Franz Schubert

Franz-Schubert

Born: January 31st, 1797 in Alesgrund, Vienna, Austria
Died: November 19th, 1828 (at age 31) in Vienna, Austria
Nationality: Austrian
Fields: symphonies, lieder, operas, chamber music
Famous For: Connecting romantic and classical composition
Awards: Member of the Music Society of Graz

Franz Schubert was born in a suburb of Vienna, Austria. His formal musical training was spotty and began with violin lessons from his father and piano lessons from his older brother. When he was 11, Schubert found a place in the choir of the Imperial Court Chapel and was therefore entitled to attend the City Seminary, which was one of Vienna’s most prestigious boarding schools. There he had regular studies and music lessons and became a violinist in the school’s orchestra. Later, he would become a conductor on some occasions and compose works as well. These included songs, overtures, religious works, an operetta and string quartets. Schubert wrote his first symphony in 1813, the year he left the Seminary. His first Mass was performed in 1814.

Life and Death

Schubert returned home after he left the seminary. First, he attended a training college for primary school teachers, then he taught at his father’s school. However, he soon wearied of the routine of teaching schoolchildren and applied for the musical directorship of the New State Normal School in what is now Ljubljana, Slovenia, in 1816. However, he was turned down for this post. Still, Schubert decided to give up his teaching job and make a living teaching music, selling his work and writing for the theater. He moved to Vienna in 1817.

As his works began to be performed with some regularity in the early 1820’s, Schubert became well known around Vienna. Two of his operettas were produced with some success and some songs and piano works were published. Still, he couldn’t find a salaried position. In 1822 he had to enter the hospital, possibly as the result of syphilis. His recuperation was long. On top of this, the play “Rosamunde,” which had incidental music by Schubert, failed and closed after only two performances. It ended Schubert’s attempts to write for the theater.

After that, Schubert struggled with ill-health and poverty. Though his music brought him critical acclaim, especially the songs, a public concert of his works was not given till 1828. Schubert could not make a living on the royalties from his music publications, but he continued to compose prodigiously. In 1828 he fell ill with typhoid fever and died on November 19th. He was 31. His last wish was to be buried near Beethoven, which he was.

Works

Between 1811 and the year he died Schubert composed approximately 1,000 works. They include nine symphonies, 50 chamber works and piano sonatas, many short piano pieces, operas and operettas, six Masses and 25 other religious works, 100 choral compositions and over 600 songs. He never finished his “Symphony No 8. in B Minor” past the first two movements. This seems to have been deliberate. The symphony is now famously called “The Unfinished.” The work was first performed in 1865, over four decades after Schubert’s death.

But Schubert is best known for his immense body of songs. The songs use a variety of poetry and were inspired by the leading poets of the day, including Schiller and Goethe.