Franz Schubert

Copyright Michael D. Robbins 2005


Astro-Rayological Interpretation & Charts
Images and Physiognomic Interpretation

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Franz Peter Schubert—Composer

January 27, 1797,  Vienna, Austria, 1:30 PM, LMT. (Source: Recorded by his father) Died, according to LMR, of “nerve fever” (related to typhus and perhaps involving an occlusion of a cerebral artery—syphilitic in origin) on November 19, 1829.      

Ascendant, Cancer; Sun in Aquarius with Mercury conjunct Pluto also in Aquarius; Moon conjunct Jupiter in Pisces; Venus in Capricorn; Mars in Aries; Saturn in Gemini; Uranus in Virgo; Neptune in Scorpio

Schubert’s greatest fame is as a composer of over six hundred songs—some of them among the world’s most beautiful. He wrote under the influence of the “Sturm und Drang” (“Storm and Stress”) period of culture—a period peculiarly expressive of the fourth ray, very probably his soul ray. His was a lyric gift. His music displays an unusual facility for modulation with rapid changes from major to minor keys; these are characteristics typical of the fourth ray. Aquarius (with Cancer, his Ascendant) contribute to his great empathy and capacity to identify emotionally with many typical human experiences. The second ray (with its susceptibility and weakness) and sixth ray of devotion were also pronounced in his energy system.        

Schubert’s great empathy are signaled by the Moon (feeling) conjunct Jupiter (inclusiveness) in Pisces (the sign which erases the boundaries between self and other. IN this case it can be reasonably proposed, that the Moon is the veil for Neptune, which is the esoteric ruler of his Cancer Ascendant.  Neptune (compassion) is already potently placed square to the Aquarian Sun and in the fifth house of creative self expression.

Further, Neptune (from Scorpio) is loosely trine the Moon/Jupiter conjunction in Pisces. The depth of his feeling nature is here indicated. As well, Mercury and Pluto (the planet of death) are conjunct within one degree, indicating that when he composed (Mercury conjunct the MC) the thought of death was never far from him. The song, “Death and the Maiden” is a convincing demonstration of this attitude.          

Schubert’s trials with the opposite sex are indicated by Mars in Aries square Venus in abstemious Capricorn. This Venus in Capricorn is excellent for beauty of form in the creative process. Uranus trine Venus may have contributed to what is now understood as Schubert’s involvement in homosexuality.         

It is probable that Schubert was haunted by karmic ghosts (Saturn in H12) and by feelings of inadequacy which often accompany the energy of Cancer. But he compensated through prolific creativity (fourth ray Moon conjunct abundant Jupiter in imaginative Pisces) and through a great dedication (Vesta) to the perfection of his art (Venus in exacting Capricorn).

In this chart, Mercury is the planet most powerfully bringing in the fourth ray, and Mercury is conjunct the career point (the MC). Inspiration from the buddhi plane poured into Schubert’s life via this Mercury position, via his fifth house Neptune and via the fourth ray Moon conjunct Jupiter.

Although there was much sadness and frustration in his life (Saturn square his Moon/Jupiter conjunction from H12), he produces some of the worlds most beautiful songs (choral works, symphonies, and chamber music), and so, again, the torture of the fourth ray life (probably with a very sensitive second ray personality) brought great and lasting value to the human heart.


A man endures misfortune without complaint.
(Saturn in Gemini square Moon & Jupiter in Pisces)

A part is handed out, thus we who shall decide for himself whether he has acted well or badly?

Above all things, I must not get angry. If I do get angry I knock all the teeth out of the mouth of the poor wretch who has angered me.
(Mars in Aries square Venus)

Approval or blame will follow in the world to come.

Dearest, most faithful friends, how could I ever forget you - you who are all the world to me. Feeling well? I am exceedingly well.

Do write something sensible to me, some poetry with music in it for instance.

Easy mind, light heart. A mind that is too easy hides a heart that is too heavy.

Every letter of the alphabet coming from you is precious to me.

Every night when I go to bed, I hope that I may never wake again, and every morning renews my grief.

Happy is the man who finds a true friend, and far happier is he who finds that true friend in his wife.
(Venus in Capricorn in 7th house)

Herr v. Steiner has repeatedly made me an offer for an edition of all my compositions.

I am a native of Vienna, son of a schoolmaster, and I am 29 years old.

I am composing like a god, as if it simply had to be done as it has been done.
(Neptune trine Jupiter & Moon. Mercury conjunct MC.)

I am extremely glad that you like my songs. I am sending you one which I have just composed at midnight.

I am living a very simple life, going for long walks, working much at my opera and reading Walter Scott.

I am perspiring to death in this infernal heat. I have composed a whole book of new songs. You can imagine how annoyed I am. You are not here.

I am sitting here, far away in Hungary. I am often depressed.
(Saturn in 12th house)

I detest these women with their compliments. They understand nothing about music, and what they say to me they do not mean.

I doubt you possess any human understanding. The debt was cleared up long since. There can be no discussion about allowing you to publish songs.

I enjoyed the Imperial favor of having been a Court singing boy for five years, pupil of the Imperial and Royal Convict.

I have also been composing some new songs by Goethe. There is nothing to be done with the opera at Vienna.

I have been composing a Fantasia, a piano duet which is also being engraved and is dedicated to a certain important personage.

I have composed two operas quite uselessly.

I have no fixed position, so have hope of attaining in this way the ambition in Art I am striving for.

I have often been to them about my royalties, but every time they said that they had so many expenses, and that my compositions sold very slowly. I'm not going to enter that shop again.

I hope to recover my health, which would cause me to forget many a suffering.

I live without pleasure or friends.

I loved with all my heart, and she loved me in return.
(Venus in 7th house)

I must demand that you return all my manuscripts, both the engraved works, and those which have not been engraved up to the present.

I never force myself to be devout except when I feel so inspired, and never compose hymns of prayers unless I feel within me real and true devotion.

I should be quite well if I were not so upset about this abominable affair of my opera, but I am not bothering any more in that direction.

I still love her, but since then no other can please me so well or better. She was not destined for me.

I suppose I will write the solos they asked me for, and then they will still kiss my hands for the gift. I know those people!

I try to decorate my imagination as much as I can.
(Neptune in 5th house)

I want to write another quartet. I hope to prepare the way for my great symphony.

If only your pure and clean mind could touch me, dear Haydn, nobody has a greater reverence for you than I have.

If you are feeling as well as I am, then you are in excellent health.

It appears to me that they don't knit socks without holes in these days.

My demand is not only greater than yours, but juster, though I should not have claimed it if you had not reminded me of it in such a disagreeable manner.

My health does not allow me to leave the house.

My Mass is finished and will shortly be produced. I should dedicate it to the Emperor or to the Empress, as I think the work is a success.

My new songs from Walter Scott's Lady of the Lake met with great approval.

My work has been conceived by my understanding of music and by my suffering. It is the latter that seems to interest the world least.

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.
(Mercury conjunct Pluto in Aquarius)

Nobody here cares for true art, unless it be the Countess.

Now I am able to find happiness and peace in my own soul.

Now I am alive for once, God be praised, it was time, or I should have been a spoilt musician.

One always believes he is going towards another, only to discover that he is walking side by side. Oh, the torment of him who realizes this!

One bites into the brass mouthpiece of his wooden cudgel, and the other blows his cheeks out on a French horn. Do you call that Art?

Our castle is not imposing, but is well built, and surrounded by a very fine garden. I live in the bailiff's house.

Our reading union has been broken up through eating too many sausages.
(Moon conjunct Jupiter!)

Picture to yourself a man whose health can never be re-established, who from sheer despair makes matters worse instead of better; picture a man whose brilliant hopes have come to nothing.

Please stir up my town friends and make them write to me. Tell my mother that my washing is being looked after exceedingly well.

The cook is a bit gay, the lady's maid is thirty, the kitchen-maid is very pretty and often keeps me company, the nurse is a good old soul and the butler is my rival.

The fellow knows that I like playing dance music!

The greatest misfortune of the wise man and the greatest unhappiness of the fool are based upon convention.

The manager is to be blamed who distributes parts to his players which they are unable to act.

The moment is supreme.

The parson here is as bigoted as an old farm-yard cow, and as stupid as a thoroughbred donkey, and as rough as a buffalo.

The rent collector suits his post very well, for he is a man of great insight into his sacks and bags.

The weather is wretched. Yesterday we had a thunderstorm, and the lightning killed a girl and injured two men.

The world resembles a stage on which every man is playing a part.
(Saturn in Gemini)

There are eight girls in the house in which I am living, and practically all of them are good looking. You can realize that I am kept busy.
(Venus in 7th house)

There are two contrary impulses which govern this man's brain - the one sane, and the other eccentric. They alternate at regular intervals.

We are separated, we are all in a separate corner. That is my trouble.

We do not live any more in happy times when everything seems to be surrounded with a youthful halo.

We never have any money. My music was not even taken into consideration.

We used to sit together so comfortably, and each revealed to the other the offspring of his Art. All were animated by a mutual striving to attain beauty.

What should we do with happiness since misfortune is the only spur we have left to us?

What sort of a donkey ever composed a valse triste!

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.

Whether I shall ever be quite well again I almost doubt.

Why does God endow us with compassion?
(Moon in Pisces)

Why should the composer be more guilty than the poet who warms to fantasy by a strange flame, making an idea that inspires him the subject of his own very different treatment?

You believe happiness to be derived from the place in which once you have been happy, but in truth it is centered in ourselves.

You have composed two symphonies which are so excellent that I hear nothing but good about them everywhere. Are you still alive?

You have to sleep off the plague of despair.

Your Requiem is finished. It has made me sad, for I sang it with all my heart.


Some people come into our lives, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never the same.
Franz Peter Schubert (1797 - 1828)


"I still hope to be able to make something of myself, but who can do anything after Beethoven?"

"This is my end."
Schubert's last words, mourned over his poor life


Franz Schubert

Franz Peter Schubert
Born January 31, 1797
Died November 19, 1828

Occupation Composer
Franz Peter Schubert (January 31, 1797 – November 19, 1828) was an Austrian composer. He wrote some 600 Lieder, seven completed symphonies, the famous "Unfinished Symphony", liturgical music, operas, and a large body of chamber and solo piano music. He is particularly noted for his genius for original melodic and harmonic writing.

While Schubert had a close circle of friends and associates who admired his work (including his teacher Antonio Salieri, and the prominent singer Johann Michael Vogl), wider 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. Interest in Schubert's work increased dramatically following his death.

Early life and education
Schubert was born in Vienna, Austria on January 31st 1797. His father Franz Theodor Florian, the son of a Moravian peasant, was a parish schoolmaster; his mother Elizabeth Vietz was the daughter of a Silesian master locksmith, and had also been a housemaid for a Viennese family prior to her marriage. Of the Schuberts' fifteen children (one illegitimate child was born in 1789), ten died in infancy; only four survived. Their father Franz Theodor was a well known teacher, and his school on the Himmelpfortgrund was well attended.[citation needed] He was not a famous musician, but he taught his son what he could of music.

At the age of five, Schubert began receiving regular instruction from his father and a year later was enrolled at the Himmelpfortgrund school. His formal musical education also began around the same time. His father continued to teach him the rudiments of the violin. At seven Schubert was placed under the instruction of Michael Holzer. Holzer's lessons seem to have mainly consisted of conversations and expressions of admiration[1] 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 was given the opportunity to practice on better instruments. The unsatisfactory nature of Schubert's early training was even more pronounced during his time given that composers could expect little chance of success unless they were also able to appeal to the public as performers. To this end, Schubert's meager musical education was never entirely sufficient.

In October 1808, he was received as a scholar at the Convict. It was at the Convict that Schubert was introduced to the overtures and symphonies of Mozart. His exposure to these pieces as well as various lighter compositions combined with his occasional visits to the opera set the foundation for his greater musical knowledge.

Meanwhile, his genius was already beginning to show itself in his compositions. Antonio Salieri, a leading composer of the period, became aware of the talented young man and decided to train him in musical composition and music theory. Schubert's early essay in chamber music is noticeable, since we learn that at the time a regular quartet-party was established at his home "on Sundays and holidays," in which his two brothers played the violin, his father the cello and Franz himself the viola. 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 Convict he wrote a good deal more 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 death of his mother, which took place in 1812 - a cantata (D.110), words and music, for his father's name-day in 1813, and the closing work of his school-life, his first symphony (D.82).

Teacher at his father's school
At the end of 1813 he left the Convict and entered his father's school as teacher of the lowest class. His father had remarried in the meantime, to Anna Kleyenboeck, the daughter of a silk dealer from the suburb Gumpendorf. For over two years the young man endured the drudgery of the work, which, we are told, he performed with very indifferent success. There were, however, other interests to compensate. He received private lessons in composition from Salieri, who did more for Schubert’s training than any of his other teachers.

Supported by friends
As 1815 was the most prolific period of Schubert's life, 1816 saw the first real change in his fortunes. Somewhere about the turn of the year Spaun surprised him in the composition of Erlkönig (D.328, published as Op.1) — Goethe's poem propped among a heap of exercise books, and the boy at white-heat of inspiration "hurling" the notes on the music-paper. A few weeks later Franz von Schober, a student of good family and some means, who had heard some of Schubert's songs at Spaun's house, came to pay a visit to the composer and proposed to carry him off from school-life and give him freedom to practice his art in peace. The proposal was particularly opportune, for Schubert had just made an unsuccessful application for the post of Kapellmeister at Laibach (the German name for Ljubljana), and was feeling more acutely than ever the slavery of the classroom. His father's consent was readily given, and before the end of the spring he was installed as 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 write all day," he said later to an inquiring visitor, "and when I have finished one piece I begin another."

All this time his circle of friends was steadily widening. Mayrhofer introduced him to Johann Michael Vogl, a famous baritone, who did him good service by performing his songs in the salons of Vienna; Anselm Hüttenbrenner and his brother Joseph ranged themselves among his most devoted admirers; Joseph von Gahy, an excellent pianist, played his sonatas and fantasias; the Sonnleithners, a burgher family whose eldest son had been at the Convict, gave him free access to their home, and organized in his honor musical parties which soon assumed the name of Schubertiaden. The material needs of life were supplied without much difficulty. No doubt Schubert was entirely penniless, for he had given up teaching, he could earn nothing by public performance, and, as yet, no publisher would take his music at a gift; but his friends came to his aid with true Bohemian generosity-- one found him lodging, another found him appliances, they took their meals together and the man who had any money paid the score. Schubert was always the leader of the party, but more often than not, was penniless. Though he was known by half a dozen affectionate nicknames, the most characteristic was kann er 'was? ("Is he able?") or more colloquially, "Can he pay?" (for the food and drink), his usual question when a new acquaintance was introduced. Another nickname was "The Little Mushroom" as Schubert was only five feet, one and one-half inches tall, and tended to corpulence.

The compositions of 1820 are remarkable, and 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, the 23rd Psalm (D.706), the Gesang der Geister (D.705/714), the Quartettsatz in C minor (D.703) and the great "Wanderer Fantasy" for piano (D.760). But of almost more biographical interest is the fact that in this year two of Schubert's operas appeared at the Kärntnerthor theatre, Die Zwillingsbrüder (D.647) on June 14, and Die Zauberharfe (D.644) on August 19. Hitherto his larger compositions (apart from 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 and address a wider public. Still, however, publishers held obstinately aloof, and it was not until his friend Vogl had sung Erlkönig at a concert (Feb. 8, 1821) that Anton Diabelli hesitatingly agreed to print some of his works on commission. The first seven opus numbers (all songs) appeared on these terms; then the commission ceased, and he began to receive the meagre pittances which were all that the great publishing houses ever accorded to him. Much has been written about the neglect from which he suffered during his lifetime. It was not the fault of his friends, it was only indirectly the fault of the Viennese public; the persons most to blame were the cautious intermediaries who stinted and hindered him from publication.

The production of his two dramatic pieces turned Schubert's attention more firmly than ever in the direction of the stage; and towards the end of 1821 he set himself on a course which for nearly three years brought him continuous mortification and disappointment. Alfonso und Estrella was refused, and so was Fierabras (D.796); Die Verschworenen (D.787) was prohibited by the censor (apparently on the ground of its title); Rosamunde (D.797) was withdrawn after two nights, owing to the poor quality of its libretto. Of these works the two former are written on a scale which would make their performances exceedingly difficult (Fierabras, for instance, contains over 1000 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 both of Weber and of Beethoven, but little came of it in either case, though Beethoven cordially acknowledged his genius, the quote attributed to Beethoven being: "Truly, the spark of Divine genius resides in this Schubert!" Schober was away from Vienna; new friends appeared of a less desirable character; on the whole these were the darkest years of his life.

In 1997 musicologist Rita Steblin discovered Schubert's marriage petition in the archives of the Lichtental church. The petition (proposed bride: Therese Grob) was refused on the grounds of the applicant's impecuniosity (poverty).

Last years and masterworks
In 1823 appeared Schubert's first song cycle, Die schöne Müllerin, D. 795, after poems by Wilhelm Müller. This work, together with the later cycle "Winterreise" D. 911, (also written to texts of Müller) is widely considered one of the pinnacles of Schubert's work and of the German Lied in general.

In the spring of 1824 he wrote the magnificent Octet in F (D.803), "A Sketch for a Grand Symphony"; and in the summer went back to Želiezovce, when he became attracted by Hungarian idiom, and wrote the Divertissement a l'Hongroise (D.818) and the String Quartet in A minor (D.804). He held a hopeless passion for his pupil Countess Karoline Eszterházy; but whatever may be said about this romance, its details are not presently known.

Despite his preoccupation with the stage and later with his official duties he found time during these years for a good deal of miscellaneous composition. The Mass in A flat (D.678) was completed and the exquisite "Unfinished Symphony" (Symphony No. 8 in B minor, D.759) begun in 1822. The question of why the symphony was "unfinished" has been debated endlessly and is still unresolved. To 1824, beside the works mentioned above, belong the variations for flute and piano on Trockne Blumen, from the cycle Die schöne Müllerin. There is also a sonata for piano and "Arpeggione" (D.821). This wonderful music is nowadays usually played by cello and piano, although a number of other arrangements have been made.

The mishaps of the recent years were compensated by the prosperity and happiness of 1825. Publication had been moving more rapidly; the stress of poverty was for a time lightened; in the summer there was 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 his famous and beloved Ellens dritter Gesang, D.839, today more popularly though mistakenly referred to as "Schubert's Ave Maria", for while he had set it to Adam Storck's German translation of Scott's hymn from The Lady of the Lake that happens to open with the greeting Ave Maria and also has it for its refrain, subsequently the entire Scott/Storck text in Schubert's song came to be substituted with the complete Latin text of the traditional Ave Maria prayer; and it is in this adaptation that this song of Schubert's is commonly sung today. During this time he also wrote the Piano Sonata in A minor (D.845, op. 42) and the Symphony No. 9 (D.944), which is believed to have been completed the following year, in 1826.

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 is little more than a record of his compositions. The only events worth notice are that in 1826 he dedicated a symphony to the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde and received an honorarium in return. 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. But 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, 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 "Who is 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.

In 1827 Schubert wrote the song cycle Winterreise (D.911), a colossal peak of the art of art-song, the Fantasia for piano and violin in C (D.934), and the two piano trios (B flat, D.898; and E flat, D.929): in 1828 the Song of Miriam, the Mass in E-flat (D.950), the exceedingly beautiful 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 under the fanciful name of Schwanengesang ("Swan-song", D.957), which whilst no true song cycle, retains a unity of style amongst the individual songs, touching unwonted depths of tragedy and the morbidly supernatural. Six of these are to words by Heinrich Heine, whose Buch der Lieder appeared in the autumn. The Symphony No. 9 (D.944) is dated 1828, and many modern Schubert scholars (including Brian Newbould) believe that this symphony, written in 1825-6, was revised for performance in 1828 (a fairly unusual practice for Schubert, for whom publication let alone performance, was rarely contemplated for many 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)

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', reaching extraordinary depths in several chillingly dark songs of this period, especially in the larger cycles, (the song Der Doppelgaenger reaching an extraordinary climax conveying madness at the realization of rejection and imminent death) and yet able to touch repose and communion with the infinite in the almost timeless ebb and flow of the String Quintet. Tragic as Schubert's early death was, (and Schubert expressed the wish, were he to survive his final illness, to further and develop his knowledge of harmony and counterpoint), Schubert still left a vast corpus of truly wonderful music, almost more than the world has time to know and hear.

Schubert's grave in the Zentralfriedhof, Vienna.In the midst of this creative activity, his health deteriorated. He had battled syphilis since 1822. The final illness may have been typhoid fever, though other causes have been proposed; some of his final symptoms match those of mercury poisoning (mercury was a common treatment for syphilis in the early 19th century). At any rate, insufficient evidence remains to make a definitive diagnosis. His solace in his final illness was reading, and he had become a passionate fan of the writings of James Fenimore Cooper. He died aged 31 on Wednesday November 19, 1828 at the apartment of his brother Ferdinand in Vienna. At 3pm that afternoon "someone observed that he had ceased to breathe". By his own request, he was buried next to Beethoven, whom he had adored all his life, in the village cemetery of Währing. 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.

ranz Schubert

Franz Schubert (1797-1828), the earliest master of the romantic art song, was unlike any great composer before him: he never held an official musical position and was neither a conductor nor a virtuoso; his income came entirely form composition. "I have come into the world for no other purpose than to compose," he said. The full measure of his genius was recognized only years after his tragically early death.

Schubert was born in Vienna, the son of a schoolmaster. Even as a child he had astounding musical gifts. "If I wanted to instruct him in anything new," recalled his amazed teacher, "he knew it already." At eleven, he became a choirboy in the court chapel and won a scholarship to the Imperial Seminary.

Schubert managed to compose an extraordinary number of masterpieces in his late teens while teaching at this father's school, a job he hated. His love of poetry led him to the art song; he composed his first great song Gretchen am Spinnrade (Gretchen at the Spinning Wheel), when he was seventeen, and the next year he composed 143 songs , including The Erlking.

When he was nineteen, Schubert's productivity rose to a peak; he composed 179 works, including two symphonies, an opera, and a mass. At twenty-one, he gave up teaching school to devote himself to music. He associated with a group of Viennese poets and artist who led a bohemian existence; often, he lived with friends because he had no money to rent a room of his own. Working incredibly fast, from seven in the morning until early afternoon, he turned out one piece after another. He spent his afternoons in cafes and many of his evenings at "Schubertiads," parties where performances in the homes of Vienna's cultivated middle class; unlike Beethoven, he did not mingle with the aristocracy. The publication and performance of his songs brought him some recognition, but his two most important symphonies--the Unfinished and the Great C Major--were not performed in public during his lifetime.

Schubert died in 1828, age thirty-one. His reputation was mainly that of a fine song composer, until the Unfinished Symphony was performed nearly forty years later and the world could recognize his comprehensive greatness.

Schubert's Music

Along with over 600 songs, Schubert composed symphonies, string quartets and other chamber music, sonatas and short pieces for the piano, masses, and operas. The songs embrace an enormous variety of moods and types; their melodies range from simple, folk like tunes to complex lines that suggest impassioned speech, and their piano accompaniments are equally rich and evocative. Schubert's imaginative harmonies and dissonances provide some of the most poetic moments in music.

The spirit of song pervades his instrumental music, too, and his longer works often include variation movements based on his own songs; his famous Trout Quintet in A Major (1819) is an example. Many of the symphonies and chamber works have long, lyrical melodies, and a number of them--especially the Unfinished Symphony (1822) and the Great C Major symphony (1825-1826)--are comparable in power and emotional intensity to Beethoven's. The Unfinished was written six years before Schubert's death; no one knows why it has only two (rather than four) movements. The Great C Major was discovered ten years after his death by Robert Schumann.




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