Biography of Classical Composer Franz Schubert Part 1

About the famous classical composer Franz Schubert, biography and history of the musician.

Franz Schubert (1797-1828). Of all the great Viennese masters of the time--Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven included--only Franz Schubert was a native of the capital city of the Austrian Empire. Schubert's life, which began in poverty in 1797, ended after a brief 31 years. Yet, during that time, he composed almost 650 songs, 9 symphonies, over a dozen operas, 5 masses, and a vast amount of piano and chamber music. Some of his works now are counted among the world's favorites, but it was not that way when Schubert was alive.

The musical part of Schubert's life began when he was 11 and was accepted as a choirboy in the court chapel. His musical training, what there was of it, came at the school. The head of the school was Antonio Salieri (dean of Viennese musicians, and the same man who had been accused of poisoning Mozart), and it was he who gave the young Schubert his only real composition lessons. Schubert's stay at the school lasted for just 5 years, but Salieri continued to work with him for a few years thereafter. Even during the school period, compositions sprang from the young genius.

The 1st truly great song was "Gretchen am Spinnrade," set to words from Goethe's Faust and written in 1814. In the following year, Schubert composed over 150 songs, among them one of his greatest, "Erlkonig"--again to a Goethe poem. "Heidenroslein," another favorite, also came from the same year. By this time, Schubert had developed his style of song composition and was moving into the areas of opera and symphony. None of his operas ever amounted to much, but 3 of his symphonies, the 5th, 8th ("Unfinished"), and 9th ("Great") are standards for symphonic orchestras.

The Unfinished Symphony has a far less romantic tale than has often been presented. Schubert gave the 1st 2 movements of the symphony to a friend, Anselm Huttenbrenner, in 1823, supposedly to submit to a Vienna music society as a consideration for membership. Admittance was not gained, and Huttenbrenner never returned the score. In 1865, Johann Herbeck recovered the score and gave the 1st performance shortly thereafter. The name "Unfinished" was then applied and the stories of the symphony's creation began, none of them true.

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