Franz Peter Schubert, a chamber music extraordinaire and one of the few truly Viennese composers, lived a short but very prolific life. He’s our Composer of the Week and he rocks!
b. January 31, 1797 in Vienna, Austria
d. November 19, 1828
Schubert was the youngest of five out of nine surviving children. He was taught to play the violin by his schoolmaster father and piano by his oldest brother.
It became apparent quite quickly that Schubert was musically talented, and soon after this realization he became a choir boy and was admitted to the Imperial and Royal City College. While at Royal City College he wrote his first compositions and also met the great Antonio Salieri.
At age 17, Schubert set Goethe’s Faust to create “Gretchen am Spinnrade”–his first lieder masterpiece. A year later he wrote symphonies, attempted 4 operas, chamber music and 150 songs. In 1819 he spent a summer in the countryside, which inspired the writing of the famed Trout Quintet.
Schubert was known to be slovenly in appearance–he often slept in his clothes and glasses. Despite this he was always very diligent about composing and wrote every morning. He was his most prolific while on composition retreats and wrote significantly less at times when he was teaching.
Though it is Symphony No. 8 that is referred to as the infamous “Unfinished Symphony” all but one of his symphonic projects were unfinished and Symphony No. 9 “The Great” was the only completed symphony he wrote.
A selection from Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 “Unfinished”:
Schubert’s Impromptu in b flat minor: