Two girls standing, holding sheets in their hands (Study for "Schubert at the Piano")
Franz Peter Schubert (; 31 January 179719 November 1828) was an Austrian composer. Although he died at the age of 31, Schubert was a prolific composer, having written some 600 Lieder, nine symphonies (including the famous "Symphony No. 8 (Schubert)|Unfinished Symphony"), liturgy|liturgical music, operas, some incidental music, and a large body of chamber music|chamber and solo piano music. Appreciation of Schubert's music during his lifetime was limited, but interest in his work increased significantly in the decades following his death. Franz Liszt, Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms and Felix Mendelssohn, among others, discovered and championed his works in the 19th century. Today, Schubert is seen as one of the leading exponents of the early Romantic music|Romantic era in music and he remains one of the most frequently performed composers.
with insulting and opprobrious language".#GibbsLife|Gibbs (2000), p. 67 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.#GibbsLife|Gibbs (2000), p. 68 He was nicknamed "Schwämmerl" by his friends, which Gibbs describes as translating to "Tubby" or "Little Mushroom". "Schwammerl" is Austrian (and other) dialect for mushroom; the umlaut makes it a diminutive.
The compositions of 1819 and 1820 show a marked advance in development and maturity of style. 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 (Schubert)|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.#Austin|Austin (1873), pp. 46–47 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. Publishers, however, remained distant, with Anton Diabelli hesitantly agreeing to print some of his works on commission.#Wilberforce|Wilberforce (1866), pp. 90–92 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 paid him. The situation improved somewhat in March 1821 when Vogl sang "Der Erlkönig" at a concert that was extremely well received.#Wilberforce|Wilberforce (1866), p. 25 That month, Schubert composed a variation on a waltz by Anton Diabelli (D. 718), being one of the fifty composers who contributed to Vaterländischer Künstlerverein. , D. 960 (composed in 1828) |description|played by Randolph Hokanson |filename=Schubert - Piano Sonatas - 5 Moderato.ogg|title=1. Molto moderato|description=|format=Ogg |filename2=Schubert - Piano Sonatas - 6 Andante.ogg|title2=2. Andante sostenuto|description2=|format2=Ogg |filename3=Schubert - Piano Sonatas - 7 Scherzo.ogg|title3=3. Scherzo. Allegro vivace con delicatezza|description3=|format3=Ogg |filename4=Schubert - Piano Sonatas - 8 Allegro.ogg|title4=4. Allegro, ma non troppo|description4=Performed by Randolph Hokanson|format4=Ogg }} 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. All in all, he produced seventeen stage works, each of them failures which were quickly forgotten. In 1822, Alfonso und Estrella was refused, partly owing to its libretto.#Newbould|Newbould (1999), p. 173 Fierrabras (opera)|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.#CambridgeCompanion|Gibbs (1997), p. 228 Die Verschworenen (The Conspirators, D. 787) was prohibited by the censor (apparently on the grounds of its title),#GibbsLife|Gibbs (2000), p. 111 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 Ludwig van Beethoven|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!"#Thayer|Thayer, pp. 299–300 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 "Symphony No. 8 (Schubert)|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 did not mention it to any of his friends even though, as Brian Newbould notes, he must have felt thrilled by what he was achieving.
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.#Newbould|Newbould (1999), p. 215 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. 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.#Newbould|Newbould (1999), p. 210 In the spring of 1824 he wrote the Octet (Schubert)|Octet in F (D. 803), "A Sketch for a Grand Symphony"; and in the summer went back to Zseliz. There he became attracted to Hungary|Hungarian musical idiom, and wrote the Divertissement à la hongroise (D. 818) for piano duet and the String Quartet No. 13 (Schubert)|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 Fantasia in F minor for piano four-hands|Fantasie in F minor (D. 940) for piano duet.#Newbould|Newbould (1999), p. 218 His friend Eduard von Bauernfeld|Bauernfeld penned the following verse, which appears to reference Schubert's unrequited sentiments:
In love with a Countess of youthful grace,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 :fr:Messe n°5 (Schubert)|Mass in A flat (fr) (D. 678) and, in 1822, began the "Unfinished Symphony" (Symphony No. 8 (Schubert)|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 (Schubert)|Arpeggione Sonata (D. 821), at a time when there was a minor craze over arpeggione|that instrument.#Newbould|Newbould (1999), pp. 221–225 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 he 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 Walter Scott|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 Hail Mary|Ave Maria prayer.#Emmons|Emmons, p. 38 In 1825, Schubert also wrote the Piano Sonata in A minor, D. 845 (Schubert)|Piano Sonata in A minor (Op. 42, D. 845), and began the "Great" C major Symphony (Symphony No. 9 (Schubert)|Symphony No. 9, D. 944), which was completed the following year.#Newbould|Newbould (1999), p. 228 From 1826 to 1828, Schubert resided continuously in Vienna, except for a brief visit to Graz, Austria|Graz in 1827. The history of his life during these three years was comparatively uninteresting, and is little more than a record of his compositions. In 1826, he dedicated Symphony No. 9 (Schubert)|a symphony (D. 944, that later came to be known as the "Great") to the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde and received an honorarium in return.#Newbould|Newbould (1999), p. 254 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.#Newbould|Newbould (1999), pp. 265–266 The compositions themselves are a sufficient biography. The Death and the Maiden Quartet|String Quartet in D minor (D. 810), with the variations on "Death and the Maiden (song)|Death and the Maiden", was written during the winter of 1825–1826, and first played on 25 January 1826. Later in the year came the String Quartet No. 15 (Schubert)|String Quartet in G major, (D. 887, Op. 161), the "Rondeau brillant" for piano and violin (D. 895, Op. 70), and the Piano Sonata in G major, D. 894 (Schubert)|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 Sylvia" (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.#SmithCarlson|Smith & Carlson, p. 78 In 1827, Schubert wrote the song cycle Winterreise (D. 911), a colossal peak in art song ("remarkable" was the way it was described at the Schubertiades), the Fantasia for piano and violin in C (D. 934), the Impromptus (Schubert)|Impromptus for piano, and the two piano trios (Piano Trio No. 1 (Schubert)|the first in B flat (D. 898), and Piano Trio No. 2 (Schubert)|the second in E flat, D. 929);#Newbould|Newbould (1999) pp. 261–263 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 (Schubert)|String Quintet in C (D. 956), the second Benedictus to the Mass in C, the Schubert's last sonatas|last three piano sonatas, and the collection of songs published posthumously as Schwanengesang ("Swan-song", D. 957).#Newbould|Newbould (1999) pp. 270–274 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 (Schubert)|Symphony No. 9 (D. 944) is dated 1828, but Schubert scholars believe that this symphony was largely written in 1825–1826 (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. This huge, Beethovenian work was declared "unplayable" by a Viennese orchestra.#CambridgeCompanion|Gibbs (1997), p. 202 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).#Newbould|Newbould (1999), p. 385 D. 935 No. 3|description = This Impromptus (Schubert)|Impromptu is a theme and variations based on a theme from Rosamunde. Performed by Randolph Hokanson.|pos=left|format = Ogg}} 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 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 Gustav Mahler|Mahler's use of folksong-like harmonics and bare soundscapes.Newbould (1999) ibid, and comments in the liner notes to the cd recording issued on Hyperion Records 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.#Schonberg|Schonberg, p. 130
—A pupil of Galt's; in desperate case
Young Schubert surrenders himself to another,
And fain would avoid such affectionate pother#Duncan|Duncan (1905), p. 99