraordinary climax, conveying madness at the realization of rejection and imminent death - a stark and visionary picture in sound and words that had been prefigured a year before by "Der Leiermann" (The Hurdy-Gurdy Man) at the end of Der Winterreise - and yet the composer is able to touch repose and communion with the infinite in the almost timeless ebb and flow of the String Quintet and his last three piano sonatas, moving between joyful, vibrant poetry and remote introspection. Even in large-scale works he was sometimes using increasingly sparse textures; Newbould compares his writing in the fragmentary Tenth Symphony (D.936A), probably the work of his very last two months) with Mahler's use of folksong-like harmonics and bare soundscapes.[53] Schubert expressed the wish, were he to survive his final illness, to further develop his knowledge of harmony and counterpoint, and had actually made appointments for lessons with the counterpoint master Simon Sechter.[54]

Final illness and death

Franz Schubert memorial by Karl Kundmann in Vienna's Stadtpark

In the midst of this creative activity, his health deteriorated. The cause of his death was officially diagnosed as typhoid fever, though other theories have been proposed, including the tertiary stage of syphilis.[55] By the late 1820s Schubert's health was failing and he confided to some friends that he feared that he was near death.[56] In the late summer of 1828, the composer saw court physician Ernst Rinna, who may have confirmed Schubert's suspicions that he was ill beyond cure and likely to die soon.[57]. Some of his symptoms matched those of mercury poisoning (mercury was then a common treatment for syphilis, again suggesting that Schubert suffered from it).[58] At the beginning of November he again fell ill, experiencing headaches, fever, swollen joints, and vomiting. He was generally unable to retain solid food and his condition worsened. Schubert died in Vienna, at age 31, on November 19, 1828, at the apartment of his brother Ferdinand. By his own request, he was buried next to Beethoven, whom he had admired all his life, in the village cemetery of Währing.[59]

In 1872, a memorial to Franz Schubert was erected in Vienna's Stadtpark.[59] In 1888, both Schubert's and Beethoven's graves were moved to the Zentralfriedhof, where they can now be found next to those of Johann Strauss II and Johannes Brahms.[60] The cemetery in Währing was converted into a park in 1925, called the Schubert Park, and his former grave site was marked by a bust.


Schubert wrote almost 1000 works in a remarkably short career. The largest number (over 600) of these are songs. He wrote seven complete symphonies, as well as the two movements of the "Unfinished" Symphony, a complete sketch (with partial orchestration) of a ninth, and arguable fragments of a 10th. There is a large body of music for solo piano, including 21 complete sonatas and many short dances, and a relatively large set of works for piano duet. There are nearly 30 chamber works, including some fragmentary works. His choral output includes six masses. He wrote only five operas, and no concertos.[61]


In July 1947 the twentieth-century composer Ernst Krenek discussed Schubert's style, abashedly admitting that he at first "shared the wide-spread opinion that Schubert was a lucky inventor of pleasing tunes ... lacking the dramatic power and searching intelligence which distinguished such 'real' masters as Bach or Beethoven". Krenek wrote that he reached a completely different assessment after close study of Schubert's songs at the urging of friend and fellow composer Eduard Erdmann. Krenek pointed to the piano sonatas as giving "ample evidence that [Schubert] was much more than an easy-going tune-smith who did not know, and did not care, about the craft of composition." Each sonata then in print, according to Krenek, exhibited "a great wealth of technical finesse" and revealed Schubert as "far from satisfied with pouring his charming ideas into conventional molds; on the contrary he was a thinking artist with a keen appetite for experimentation."[62]

That "appetite for experimentation" manifests itself repeatedly in Schubert's output in a wide variety of forms and genres, including opera, liturgical music, chamber and solo piano music, and symphonic works. Perhaps most familiarly, his adventurousness manifests itself as a notably original sense of modulation, as in the second movement of the String Quintet, where he modulates from C major, through E major, to reach the tonic key of C major.[63] It also appears in unusual choices of instrumentation, as in the Arpeggione Sonata or the unconventional scoring of the Trout Quintet. If it not infrequently led Schubert up blind alleys, resulting in fragmentary works, it also enabled him to create music unlike anything that had come before, such as his two song cycles of unprecedented scope.[citation needed]

While he was clearly influenced by the Classical sonata forms of Beethoven and Mozart (his early works, among them notably the 5th Symphony, are particularly Mozartean), his formal structures and his developments tend to give the impression more of melodic development than of harmonic drama.[64] This combination of Classical form and long-breathed Romantic melody sometimes lends them a discursive style: his 9th Symphony was described by Robert Schumann as running to "heavenly lengths".[65] His harmonic innovations include movements in which the first section ends in the key of the subdominant rather than the dominant (as in the last movement of the Trout Quintet). Schubert's practice here was a forerunner of the common Romantic technique of relaxing, rather than raising, tension in the middle of a movement, with final resolution postponed to the very end.[citation needed]

It was in the genre of the Lied, however, that Schubert made his most indelible mark. Plantinga remarks, "In his more than six hundred Lieder he explored and expanded the potentialities of the genre as no composer before him."[66] Prior to Schubert's influence, Lieder tended toward a strophic, syllabic treatment of text, evoking the folksong qualities burgeoned by the stirrings of Romantic nationalism.[67] Among Schubert's treatments of the poetry of Goethe, his settings of Gretchen am Spinnrade and Der Erlkönig are particularly striking for their dramatic content, forward-looking uses of harmony, and their use of eloquent pictorial keyboard figurations, such as the depiction of the spinning wheel and treadle in the piano in Gretchen and the furious and ceaseless gallop the right hand in Erlkönig.[68] Also of particular note are his two song cycles on the poems of Wilhelm Müller, Die schöne Müllerin and Winterreise, which helped to establish the genre and its potential for musical, poetic, and almost operatic dramatic narrative. The Theaterzeitung, writing about Winterreise at the time, commented that it was a work that "none can sing or hear without being deeply moved".[69] Antonín Dvořák wrote in 1894 that Schubert, whom he considered one of the truly great composers, was clearly influential on shorter works, especially Lieder and shorter piano works: "The tendency of the romantic school has been toward short forms, and although Weber helped to show the way, to Schubert belongs the chief credit of originating the short models of piano forte pieces which the romantic school has preferably cultivated. [...] Schubert created a new epoch with the Lied. [...] All other songwriters have followed in his footsteps."[70]

Schubert's compositional style progressed rapidly throughout his short life.[71] The loss of potential masterpieces caused by his early death at 31 was perhaps best expressed in the epitaph on his tombstone written by the poet Franz Grillparzer, "Here music has buried a treasure, but even fairer hopes."[72]

Posthumous history of Schubert's music

Interior of museum at Schubert's birthplace, Vienna, 1914

Some of his smaller pieces were printed shortly after his death, but the manuscripts of many of the longer works, whose existence was not widely known, remained hidden in cabinets and file boxes of Schubert's family, friends, and publishers.[73] Even some of Schubert's friends were unaware of the full scope of what he wrote, and for many years he was primarily recognized as the "prince of song", although there was recognition of some of his larger-scale efforts.[74] In 1838 Robert Schumann, on a visit to Vienna, found the dusty manuscript of the C major symphony (the "Great", D. 944) and took it back to Leipzig, where it was performed by Felix Mendelssohn and celebrated in the Neue Zeitschrift. The most important step towards the recovery of the neglected works was the journey to Vienna which Sir George Grove (widely known for the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians) and Arthur Sullivan made in the autumn of 1867. The travellers rescued from oblivion seven symphonies, the Rosamunde incidental music, some of the Masses and operas, some of the chamber works, and a vast quantity of miscellaneous pieces and songs.[73] This led to more widespread public interest in Schubert's work.[75]

Posthumous lithograph by Joseph Kriehuber

From the 1830s through the 1870s, Franz Liszt transcribed and arranged a number of Schubert's works, particularly the songs. Liszt, who was a significant force in spreading Schubert's work after his death, said Schubert was "the most poetic musician who ever lived."[76] Schubert's symphonies were of particular interest to Antonín Dvořák, with Hector Berlioz and Anton Bruckner acknowledging the influence of the "Great" Symphony.[77]

In 1897, the publisher Breitkopf & Härtel released a critical edition of Schubert's works, under the general editing of Johannes Brahms, enabling a wider dissemination of his music. In the 20th century, composers such as Benjamin Britten, Richard Strauss, and George Crumb either championed or paid homage to Schubert in their work. Britten, an accomplished pianist, accompanied many of Schubert's Lieder and performed many piano solo and duet works.[77]

Numbering of symphonies

Confusion arose quite early over the numbering of Schubert's symphonies, in particular the "Great" C Major Symphony. George Grove, who rediscovered many of Schubert's symphonies, assigned the following numbering after his 1867 visit to Vienna:

  • Number 7: E major D. 729 (completely sketched but not completely scored by Schubert, with multiple historic and modern completions)
  • Number 8: B minor Unfinished D. 759
  • Number 9: C major Great D. 944

Breitkopf & Härtel, when preparing the 1897 complete works publication, originally planned to only publish complete works (which would have given the Great number 7), with "fragments", including the Unfinished and the D. 729 sketch, receiving no number at all. When Johannes Brahms became general editor of that project, he assigned the following numbers:[78]

  • Number 7: C major Great
  • Number 8: B minor Unfinished
  • no number: E major D. 729
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Some of the disagreement continued into the 20th century. George Grove in his 1908 Dictionary of Music and Musicians, assigned the Great as number 10, and the Unfinished as number 9. (It is unclear from his article which symphonies, fragmentary or otherwise, are numbers 7 and 8.)[79] However, the Unfinished is now generally referred to as number 8 in the English-speaking world, with the Great at number 9. Number 10 is generally acknowledged to be the D. 936a fragment, for which a completion by Brian Newbould exists. The 1978 revision to the Deutsch catalog leaves D. 827 without a number (in spite of numerous completions), and assigns number 7 to the Unfinished and number 8 to the Great.[80] As a consequence, generally-available scores for the later symphonies may be published using conflicting numbers.[81]

Grove and Sullivan also suggested that there may have been a "lost" symphony. Immediately before Schubert's death, his friend Eduard von Bauernfeld recorded the existence of an additional symphony, dated 1828 (although this does not necessarily indicate the year of composition) named the "Letzte" or "Last" symphony. Brian Newbould[52] believes that the "Last" symphony refers to a sketch in D major (D. 936A), identified by Ernst Hilmar in 1977, and which was realised by Newbould as the Tenth Symphony. The fragment was bound with other symphony fragments (D. 615 and D. 708a) that Schubert had apparently intended to combine.[52]


In 1897, the 100th anniversary of Schubert's birth was marked in the musical world by festivals and performances dedicated to his music. In Vienna, there were ten days of concerts, and the Emperor Franz Joseph gave a speech recognizing Schubert as the creator of the art song, and one of Austria's favorite sons.[82][83] Karlsruhe saw the first production of his opera Fierrabras.[84]

In 1928, Schubert week was held in Europe and the United states to mark the centenary of the composer's death. Works by Schubert were performed in churches, in concert halls, and on radio stations. A competition, with top prize money of $10,000 and sponsorship by the Columbia Phonograph Company, was held for "original symphonic works presented as an apotheosis of the lyrical genius of Schubert, and dedicated to his memory".[85] The winning entry was Kurt Atterberg's sixth symphony.[85]

In 1977, the German electronic band Kraftwerk recorded a tribute song called "Franz Schubert", which can be found on the album Trans-Europe Express.[86]


Since relatively few of his works were published in Schubert's lifetime, only a small number of them have opus numbers assigned, and, even in those cases, the sequence of the numbers does not give a good indication of the order of composition. In 1951, musicologist Otto Erich Deutsch published a "thematic catalogue" of Schubert's works that lists his compositions numerically by their composition date.


  1. ^ Rita Steblin, "Franz Schubert – das dreizehnte Kind", Wiener Geschichtsblätter, 3/2001, pp. 245–265.
  2. ^ Wilberforce (1866), p. 2 "the school was much frequented"
  3. ^ a b Duncan (1905), p. 3
  4. ^ Gibbs (2000), p. 25
  5. ^ Maurice J. E. Brown, The New Grove Schubert, ISBN 0-393-30087-0, pp. 2–3
  6. ^ Wilberforce (1866), p. 3
  7. ^ a b Gibbs (2000), p. 26
  8. ^ Duncan (1905), pp. 5–7
  9. ^ a b Duncan (1905), p. 7
  10. ^ Gibbs (2000), p. 29
  11. ^ a b Duncan (1905), p. 9
  12. ^ Frost, p. 9
  13. ^ Duncan (1905), p. 10
  14. ^ a b Duncan (1905), pp. 13–14
  15. ^ Erich Benedikt, "Notizen zu Schuberts Messen. Mit neuem Uraufführungsdatum der Messe in F-Dur", Österreichische Musikzeitschrift 52, 1-2/1997, p. 64
  16. ^ Steblin
  17. ^ Gibbs (2000), p. 39
  18. ^ Newbould (1999), p. 64
  19. ^ Newbould (1999), p. 40
  20. ^ Gibbs (1997), p. 108
  21. ^ Duncan (1905), p. 26
  22. ^ McKay, p. 56
  23. ^ Gibbs (2000), p. 44
  24. ^ Newbould (1999), p. 66
  25. ^ Duncan (1905), pp. 90–93
  26. ^ a b Newbould (1999) pp. 69–72
  27. ^ Gibbs (2000), p. 59
  28. ^ Newbould (1999), p. 235
  29. ^ Gibbs (2000), p. 67
  30. ^ Gibbs (2000), p. 68
  31. ^ Hadow, William Henry (1911). "Franz Schubert". Encyclopedia Britannica. 24. London, New York: The Encyclopedia Britannica Company. pp. 380. 
  32. ^ a b Austin (1873), pp. 46–47
  33. ^ Wilberforce (1866), pp. 90–92
  34. ^ Wilberforce (1866), p. 25
  35. ^ Newbould (1999), p. 173
  36. ^ Gibbs (1997), p. 228
  37. ^ Gibbs (2000), p. 111
  38. ^ Thayer, pp. 299–300
  39. ^ Newbould (1999), p. 215
  40. ^ Newbould (1999), p. 210
  41. ^ Newbould (1999), p. 218
  42. ^ Duncan (1905), p. 99
  43. ^ Newbould (1999), pp. 221–225
  44. ^ Emmons, p. 38
  45. ^ Newbould (1999), p. 228
  46. ^ Newbould (1999), p. 254
  47. ^ Newbould (1999), pp. 265–266
  48. ^ Smith & Carlson, p. 78
  49. ^ Newbould (1999) pp. 261–263
  50. ^ Newbould (1999) pp. 270–274
  51. ^ Gibbs (1997), p. 202
  52. ^ a b c Newbould (1999), p. 385
  53. ^ Newbould (1999) ibid, and comments in the liner notes to the cd recording issued on Hyperion Records
  54. ^ Schonberg, p. 130
  55. ^ Brian Newbould, Schubert: The Music and the Man, UCLA Press, 1997, discusses Schubert's medical history and his death; leans toward Schubert's contracting syphilis in 1822 and dying from it, while judging the evidence not quite conclusive.
  56. ^ Brian Newbould, 1999, on the medical evidence
  57. ^ Newbould ibid
  58. ^ Gibbs (2000), pp. 168–169
  59. ^ a b Duncan (1905), pp. 79–80
  60. ^ Gibbs (2000), p. 197
  61. ^ Ewen, p. 384
  62. ^ Lev.
  63. ^ Gammond (1982), p. 117
  64. ^ Gammond (1982), pp. 76–81
  65. ^ Brown, p. 630
  66. ^ Plantinga, Leon (1984). Romantic Music: A History of Musical Style in Nineteenth-Century Europe. Norton. pp. 117. 
  67. ^ Plantinga, pp. 107–117
  68. ^ Swafford, p. 211
  69. ^ Gammond (1982), pp. 153–156
  70. ^ Dvořák, Century Illustrated, July 1894, pp. 344–345
  71. ^ Gammond (1982), p. 143, discussing in particular his chamber music
  72. ^ Duncan (1905), p. 80
  73. ^ a b Kreissle, pp. 297–332, in which Grove recounts his visit to Vienna.
  74. ^ Gibbs (2000), pp. 61–62
  75. ^ See e.g. Kreissle, p. 324, where Grove describes current (1860s) interest in Schubert's work, and Gibbs (1997), pp. 250–251, describing the size and scope of the 1897 Schubert centennial commemorations.
  76. ^ Liszt (1989), p. 144
  77. ^ a b Newbould (1999), pp. 403–404
  78. ^ Lindmayr, p. 56
  79. ^ Grove (1908), pp. 320–328
  80. ^ 1978 Deutsch Catalog
  81. ^ See references below for citations containing different numbers for the Unfinished Symphony.
  82. ^ Rodenberg, p. 118
  83. ^ Musical Times, February 1897, p. 113
  84. ^ Gibbs (1997), p. 318
  85. ^ a b "Schubert Ecstasy". Time. 3 December 1928.,9171,928288,00.html. Retrieved 8 April 2009. 
  86. ^ Trans-Europe Express track listing


Nineteenth and early 20th-century scholarship

Modern scholarship

  • Brown, A. Peter (2002). The Symphonic Repertoire. Indiana University Press. ISBN 9780253334879. 
  • Deutsch, Otto Erich (1978). Franz Schubert, thematisches Verzeichnis seiner Werke in chronologischer Folge. Bärenreiter. ISBN 9783761805718. 
  • Emmons, Shirlee; Lewis,Wilbur Watkin (2006). Researching the Song: A Lexicon. Oxford University Press US. ISBN 9780195152029. 
  • Ewen, David (2007). Composers of Yesterday. READ BOOKS. ISBN 9781406759877. 
  • Gammond, Peter (1982). Schubert. Methuen. ISBN 0-413-46990-5. 
  • Gibbs, Christopher H. (2000). The Life Of Schubert. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-59512-6. 
  • Gibbs, Christopher H. [ed.] (1997). The Cambridge Companion to Schubert. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521484244. 
  • Lev, Ray (1947). Album notes for Franz Schubert — Piano Sonata no. 15 in C Major (Unfinished); Allegretto in C Minor — Ray Lev, Pianist [78 RPM]. United States: Concert Hall Society (Release B3).
  • Lindmayr-Brandl, Andrea (2003) (in German). Franz Schubert: Das fragmentarische Werk. Franz Steiner Verlag. ISBN 9783515082501. 
  • Liszt, Franz; Suttoni, Charles (translator, contributor) (1989). An Artist's Journey: Lettres D'un Bachelier ès Musique, 1835–1841. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0226485102. 
  • Newbould, Brian (1999). Schubert: The Music and the Man. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-21957-0. 
  • Schonberg, Harold C (1997). The Lives of the Great Composers. W. W. Norton. ISBN 9780393038576. 
  • Smith, Jane Stuart; Carlson, Betty; Schaeffer, Francis A (1995). The Gift of Music: Great Composers and Their Influence. Good News Publishers. ISBN 9780891078692. 
  • Steblin, Rita (1998). "Schubert's Relationship with Women: An Historical Account". in Newbould, Brian. Schubert Studies. Ashgate. pp. 159–182. ISBN 9781859282533. 
  • Steblin, Rita (1998). "In Defense of Scholarship and Archival Research: Why Schubert's Brothers Were Allowed to Marry". Current Musicology 62: 7–17. 
  • Swafford, Jan (1992). The Vintage Guide to Classical Music. Vintage Books. ISBN 0-679-72805-8. 
  • "Trans-Europe Express track listing". Retrieved 2009-04-09. 

Symphony numbers

The following citations illustrate the confusion around the numbering of Schubert's late symphonies. The B minor Unfinished Symphony is variously published as Number 7 and Number 8, in both German and English. All of these editions appeared to be in print (or at least somewhat readily available) in 2008.

  • Schubert, Franz (1996) (in German). Symphony, No 7, D 759, B Minor, "Unfinished". Bärenreiter. OCLC 39794412.  German-language publication of the Unfinished Symphony score as Number 7.
  • Schubert, Franz (2008). Symphony No. 7 in B Minor D 759 Unfinished Symphony. Eulenburg Audio+Score Series. Eulenburg. ISBN 978-3795765293.  English-language publication of the Unfinished Symphony score as Number 7.
  • Schubert, Franz; Reichenberger, Teresa (1986) (Paperback). Symphony No. 8 in B minor, D. 759 Unfinished. ISBN 978-3795762780.  English-language publication of the Unfinished Symphony score as Number 8.

Further reading

Otto Erich Deutsch, working in the first half of the 20th century, was probably the preeminent scholar of Schubert's life and music. In addition to the catalog of Schubert's works, he collected and organized a great deal of material about Schubert, some of which is still in print.

  • Deutsch, Otto Erich; Wakeling, Donald R. (1995). The Schubert Thematic Catalogue. Courier Dover Publications. ISBN 9780486286853. 
  • Deutsch, Otto Erich; Blom, Eric (translator) (1977). Schubert: A Documentary Biography. Da Capo Press. ISBN 9780306774201. 
  • Deutsch, Otto Erich (1998). Schubert: Memoirs by His Friends. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198164364. 
  • Schubert, Franz; Deutsch, Otto Erich; Savile, Venetia (translator) (1928). Franz Schubert's Letters and Other Writings. A. A. Knopf. OCLC 891887. 

Elizabeth Norman McKay and Brian Newbould have done a great deal of research on the life and music of Schubert in recent years, including scholarly journal articles and books. Newbould made a completion Schubert's fragmentary 10th symphony.

  • McKay, Elizabeth Norman (1991). Franz Schubert's music for the theatre. H. Schneider. ISBN 978-3795206642. 
  • McKay, Elizabeth Norman (1996). Franz Schubert: A Biography. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198166818. 
  • Newbould, Brian (1997). Schubert: The Music and the Man. University of California Press. ISBN 9780520219571. 
  • Newbould, Brian (1998). Schubert Studies. Ashgate. ISBN 9781859282533. 
  • Newbould, Brian (1992). Schubert and the Symphony: A New Perspective. Toccata Press. ISBN 9780907689263. 
  • Newbould, Brian (2003). Schubert the Progressive: History, Performance Practice, Analysis. Ashgate. ISBN 9780754603689. 

Additional readings (sources from German Wikipedia article):

  • Walther Dürr, Andreas Krause (Hrsg.): Schubert-Handbuch. Metzler, Stuttgart 1997, ISBN 3-476-01418-5
  • Ernst Hilmar: Verzeichnis der Schubert-Handschriften in der Musiksammlung der Wiener Stadt- und Landesbibliothek. Kassel u. a. 1978 (Catalogus Musicus 8).
  • Ernst Hilmar, Margret Jestremski (Hrsg.): Schubert-Enzyklopädie. 2 Bände. Hans Schneider, Tutzing 2004, ISBN 3-7952-1155-7
  • H.-J. Hinrichsen: Untersuchungen zur Entwicklung der Sonatenform in der Instrumentalmu­sik Franz Schuberts. Tutzing 1994
  • Elizabeth Norman McKay: Franz Schubert's Music for the Theatre. Foreword by Claudio Abbado. (Veröffentlichungen des IFSI, 5), Tutzing 1991
  • Christian Pollack (ed.): Franz Schubert: Bühnenwerke. Kritische Gesamtausgabe der Texte. Tutzing 1988
  • Ernst Hilmar, Otto Brusatti (Hrsg., mit einer Einleitung von Walter Obermaier): Franz Schubert. Ausstellung der Wiener Stadt- und Landesbibliothek zum 150. Todestag des Komponisten. Katalog. Wien 1978.
  • Ernst Hilmar: Schubert. Graz 1989
  • Till Gerrit Waidelich (ed., together with R. Hilmar-Voit, A. Mayer): Franz Schubert. Dokumente 1817–1830. Erster Band: Texte. Programme, Rezensionen, Anzeigen, Nekrologe, Musikbeilagen und andere gedruckte Quellen (Veröffentlichungen des IFSI, 10/1), Tutzing 1993
  • Ernst Hilmar (Hrsg.): Franz Schubert. Dokumente 1801–1830. Erster Band. Addenda und Kommentar. (Veröffentlichungen des IFSI, 10/2), Tutzing 2003
  • Ernst Hilmar (ed.): Schubert durch die Brille. Mitteilungen des Internationalen Franz Schubert Instituts. Wien/Tutzing 1988–2003
  • Hans-Joachim Hinrichsen, Till Gerrit Waidelich (ed.): Schubert:Perspektiven Stuttgart 2001ff. ISSN 1617-6340 (content since 2001)

External links

Recordings and MIDI files

Sheet music


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Franz Peter Schubert (1797-01-311828-11-19) was an Austrian composer.


  • No one feels another's grief, no one understands another's joy. People imagine that they can reach one another. In reality they only pass each other by.
  • When I wished to sing of love, it turned to sorrow. And when I wished to sing of sorrow, it was transformed for me into love.
  • When all hopes of recognition or honor have faded into distant memory, when purity of heart meets sorrow of mind, when all the world seems to walk in blindness and yet a man works without wearying for that which he loves...only in this moment is passion truly understood.

About Franz Schubert

  • Another equally true saying of Schumann is that, compared with Beethoven, Schubert is as a woman to a man. For it must be confessed that one's attitudes towards him is almost always that of sympathy, attraction, and love, rarely that of embarrassment or fear. Here and there only, as in the Rosamund B minor Entr'acte, or the Finale of the 10th symphony, does he compel his listeners with an irrestistible power; and yet how different is this compulsion from the strong, fierce, merciless coercion, with which Beethoven forces you along, and bows and bends you to his will.
    • Sir George Grove, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn (London:Macmillan, 1951), p. 238.

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:

Simple English

Franz Schubert.

Franz "Peter" Schubert (b. Vienna, 31 January 1797; d.Vienna 19 November 1828) was an Austrian composer. Although he died at the age of 31 he composed over one thousand pieces of music. Some of his works are among the greatest music ever written. He wrote wonderful melodies. There were other great composers who lived and worked in Vienna: Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, but Schubert is the only one who was born in Vienna. He was the last great composer of the Classical music period, and one of the first of the Romantic period.


Early years

Schubert’s father was a school teacher. Twelve children were born into the family, but only four of them lived to grow up. The family was poor, and the father tried to persuade his sons to help him in the school when they grew up. As a boy the young Franz learned the violin, piano, organ, singing and harmony. He soon became very good at them all, and he was made leader of the emperor’s court chapel. He was still only a boy when he was also given the chance to conduct the orchestra. They played works by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. His teachers were all amazed at how quickly he learned. He was also very good at other subjects in school.

In the holidays he played string quartets with his two brothers and his father, and he wrote his first string quartets for them to play. By the age of 16 he had composed a lot of music including his first symphony. His mother had died, and his father soon remarried. His stepmother was very kind to him and often lent him money.He had one strange thumb on his right hand.

Rising fame

By the age of 17, he was teaching at his father’s school. He had been rejected by the army because he was too short (shorter than five feet) and his sight was very poor. He still had composition lessons from Antonio Salieri and he often went to the opera where he heard some of the finest music of the time. He liked reading, and one of his favourite books was Goethe’s Faust. He wrote a song called Gretchen am Spinnrade which is about the young girl in the book who is sitting at the spinning wheel dreaming of her lover. The piano has a gentle accompaniment which sounds like the throbbing of the spinning wheel. The music stops for a moment when the girl imagines her lover is kissing her, then the piano gradually starts again. It is a very famous song. Another song which soon made him famous in all Europe was Erlkönig. When it was first published another composer (not a very good one), whose name was also Franz Schubert, thought that somebody had published a song in his name because the music publishers sent it to him for correction. He sent a very angry letter back saying he had not composed that rubbish.


It was difficult to find enough time to compose because he was a teacher. A man called Schober persuaded Schubert to give up teaching so that he could spend all his time composing. Soon he had become well-known in all the drawing-rooms in Vienna where he met famous people, many of them musicians. These meetings were called “Schubertiads” because they played and sung his music. He wrote so many wonderful pieces that it seems strange that the music publishers did not want to publish them. They were only interested in publishing works written by performers, but were not very interested in people like Schubert who just composed. For a time he became music teacher for the two princesses of Count Johann Esterházy, but then he returned to Vienna to live with the Schober family. During the last few years of his life Schubert was ill. He had to leave the Schober’s house and find his own rooms. He was often desperately poor and composed in bed to keep warm.

Although Beethoven and Schubert lived in the same town they only met once, although they knew one another’s music. Schubert visited Beethoven on 19 March 1827. Beethoven was dying. Schubert was one of the torch-bearers at his funeral. A year and a half later Schubert, too, had died. He asked to be buried near Beethoven. Their graves were just three places apart.

His music

Schubert’s songs are among the greatest ever written. They are all settings of German poems. German art songs are called Lieder (pronounced “leader”), and Schubert made his Lieder very special by making the piano accompaniments describe the action of the songs in many different ways. If you try to sing them in a translation it is difficult to make it sound good. It is best to hear them in German and to have a translation so that you understand what is being sung. Some of the last songs he wrote make up a cycle called “Die Winterreise” (“The Winter Journey”). The poems are about a man who is unhappy because his lover does not want him. He goes out into the cold winter woods and all nature seems to reflect the way he feels inside. The songs are usually sung by a male singer (tenor, baritone or bass).

Schubert wrote a great deal of chamber music. Among his most famous pieces are several string quartets, a string quintet (for 2 violins, viola and 2 cellos) and the “Trout” quintet (for piano, violin, viola, cello and double bass). There are sonatas and sonatinas for violin and piano, and a sonata for an instrument called the “arpeggione” which was used for about ten years after it was invented and then it was forgotten. The sonata is normally played on a cello or a viola nowadays. There is lots of piano music including sonatas, impromptus and also piano duet music.

Schubert wrote nine symphonies. The last one is known as the “Great” symphony in C major. The eighth is called the “Unfinished”. There are only two movements instead of the usual four. A lot of people still argue about why he left it unfinished. Some people even think that he completed it and that the last two movements are either lost, or are now known as movements from a piano duet. We shall probably never know for certain.

Most of his life he was supported by his friends who gave him manuscript paper when he could not afford it. Many of his greatest works only became widely known in the 1860s, long after his death. The house in Vienna where Schubert was born is now a museum which people can visit.


  • New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians; ed Stanley Sadie; 1980; ISBN 1-56159-174-2rue:Франц Шуберт

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