If you are ever in the city of Vienna, and bend your steps to the district called the Lichtenthal, you will there find a thoroughfare, running north and south, called the Nussdorfer Strasse. This is its present name, but in former times it was known as ‘Auf dem Himmelpfortgrund’—meaning ‘Off the Gate of Heaven’—the ‘Himmelpfortgrund’ itself being a small street branching off to the west towards the fortifications. On the right-hand side of the Nussdorfer Strasse, as you face the outskirts of the city, you will come upon a house bearing the number 54 (it was formerly numbered 72), and the curious sign of ‘Zum rothen Krebsen’ (the Red Crab). But your attention will at once be drawn to another feature of the house—a grey marble tablet fixed above the door, with the inscription ‘Franz Schubert’s Geburthaus’ (the house in which Franz Schubert was born), in the centre, and on the right a lyre crowned with a star, and on the left a laurel wreath encircling the date ’31 January, 1797.’
Nothing more than this inscribed tablet will be needed to bring home to your mind the fact that you are actually face to face with the house in which Schubert, the composer of those beautiful songs, ‘The Erl King,’ ‘Hark, hark, the Lark,’ and ‘Sylvia,’ first saw the light. And as you stand before the home of the great song-writer your thoughts will revert in fancy to the time when, a century ago, there issued from that doorway the figure of a boy of eleven years of age, clad in a suit of grey so light as to be almost white, with chubby face, bright dark eyes, with a sparkle in them that the spectacles which he wore could not hide, and a head of thick, curly, black hair. That boy was Franz Schubert, setting out for his examination to be admitted as a scholar at the Imperial Convict, as the school for educating the choristers of the Chapel Royal in Vienna was called.
The son of Franz Schubert, a schoolmaster in the Lichtenthal district, whose character for uprightness and honesty, in addition to his abilities, had won him the respect and esteem of all who knew him, little Franz had from the first shown a remarkable fondness for music. The family were in poor circumstances, the father having sprung from a peasant stock, and by his own industry and a natural gift for teaching succeeded in raising himself to his present position, whilst his wife Elizabeth, in every way a perfect helpmeet for a poor man, was likewise of humble origin. Franz Schubert had nothing to depend upon but his schoolmaster’s pay, and the family included, besides little Franz, three boys and a girl. Nevertheless, such encouragement as could be given to Franz in his love for music was given heartily and sympathetically, for there could not have been a more devoted family than his. At the first, however, Franz showed his independence by making friends with a joiner’s apprentice, who used to take him to a certain pianoforte warehouse in the town, where, to his joy, he was permitted to play little tunes on one of the instruments. At home there was only an old, worn-out piano to practise upon, but with the aid of this and frequent visits to the warehouse the boy managed to acquire unaided a certain groundwork in music, so that when, at the age of seven, his father began to give him lessons on the violin he found that Franz had already made some headway. His elder brothers, Ignaz and Ferdinand, had been taken in hand by the father at the same age, and Ignaz, who was twelve years older than Franz, gave his little brother lessons on the pianoforte.
It was soon clear, however, that neither Ignaz nor his father could keep pace with Franz’s abilities—the boy had himself told Ignaz that he had no further need of his help, and could go on alone—and it was decided to send him to the choirmaster of the parish, Michael Holzer, to learn the violin and piano, as well as singing, the organ, and thorough-bass. Holzer, in turn, was astonished at the boy’s powers, and assured the father that he had never had such a pupil before. ‘If I wish to teach him anything now,’ he declared, ‘I find that he knows it already! I can only listen to him in amazement!’
Franz, with all his devotion to music, was a merry-hearted boy, never so happy as when, in the play-hour, he found himself surrounded by his schoolfellows, with whom he was first favourite. By the time he had reached his eleventh year his voice had acquired such power and beauty of expression as to procure him the chief soprano’s place in the choir of the parish church, where he also played the violin solos as they occurred in the service. At home he was even then writing little songs and pieces for the pianoforte—an early promise of what was to follow. The family, as we have seen, were poor and hardworking, Ignaz and Ferdinand were helping their father in the school, and it was evident, therefore, that the talent which Franz undoubtedly possessed must be turned to good account as soon as possible. The necessary step to this end was to obtain his admittance to the Convict, in order that he might be trained for the Imperial Chapel, and in the meanwhile receive his education free in return for his services.
Accordingly, one morning in the month of October 1808, Franz, attired in his suit of grey, presented himself for examination by the Court Capellmeisters and singing-master. A number of boys were to be examined at the same time, and whilst they were waiting they indulged themselves in mirth and jokes at the expense of the short, chubby-faced, spectacled boy clad in grey, ‘Hullo, my friend,’ cried one, who towered a good foot above poor Franz’s head, ‘how did you leave your father the miller?’—an allusion to Franz’s appearance which was greeted with a burst of laughter from the other boys. A second preferred a sarcastic inquiry as to the price of flour, whilst a third desired to know whether Franz expected to get through in such a garb—sallies which the victim bore with open good humour, the more so as he felt conscious of his own powers. And, indeed, the laugh was soon turned against his mockers; for, when he came to be examined, his singing of the trial-pieces, in addition to his skill in solving the problems set him, so astonished his examiners that they passed him through at once, and he was ordered to don the uniform of the imperial choristers forthwith. With a glow of pride Franz arrayed himself in his new dress, which, with its edgings of gold lace, he thought dazzlingly beautiful after his despised suit of grey.
Franz’s entry into the Convict implied a long separation from home, but he soon found plenty to occupy his mind and claim his interest. The school orchestra was a great feature of the new life, in which our hero, from his home studies, was enabled at once to take a prominent place. Practice was held daily, and the musicians bent their energies to mastering the overtures and symphonies of Haydn and Mozart, with the works of many of the minor masters. Even Beethoven’s works were not considered to be beyond the scope of their powers as time went on. The work of all others which made the deepest impression on Schubert’s mind at this stage, however, was Mozart’s ‘G minor Symphony.’ ‘One can hear the angels singing in it,’ he used to say. But he revelled also in the overtures to ‘Figaro’ and the ‘Zauberflöte,’ and, indeed, the orchestral music to which he was now introduced opened up to his mind a vista of never-ending delight.
On the very first day that he took his seat in the orchestra his clever playing attracted the attention of the leader, a big fellow named Spaun, who sat immediately in front of him. On turning round to ascertain who it was that was bringing forth such excellent tone from his fiddle, and, moreover, playing with such precision, Spaun discovered it to be ‘a small boy in spectacles, named Franz Schubert.’ From that moment big Spaun became little Franz’s intimate friend and counsellor. To him one day Franz, who was characteristically shy of speaking about himself and his longings, made a blushing admission that he had already composed a good deal. ‘Indeed,’ he added, as if in extenuation, ‘indeed, I cannot help it, and I should do it every day, only I cannot afford to get music-paper.’ Spaun grasped the situation at once, and thenceforth Franz was kept supplied with all the music-paper he required, a kindness for which he showed his gratitude by devoting his spare time to composition. In his playing, too, he made such rapid progress that before long he was taking the first violin, and on occasions when Ruzicka, the conductor, was not present he was appointed to lead the orchestra. It was observed by others besides Ruzicka and Spaun how greatly Schubert’s gifts and earnestness influenced the rest of the players, and tended to increase and strengthen their taste for good music. His deep sentiment for what was greatest and best in his art had from the first separated him from his schoolfellows, and now the magnetism of his genius and earnestness was drawing them one after another to his side. Franz Schubert had already become a power in the school.
Visits to the home were only to be made on Sundays and holidays, and they were events to which he looked forward with the keenest delight. Performances in which each member could take a share formed the chief occupation of the family on these occasions. Perhaps Franz had brought home a quartet of his own writing, and then the father would bring forth his ‘cello, and Ignaz and Ferdinand take first and second violins, while Franz chose the viola, in order that he might be better able to judge of the effect, and the work would be played through, with criticism or approval of its merits at the conclusion. The father would sometimes play a wrong note; at first Franz would take no notice, but if the error were repeated he would look up with a smile, and say gently, ‘Herr Vater, something must be wrong there,’ and it is a proof of the rapid progress which he had made in music since the days of his father’s teaching that his judgment in such matters was never questioned.
By degrees a reverence for Beethoven’s genius was making itself felt in regard to Franz’s musical studies. Not long before he joined the school the orchestra had been invited to give a performance at Schönbrunn, when Beethoven was present, and Franz had listened with the deepest interest to his schoolfellows’ account of their reception by the great master. One day, when some of his songs had been sung at a school performance, Franz turned to his friend Spaun with the inquiry whether the latter thought it possible that he (Franz) would ever be able to accomplish anything in the shape of composition. To which Spaun, in surprise, answered that there could be no doubt in the matter, since he had already done a great deal. ‘Perhaps,’ replied Franz thoughtfully; ‘I sometimes have dreams of that sort, but who can do anything after Beethoven?’
With his passionate love for music dominating his thoughts and energies, it is not surprising that Schubert should have fallen behind in his ordinary studies. From the point of view of the authorities the Convict represented a complete school with a strongly-developed musical side; but for Schubert it existed merely as a means to an end, and that end music. This fact was apparent in about a year after he entered the school, nevertheless his popularity suffered no decrease thereby, for his backwardness in most of the subjects in which other boys excelled was overshadowed by his extraordinary progress in the art which was absorbing him so entirely. And as time went on his desire for composition increased to such an extent that his kind friend Spaun must often have been taxed to keep pace with his demand for music-paper. Franz had already begun with methodical care to place the date of composition upon every piece which he wrote, and thus we are enabled to ascertain precisely when he composed his first pianoforte work of importance; it is a fantasia for four hands, comprising more than twelve movements, and filling thirty-two closely-written pages of music-paper, and it bears the date, ‘April 8—May 1, 1810.’ Following this came his first attempt at song-writing, in the shape of a long piece for voice and pianoforte, called ‘Hagars Klage’ (Hagar’s Lament over her dying Son), which also contains twelve movements, and is remarkable for its frequent unconnected changes of key. Melancholy ideas were evidently uppermost in Schubert’s mind at this time in connection with music, for the ‘Hagar’ was followed by another piece of even more lugubrious character, called ‘Leichenfantasie’ (Corpse-fantasia), a musical setting of Schiller’s grim poem beginning:
‘With a deathlike glimmer
Stands the moon above the dying trees;
Sighing wails the Spirit through the night;
Mists are creeping;
Stars are peeping
Pale aloft like torches in a cave.’
He was now fairly launched upon composition, and during the two succeeding years his pen was not allowed to rest, songs and instrumental pieces being produced in rapid succession.
Despite the many acts of kindness which he received at the hands of his friends Franz was made to feel in many ways the want of a little pocket-money such as fell to the lot of his more fortunate schoolfellows. He had to contend with numerous discomforts, more especially in the winter months, when the supplies both of firing and food were inadequate, and one dark November day we find him sitting down, chilled and hungry, to pen the following appeal to his brother Ferdinand:
‘You know from experience that one can often enjoy a roll and an apple or two, especially when one must wait eight hours and a half after a poor dinner for a meagre supper. The few groschen which my father gives me are all spent the first day, and what is one to do the rest of the time? “Those who hope will not be confounded,” says the Bible, and I firmly believe it. Suppose, for instance, you send me a few kreutzers monthly. You would never miss them, whilst I should shut myself up in my cell and be quite happy. St. Matthew also says: “Let him that hath two coats give one to the poor,” In the meantime I trust you will lend your ear to the voice crying to you incessantly to remember your poor brother Franz, who loves and confides in you.’
But these long waits between dinner and supper, together with the hardship of being compelled to sit for hours in a fireless practice-room, were not destined to endure much longer for Franz. The termination of his career at the Convict was decided upon in consequence of his resolution to devote himself wholly to music. He had a little circle of faithful friends in the school, every one of whom regarded him as a genius, and who loved him also for his own sake; they only waited for him to compose in order to perform under his direction, and they would fain have kept him amongst them; but they knew his longings, and they realised the impossibility of retaining so gifted a composer within the compass of their ranks. Schubert loved them too, and though he went out from their midst to seek a wider field for his genius, he never forgot that he was one of them, and as composition after composition flowed from his pen it was brought to the Convict orchestra to be tried and approved by his kindest and best of critics.
Apart from this determination to give himself up to music there was no pressing reason for his leaving the school, for it was reported that the Emperor himself, having observed Schubert’s beautiful voice and wonderful power of expression, had evinced so much interest in his progress as to offer him a foundation scholarship in the school, on condition that he should qualify himself for examination during the holidays. Schubert, however, had made up his mind, and towards the end of the year 1813 he quitted the Convict, his farewell being signalised by the composing of his first Symphony in honour of the birthday of Dr. Lang, the musical director. A year before this event took place, the mother, who had worked unceasingly to keep the home together on the slender means which her husband’s calling provided, had died. Her loss was keenly felt by the family, but by none more than by Franz himself, who realised how much he owed to the love and care bestowed upon him in his childhood by this excellent, hard-working mother.
Schubert was now entering upon his seventeenth year, and stood at the entrance of a career in music which, judging from his compositions at the Convict school, must have seemed to his friends to be full of promise. He himself was full of fire and energy, and longing to follow in the footsteps of the great masters whose works had inspired his earliest efforts. But, though as yet perhaps he failed to realise it, his genius, whatever may have been the source of its inspiration, was surely leading him towards the path wherein his strength chiefly lay—a path almost untrodden, and which he alone was destined to adorn with the choicest flowers of his imagination, in order that others might enjoy their perfume for evermore—the pathway of song. Already those early songs to which the school musicians had accorded a sympathetic hearing as they flowed fresh from his pen evinced to those capable of judging far more power and individuality than did any of his more ambitious instrumental compositions.
But, as we have said, Schubert himself probably had not realised this great truth as yet. He stood at the threshold of a future which gave him no insight into its possibilities, which for him at that moment conveyed no more than a hope of fulfilment of his one burning desire—to write, write, write. It was the pure longing of the true musician to make mankind at large partakers of his heavenly gift. Let us remember this of Franz Schubert, because it is absolutely true of him, and because it helps us to understand his true nature.
Schubert’s determination was put to a severe test on leaving the Convict, for he had hardly returned home ere the dread summons for enlistment was placed in his hands. The Continental law of conscription admits of no distinction such as that which Nature confers upon an individual by the gift of genius; and to escape the danger which now threatened him, and which, by depriving him of his liberty for several years to come, appeared to be wholly insupportable, Schubert seized upon the only remedy which offered itself. He at once qualified himself for becoming an assistant to his father in the latter’s school. The choice lay between two evils, and Schubert chose the lesser; for though he cordially detested the drudgery of teaching, it at least prevented his being called upon to serve in the ranks, and at the same time secured to him a certain amount of leisure for composition. Moreover, there was opportunity for maintaining relations with his little circle of intimates at the Convict—a privilege which Schubert could not have forgone without a severe pang—as well as for making new friends.
It is easy to imagine the reluctance with which Schubert went about his daily task of teaching the infant class in his father’s school. Every minute thus spent must have seemed to him an hour, and probably the little ones, no less than their impatient teacher himself, breathed a deep sigh of relief when the play-hour arrived. To Schubert it meant freedom for work—real work—when he could fly to his desk, and write down the musical thoughts which he had been burning to express the whole morning. Impatient as he felt under the constraint put upon him he never complained; probably the dread of the conscription was constantly haunting him, for no fewer than three summonses to serve reached him at this time. There were, moreover, bright intervals in the round of scholastic work, when he could forget that he was a schoolmaster, and throw himself heart and soul into his art. He had lately made the acquaintance of a musical family named Grob, residing in the Lichtenthal, comprising a mother and her son and daughter, in whose house he was received on terms of friendship, quite as much for himself as for his music. Therese Grob possessed a fine soprano voice, with which she did full justice to the songs which Schubert brought to her to sing, whilst Heinrich Grob played both the pianoforte and the ‘cello, with the result that many evenings were passed in musical enjoyment. His circle of admirers at the Convict, too, were always eager to welcome every new piece that he found time to compose. Nor had he forgotten his old friend and master Holzer, the organist and choir-master at the Lichtenthal Church, who had been the first to acknowledge his talents. Schubert regularly attended the church, and this fact, combined with his affection for the old organist, led to his writing his first Mass for performance by the church choir. The performance, on October 16, 1814, excited so much interest that it was repeated on the 26th of the same month at the Augustine Church. The latter occasion was one not likely to be soon forgotten by those who were present. Franz conducted, the choir being led by Holzer, whilst Ferdinand presided at the organ, and Therese Grob sang the part for first solo voices. Amongst the audience was Antonio Salieri, Court Capellmeister at Vienna, whom Beethoven had acknowledged as his master, and who now, having praised Schubert warmly for his work, declared that the latter should henceforth be his pupil. Every one was delighted, and the father felt so proud and happy that he signalised the event by presenting Franz with a five-octave piano. To be able to rank himself with Beethoven as ‘scholar of Salieri’ was indeed a high reward for Schubert, and the old man was as good as his word, for he gave his new pupil daily lessons for a considerable time.
The year 1814 did not close without witnessing a striking addition to the pile of manuscript by which the young schoolmaster-composer was surrounded. How variously his mind was swayed during this period we may understand from the fact that he had hardly finished the third act of a comic opera (‘Des Teufels Lustschloss’—The Devil’s Pleasure-Castle) before setting to work on his ‘Mass in F’ which we have just mentioned. The compositions of this year also include seventeen songs, and one at least of these, the beautiful ‘Gretchen am Spinnrade’ (Gretchen at her Spinning-wheel), we may regard as a forerunner of the immortal songs that were to follow. And now, too, the special circumstance which was destined to influence Schubert in choosing the path wherein his genius found its most fitting expression was near at hand. One afternoon in December of this year a friend took him to call upon a poet named Johann Mayrhofer, the words of a poem by whom Schubert had set to music a few days before. They found the poet at his lodgings, situated in one of the darkest and gloomiest streets of the city. The apartment contained little furniture beyond a worn-out piano and a worm-eaten bookcase filled with well-used books, and the general air of neglect and dilapidation was heightened by the fact that the window was overshadowed by a huge building on the opposite side of the narrow street. Gloomy and cheerless as it was in appearance, the room was in keeping with the character of the man who occupied it. Johann Mayrhofer was regarded by his acquaintance as an hypochondriac, whose general depression of spirits entered largely into his poetical writings. But those who knew him intimately were aware of a gentle and tender side to his ordinarily stern nature. He was, in fact, a ‘lonely, self-contained, self-taught man’—one whose gifts conveyed to him the ability to discern and appreciate beauty, but at the same time left him powerless to banish from his mind the thought of evil working its destructive influence both upon himself and his surroundings. Upon the impressionable mind of Schubert—already attuned to sadness—the personality of Mayrhofer exercised a special charm, and the two at once became fast friends. The attraction, however, was perfectly mutual, for Schubert’s friendship helped to mature Mayrhofer’s powers, with the result that the one wrote in order that the other might set to music that which was written, and to this alliance we are indebted for some of Schubert’s finest songs.
Every moment that could be snatched from the drudgery of the schoolroom was now devoted to composition, and the year following that in which the acquaintance with Mayrhofer began furnishes the most remarkable testimony to Schubert’s powers. In this year (1815) he composed no fewer than a hundred and thirty-seven songs, and six operas and melodramas, in addition to a great deal of Church and chamber music and pieces for the pianoforte. Of the songs, twenty-nine were written in August alone, eight of this number bearing one date, August 15, and seven more being produced on the 19th of the same month. A wonderful year, indeed, and our astonishment is increased when we reflect that many of these songs, written as they were under conditions which would seem to have precluded the possibility of their having been matured and developed in his mind before being written down, are deservedly placed amongst the most immortal of Schubert’s works. When, too, the extraordinary length of some of the songs is taken into account—fifty-five pages of closely-written manuscript in one case, twenty-two pages of print in another—one marvels how the time could have been found for the mere mechanical process of writing them down.
To enumerate the songs included in this long list would take up too much space, but the story of how one great song came to be written must be told here. Mayrhofer could claim friendship with Goethe, and it was doubtless through Mayrhofer that Schubert’s attention was first drawn to the writings of the great German poet. One afternoon in the winter of this year 1815, the ‘old Convicter’ Spaun called upon Schubert, and found him in his room intently writing music, with a book of poems by his side. On inquiring what it was that absorbed his attention, Schubert looked up with a face aglow with inspiration. ‘Oh, I have come across such a poem!’ he exclaimed. ‘Have you ever read it? It is Goethe’s “Erl King.”‘ Without giving his friend time to reply he turned once more to his paper, and recommenced jotting down the notes with astonishing rapidity. Spaun sat by, wondering, but not daring to disturb him. At length Schubert threw down his pen with a sigh. ‘It is finished,’ said he, ‘and now let us look it through.’ It was the first sketch of the famous song of the ‘Erl King,’ and when the accompaniment had been filled in, the two friends conveyed the manuscript to the Convict. His old friends and admirers soon formed a group around the piano, and Schubert, sitting down, sang the song through, and then one of the school singers sang it after him. To Schubert’s surprise—and the fact comes to us with something like a shock—the first hearing of the ‘Erl King’ was received by the Convict orchestra with some coldness. The truth is the dramatic force embodied in the music was too strong for them—it fairly took their breath away; it was so unlike anything that Schubert had hitherto produced, or that they had ever heard. And when he came to the passage, ‘Mein Vater, mein Vater, jetzt fasst er mich an!’ in which an apparent disharmony discovered itself, one or two of the listeners ventured to express their dissent, and it was necessary for Herr Ruzicka, the professor of harmony who was present, to explain to his pupils that the conjunction was permissible. Of the ‘Erl King’ our story will have more to relate later on; in the meantime we may remark that the rapidity of its composition leaves no room for doubt that it was in itself as pure a piece of inspiration as any other of Schubert’s works that could be named, and, furthermore, that it affords a striking instance of the power which he possessed of grasping, almost at a single glance, the musical significance of a poem which appealed strongly to the emotions.
Unquestionably, however, the monotony of his school work weighed heavily upon his mind, and, in his own opinion, was cramping his powers of production. The longing to be free to devote himself wholly to his art was intensified day by day, and when, in the following year, he learnt that a director was about to be appointed at a newly-created Government school of music at Laibach, near Trieste, he hastened to apply for the post. True, the salary was only £21 a year, but the gaining of the position would mean instant freedom from his present bondage, and to Schubert that implied almost everything. It is evident, however, that those who recommended him for the post were by no means convinced of his fitness for governing, for their letters were but half-hearted, and the selection fell upon another man who, it turned out, was also recommended by one of Schubert’s supporters.
The depression resulting from his disappointment was soon to be relieved by the agency of a new friend. A young man, named Franz von Schober, of good family and some private means, came to Vienna with the object of entering the University. Some time before taking this step Franz Schober had met with several of Schubert’s songs, which at that date were being circulated in manuscript, and, lover of music as he was, the young student had revelled in the beauties of the unknown composer, and longed to make his acquaintance. When, therefore, he reached Vienna he lost no time in finding his way to the Schubert home in the Himmelpfortgrund. He found Schubert seated at his desk busily writing, for Schober had happened upon a favourable moment when school was over for the day. Little did the composer dream, as he heard his visitor announced, that his deliverance from the bondage which had become wellnigh insupportable, was so close at hand. A few minutes’ intercourse sufficed to show the two young men that their sympathies and interests lay on a common plane. Schubert, quick to detect the sympathy which Schober was not loath to express, felt drawn towards his new friend, whilst Schober, for his part, as he glanced at the piles of manuscript which occupied every available space in the small room, evinced so deep an astonishment at the evidence of such untiring industry that Schubert was fain to tell him in a few words how he was placed, and of his longings for freedom. Then Schober saw his opportunity for rendering a service which he hoped might prove as acceptable to Schubert as it would be congenial to himself—would not Schubert consent to live with him, at any rate, for a time? Schober had a claim on which to found this proffer—namely, that he was already well known to Spaun, to whose medium, indeed, was due the fact that Schubert’s songs had been first brought under his notice. Franz’s heart leapt within him at the prospect of being able to give his whole time to his beloved music; he could not refuse a request so modestly and tactfully conveyed, and obviously so kindly meant, and the tears started to the eyes of both as the young men grasped each other by the hand. It was not difficult for Schubert to obtain his father’s consent to the arrangement, for there was more than a suspicion that the latter was not altogether satisfied with the manner in which Franz had of late fulfilled his scholastic duties—a fact which need occasion no surprise when his strong musical temperament is taken into consideration.
Thus it came about that Schubert gained his release, and the two friends took up residence together at Schober’s lodgings. Schubert, however, was not inclined to live entirely at his friend’s expense, and so, unwillingly enough, he gave a few music-lessons. But not for long—the same unconquerable dislike to teaching in any shape or form asserted itself, and the pupils vanished. He might easily have secured more pupils had he so desired, for there were many friends, moving in higher circles than his own, who were ready to assist him; but it is just here that we get a glimpse of Schubert’s true character. He had no aspiration to mingle with those whom, in his modest, unaffected way, he considered to be above him. He valued friendship, from whomsoever it came, but his whole nature was opposed to turning the advances of the rich or great to his own advantage. Unlike Beethoven, he had no faculty for ‘imposing’ on the aristocracy (to borrow Beethoven’s favourite phrase for describing his own relations with those of superior rank to himself); on the contrary, Schubert courted no society beyond that of his own class—in which, indeed, his affections wholly centred themselves, and in which alone his true nature allowed itself to be revealed. It is a strong instance of this feeling that he loved best of all the praise that came from the members of his own family, and next that which emanated from his own circle of friends. Nevertheless, whatever of class distinction may have influenced Schubert in the distribution of his affections and in the revelation of himself, no such barrier existed in the minds of those who were drawn to his side; in a word, he was loved by all who knew him without regard to rank, wealth, or age.
The year 1821 found Schubert, at the age of twenty-four, a composer of more than seven years’ standing, and yet almost unknown outside the circle of his friends and acquaintance. Since the date when he went to reside with Schober he had continued to pour forth his compositions without intermission, and yet so far not a single work had been printed. True, many of his songs had been sung from manuscript before large and appreciative audiences at the musical meetings organised by the father of Leopold Sonnleithner, one of Schubert’s old schoolfellows, and the most faithful of friends; but when the leading Vienna publishers were asked to undertake the publication of the song which had evoked the greatest enthusiasm when rendered by the well-known amateur Gymnich, they shook their heads. The composer was unknown, and with so difficult an accompaniment as that of the ‘Erl King’ the sale of the song could not be great. Such was the opinion of the publishers; but, to their honour let it be recorded, Sonnleithner and Gymnich refused to be influenced by this adverse verdict. They instantly resolved to print the song at their own risk, and when the next concert took place at the Sonnleithner mansion the resolution was announced. One hundred copies were subscribed for on the spot, and with this substantial encouragement the engraving of the ‘Erl King’ and a second song, ‘Gretchen am Spinnrade,’ was at once proceeded with, the sale of these songs being undertaken by the music publishers on commission. The enterprise was attended by so much success that its promoters were enabled to proceed with the publication of further songs, until, when the seventh had been reached, the publishers deemed themselves perfectly safe in assuming the entire risk of publication, and the eighth work appeared on May 9, 1822, as ‘the property of the publishers.’
A great step towards the establishment of Schubert’s fame was thus assured; but we must pause in our story to recount the means by which, apart from the initiative taken in the matter by his faithful friends, Schubert’s recognition at the hands of the public was brought about. On March 7, 1821, the ‘Erl King’ was sung by Johann Vogl, a famous opera singer in Vienna at that time, at a public concert held under royal patronage. The song was received with storms of applause, and from this point the public demand for Schubert’s writings commenced. The attention of Vogl, whose intellectual gifts are said to have outshone even his vocal attainments, had been drawn to Schubert’s songs some five years before the event just mentioned. Franz Schober, who knew him well as a visitor at his father’s house, had pressed the singer to accompany him to his lodgings in order to be introduced to Schubert, and Vogl had smilingly acquiesced. Schober’s praises of his newfound friend had sounded so often in Vogl’s ears that the request could not be refused. Schober was certain that the great man would be enchanted with Schubert’s writings, at which the actor-singer had only smiled once more; he deemed it to be merely youthful enthusiasm influenced by personal affection. On reaching the lodgings in the Landkrongasse they had found Schubert hard at work as usual, and the floor as well as the table strewn with sheets of music-paper. Vogl, whose society was courted by all ranks, at once made himself at home, and did his best by a few gay sallies to put the composer at his ease. In this, however, he was quite unsuccessful. The fact that there was a difference of twenty years between their respective ages, when added to the singer’s popularity, may have partly accounted for the failure; at any rate, Schubert was overwhelmed by confusion, and had nothing to say in his own behalf. Vogl thereupon took up several of the songs, humming them to himself as he went along, and Schober, watching him intently, saw his interest deepen, until at length, despite his great experience as a singer, he was evidently impressed by what he read. When he left he shook Schubert’s hand warmly, and said: ‘There is stuff in you, but you squander your fine thoughts instead of making the most of them.’
Nevertheless, Schober was right; Vogl had been deeply impressed, and the visit marked the beginning of a close friendship. Schubert soon learned to appreciate Vogl’s sincerity and advice, and as time went on the latter’s visits became more and more frequent, until the picture might often have been seen of Vogl singing Schubert’s latest songs to the latter’s accompaniment. To the completeness of this union Schubert himself testifies in a letter to his brother Ferdinand: ‘When Vogl sings and I accompany him we seem for the moment to be one.’ Vogl, for his part, afterwards wrote of Schubert’s songs that they were ‘truly Divine inspirations, utterances of a musical clairvoyance!’ and he emphasised the fact, which had not hitherto been appreciated, that ‘the finest poems of our greatest poets may be enhanced and even transcended when translated into musical language’—an important testimony to the great service which Schubert was rendering to vocal music.
The five years which had elapsed since the friendship with Vogl began had been passed in the production, as we have seen, of an immense mass of compositions covering almost every branch of the art; but as none of these works had so far produced any money it is obvious that, for the first two years after leaving his father’s house, Schubert must have been dependent upon the hospitality of his friends. His residence with Schober lasted only six months, at the end of which time Schober’s brother came to reside with him, and Schubert had to give up his room. Teaching was entirely distasteful to him, as we know; yet we can well understand that the pressure of circumstances alone may have compelled him to accept, in the summer of 1818, an engagement as music-teacher in the family of Count Johann Esterhazy. The terms of this engagement were that he should spend the summer months with the family at their seat at Zelész, in Hungary, returning with them to Vienna for the winter. How difficult it must have been for Schubert to sever himself, even for a time, from the circle of which he was the life and centre, in order to enter a family belonging to those ranks with which he avowedly had nothing in common, may be imagined. Within his own circle he was adored—nay, worshipped—by one and all. The life, too, was so entirely free and unrestrained; the members addressed each other by nicknames. Schubert had several pet names, amongst them the ‘Tyrant,’ from his affectionate persecution of young Hüttenbrenner, who in return lavished upon him the affection of a slave for his idol. They were all boisterous, merry, life-loving spirits, venting their feelings in howls, repartees, sham-fights, and mock-concerts—there is even a story of their ‘performing’ the ‘Erl King,’ with Schubert himself accompanying them on a tooth-comb! The change from this unconventional life to the aristocratic surroundings of Zelész was therefore immense; yet Schubert was not unhappy. The family were musical, the comforts were undeniable, and the duties not so heavy as to preclude his enjoying a considerable amount of leisure for composition.
At Zelész he heard for the first time many of the national Hungarian melodies sung or played by the gypsies, or by the servants at the castle, and their beauty seems to have been impressed upon his memory by the beautiful country in which he took his rambles. Later on he was to give these airs an artistic setting in the shape of his ‘First Waltzes.’ Of one of his pieces—the ‘Divertissement à la hongroise’—it is told that returning late one afternoon from a walk, he lingered beside the open window of the kitchen, in order to listen to the air which was being sung by the kitchen-maid within as she leaned against the fireplace. He wrote frequent letters to his friends—his home circle—whom he addresses as his ‘dearest, fondest friends, Spaun, Schober, Mayrhofer, and Senn—you who are everything to me.’ He entreats them to write soon: ‘Every syllable of yours is dear to me.’ Nobody is overlooked or forgotten, for his messages include ‘all possible acquaintances.’ As for himself, he speaks of his happiness and good health, and tells them that he ‘is composing like a god.’ As regards his duties, he describes himself as ‘composer, manager, audience, everything in one.’ ‘No one here,’ he says in another letter, ‘cares for true art, unless it be now and then the Countess, so I am left alone with my beloved, and have to hide her in my room, or my piano, or my own breast. If this often makes me sad, on the other hand it often elevates me all the more. Several songs have lately come into existence, and I hope very successful ones.’ Of his relations with the family he says: ‘The Count is a little rough; the Countess proud, but not without heart; the young ladies good children. I need not tell you, who know me so well, that with my natural frankness I am good friends with everybody.’
A letter of this time, written to his brother Ferdinand, affords a pleasing insight into his frank, loving nature, as well as an instance of his fondness for his old home. Ferdinand had sent him a Requiem of his own composing to look over.
August 24, 1818.
‘Dear Brother Ferdinand,
‘It is half-past eleven at night, and your Requiem is ready. It has made me sorrowful, as you may believe, for I sang it with all my heart. What is wanting you can fill in, and put the words under the music and the signs above. And if you want much rehearsal you must do it yourself, without asking me in Zelész. Things are not going well with you; I wish you could change with me, so that for once you might be happy. You should find all your heavy burdens gone, dear brother; I heartily wish it could be so. My foot is asleep, and I am mad with it. If the fool could only write it wouldn’t go to sleep!
‘Good morning, my boy, I have been asleep with my foot, and now go on with my letter at eight o’clock on the 25th. I have one request to make in answer to yours. Give my love to my dear parents, brothers, sisters, friends, and acquaintances, especially not forgetting Carl. Didn’t he mention me in his letter? As for my friends in the town, bully them, or get some one to bully them well, till they write to me. Tell my mother that my linen is well looked after, and that I am well off, thanks to her motherly care. [After asking for some articles of clothing, for which he will send the money very soon, he proceeds.] For July, with the journey-money, I got 200 florins [about £8]…. Though I am so well and happy, and every one so good to me, yet I shall be immensely glad when the moment arrives for going to Vienna. Beloved Vienna, all that is dear and valuable to me is there, and nothing but the actual sight of it will stop my longing! Again entreating you to attend to all my requests, I remain, with much love to all, your true and sincere.
The story of Schubert’s life, from the time when by the powerful aid of his friend Vogl the musical public of Vienna were awakened to the fact that a composer of rare quality was working in their midst unknown, unfolds itself to us as a record of continuous struggle, relieved by occasional success. It is true that as he became better known the appreciation of his works spread far beyond the confines of his native city; at the same time it must be remembered that his poverty was extreme. As yet his works had brought him little or nothing; add to this his native bashfulness, together with the fact that his marvellous productive powers were animated by no desire to push himself where, as a composer, he had every right to be; that he was always retiring, and always modestly undervaluing everything he produced; that even when he had finished a fine composition it was often put aside in some receptacle and forgotten; that, in a word, he wrote, not for the public eye, not for praise, but simply and solely because he was impelled by the spirit within him. When we consider all this it need not surprise us to learn that Schubert’s progress in a worldly sense was slow and halting. Again, his physical strength was by no means adapted to bear the immense strain which this continuous labour involved; and when we learn that his mode of living was most irregular (when he was not staying with friends he would be living from hand to mouth in poor lodgings by himself), and that his sensitive overstrung nature was denied the nourishment which it so sorely needed—a result due in part to his distresses, but partly also to his improvidence—we can form a tolerably clear picture of the manner in which his days were passed.
Yet if his distresses and anxieties were so many dense clouds shutting out, for months together, the sunshine and warmth from his life, that life itself, taken as a whole, was by no means destitute of happiness. The musical temperament is one which cannot be cast down for long; let the cloud-rift be ever so small, it suffices to let in a flood of sunshine to such a nature as that which Schubert possessed. But how much happier might his life have been if, in the absence of the ability to manage his own affairs to better advantage, some one had been at hand to take this responsibility off his shoulders. Alas! not one of his friends seems to have assumed this important part, notwithstanding the affection they professed for him. Left to himself, no sooner had his songs attained a marketable value than, pressed by hunger and the other necessaries of life, he consented to part with the copyright of the first twelve of his published songs—including in this number the ‘Erl King’ and the ‘Wanderer’—for the sum of eight hundred silver gulden (equal to eighty pounds sterling), and this in face of the fact that more than eight hundred copies of the ‘Erl King’ had already been sold!
Of his improvidence there is much that could be told; his inherent good nature was never proof against imposition, and he gave away as freely as he earned. Moreover, he was regarded by a certain set of his friends as a Crœsus, or, rather, as a never-failing coiner of money, and two of these so-called friends were not ashamed to live openly upon his easy-going, careless ways, under the pretence of sharing the expenses of a joint lodging. The partnership, if such it could be called where one was called upon to find the money, extended even to articles of clothing—boots, hats, coats, cravats, etc., being regarded as common property—whilst if one of the trio found himself unable to pay his reckoning, it fell to the lot of the ‘man of wealth’ to discharge his obligation. Needless to say, this friendly office was cheerfully filled by Schubert for either or both of his companions. Great was the jubilation when the composer brought back the news that he had sold a piece of music. For the time being he was regarded by the others as literally swimming in money, and expected to spend right and left so long as it lasted, and then they would all go short until the next piece of luck came along. One day, when the trio were in very low water, Schubert and one of the others met at a small coffee-house and surprised each other in the act of ordering coffee and biscuits, because neither could summon from his pockets the requisite amount—namely, eightpence halfpenny—wherewith to pay for a dinner!
But no amount of distress could check his capacity for work. Save during the hours of sleep, his pen would seem never to have been idle; even whilst talking to a friend who was waiting to take him for a walk, he was jotting down at great speed one of his most beautiful dramatic ballads, the ‘Zwerg.’ Another friend, Carl Umlauff, has related how he used to go to Schubert’s lodgings in the mornings, and find him lying in bed jotting down musical ideas; at other times he would be out of bed, clad in his dressing-gown, composing at his standing-desk. Writing would go on till two o’clock. ‘When I have done one piece I begin the next,’ was his own way of describing the continuity of his work, and it is known that a single morning produced no fewer than six songs. The afternoon would be devoted to music-making at the house of a friend, or to a walk in the suburbs, whilst the evening would be divided between a pipe at the Gasthaus with his companions, and a visit to the theatre or the house of a musical friend. The hours reserved for sleep were constantly being curtailed by the encroachments of nightly pleasures, and yet he was always ready to seize his pen and begin work directly he was awake. The story even goes that he slept in his spectacles in order to save the trouble and time of putting them on in the morning!
His omnivorous appetite for setting to music every poem which struck his fancy—whether it were suited for the purpose of a song, or, what is far more important, in any way worthy of the setting which he proposed to give to it—was one of Schubert’s most marked characteristics. Another was the rapidity with which, having once grasped the sense of the words, he translated them into music, and such music, let it be remembered, as was destined in many cases to live for ever. Like the ‘Erl King,’ the beautiful song the ‘Wanderer’ was composed in the space of a few hours; again, with respect to the strikingly beautiful collection of songs known as the ‘Schöne Müllerin,’ the poems were lighted upon quite by accident. Schubert was visiting a friend, and when the latter was called away he picked up a volume of Müller’s poems which was lying upon the table; he grew interested in them, the friend delayed his return, and finally Schubert put the book in his pocket and went home. The next morning, when the friend called to apologise for his detention and to inquire for the missing volume, he found that Schubert had already set several of the poems to music. What Schumann the composer wrote of Schubert was true: ‘Everything that he touched he turned into music.’ One day in the month of July, 1826, he was returning with his friends from a Sunday walk through the village of Währing, and, passing by a beer-garden, he espied an acquaintance seated at one of the tables. On joining him Schubert found he was reading a volume of Shakespeare; he seized the book, and began turning over the pages, and then, drawing his friends’ attention to the line, ‘Hark, hark, the lark,’ he exclaimed: ‘Such a lovely melody has come into my head, if I had but some music-paper!’ One of his companions seized a bill-of-fare, and on the back of it scribbled a few staves, and then, upon the spot, ‘amid the hubbub of the beer-garden, that beautiful song, so perfectly fitting the words, so skilful and so happy in its accompaniment, came into perfect existence.’ Later on in the evening of the same day he added to this creation two more songs from Shakespeare—the drinking-song from ‘Antony and Cleopatra,’ and the well-known ‘Who is Sylvia?’ In the instances just given Schubert’s choice could not have been more happily made; but this does not render it less difficult for us to understand why in so many cases he should have elected to immortalise by his music poems devoid of merit both in feeling and expression.
We have seen something of Schubert’s veneration for Beethoven as a grand personality, even before the latter’s music had begun to take hold of him. At first there is no doubt that the music of Mozart had the greatest fascination for him; there is evidence of this in Schubert’s early instrumental works, and in the following passage from his diary, penned after he had heard one of Mozart’s quintets played in 1816: ‘Gently, as if out of the distance, did the magic tones of Mozart’s music strike my ears. With what inconceivable, alternate force and tenderness did Schlesinger’s masterly playing impress it deep, deep into my heart! Such lovely impressions remain on the soul, there to work for good, past all power of time or circumstance. In the darkness of this life they reveal a clear, bright, beautiful prospect, inspiring confidence and hope. O Mozart, immortal Mozart! what countless consolatory images of a bright better world hast thou stamped on our souls,’ Beethoven was a great personality then, but as time went on the influence of his music grew ever stronger. So far, however, Schubert had been content to worship his hero at a distance, for which purpose he would haunt the restaurant at which Beethoven usually dined. But in 1822 he published a set of Variations on a French Air, which he dedicated to Beethoven ‘as his admirer and worshipper,’ and his longing to present these in person to the composer was so great as to overcome his natural timidity. Accordingly, accompanied by the publisher, Diabelli, he called at Beethoven’s house; they found the composer at home, and a courteous but somewhat formal welcome was accorded them. This in itself was bad enough for poor Schubert, whose courage straightway forsook him; but when Beethoven proceeded to hand to him the bundle of paper and the carpenter’s pencil which, owing to his deafness, he kept in readiness for his visitors, Schubert’s shyness prevented him writing a single word. The production of the Variations afforded a welcome relief to his confusion, and as Beethoven was in an uncommonly good humour the dedication pleased him very much. The effect of the diversion, however, was only momentary, for Beethoven, looking through the composition, lighted upon something to which he took exception, and forthwith proceeded to point it out to his visitor. This was the last straw, and Schubert, losing his presence of mind altogether, fled from the room. On reaching the street his courage returned, and too late he thought of all that he might have said. Let us complete the anecdote by relating that Schubert derived some consolation from the knowledge that Beethoven not only retained the Variations, but was very pleased with them, and often played them over with his nephew.
It was not until five years after this event that Beethoven realised how great a singer had been uttering his sweet notes within the span of the city in which he lived, and then the master lay upon his death-bed. Into his hands had been placed a collection of Schubert’s songs, some sixty in all, and as he turned them over his attention was arrested by their beauty, and he uttered frequent expressions of surprise and delight. But even greater was his astonishment when he learned that there were more than five hundred of such songs extant. ‘How can he have found time,’ he asked, ‘for the setting of such long poems, many of them containing ten others?’ (by which he meant to convey that they were as long as ten ordinary poems). For several days the collection occupied his attention. ‘Ah, if I had had this poem I would have set it myself!’ he would exclaim. ‘Truly, Schubert has the Divine fire in him!’ He made frequent references to Schubert, expressing his regret that he had not sooner known him for the composer he was, and prophesying a great future for him in the world of music. Schubert himself longed to pay his respects to the master he revered so highly, and one day, in company with his friends Anselm Hüttenbrenner and Schindler (both of whom were well known to Beethoven), he presented himself at the door of the sick man’s chamber. Schindler informed Beethoven of their arrival, and asked who he would like to see first. ‘Schubert may come in first,’ was the reply. Before they left, Beethoven, regarding them with a smile, said: ‘You, Anselm, have my mind, but Franz has my soul.’ When for the second time Schubert found his way to the bedside of the master death was very near, and though as they stood around the bed he made signs to them with his hand to show that he recognised their presence, he could not speak, and, overcome with emotion, Schubert quitted the room.
A little more than three weeks after the second visit Schubert was walking as one of the torch-bearers beside the coffin of his loved master, as the latter was borne to his last resting-place in the Währinger cemetery. On the way back Schubert and his friends passed through the Himmelpfortgrund, close to the old home, and, entering a tavern, called for wine. Schubert, having filled his glass, raised it aloft: ‘I drink,’ said he, ‘to the memory of Beethoven.’ Then once more filling the glass, he drained it to the first of the three friends then present, who was destined to follow the master to his grave.
Little did Schubert dream that he was emptying his glass to his own memory! Nor in the eyes of his friends would there seem to have been anything in his appearance at that moment which could be taken as foreshadowing the early closing of that eager, active life. Gazing at him then, as he sat drinking his grim toast, the picture presented to his companions was that of a short, stout, thick-set man of about thirty, with a head of thick, black hair, disposed in crisp curls, bushy eyebrows, and a pair of bright black eyes which beamed through his spectacles. The face was round with full cheeks, the complexion pasty, the nose short and insignificant, the lips full and protruding, the jaw broad and strong; the hands, like the rest of the body, were plump, and the fingers thick and short. There was nothing striking about his general expression; but when the conversation turned upon music, and especially if Beethoven were the topic of discussion, his eyes would brighten at once, and the whole face light up with animation.
As he sat in the dingy parlour of the little tavern, beaming upon his friends, whilst the minds of all three were rapt by the solemn event which they had just witnessed, the proximity of death within that circle was not contemplated. Yet the story of his life shows us that the period which had elapsed between the date of his presenting his Variations to Beethoven and that of his first visit to the composer on his death-bed had been full of anxieties and bitter disappointments; and there is no doubt that the continuous struggle for existence, coupled with the strain of unceasing work, had only too surely undermined a constitution which could never have been robust.
One of Schubert’s greatest longings was to write for the stage. The longing was evident almost at the first, and it grew with his strength and the consciousness of his powers as a composer. As the finger of fame beckoned him forward it had directed his steps to the theatre as the goal of his aspirations, and it was upon the attainment of this object that he lavished all the later powers of his genius—only, alas! to reap the bitter fruit of disappointment. One after another of his operas was rejected, even, as in the case of ‘Fierabras,’ when at the very point of production—the reasons assigned in each case being either the unsuitableness of the libretto or the difficulties presented by the music, and the door which he hoped to enter was closed against him during his lifetime. The score of ‘Fierabras’ comprised no fewer than one thousand pages, and the mournful state into which he was thrown by its rejection may be gathered by an extract from a letter penned just after the fate of the opera had been sealed. He refers to himself as ‘the most unfortunate, most miserable being on earth,’ and proceeds: ‘Think of a man whose health can never be restored, and who from sheer despair makes matters worse instead of better. Think, I say, of a man whose brightest hopes have come to nothing, to whom love and friendship are but torture, and whose enthusiasm for the beautiful is fast vanishing, and ask yourself if such a man is not truly unhappy.
‘My peace is gone, my heart is sore,
Gone for ever and evermore.
This is my daily cry; for every night I go to sleep hoping never again to wake, and every morning only brings back the torment of the day before…. I have composed two operas for nothing.’
Thus sadly he wrote in the hour of bitterness, but happily for Schubert, and still more fortunately for us, there were brighter days yet in store for him, and the enthusiasm for the beautiful, which he speaks of as ‘fast vanishing,’ returned in all its accustomed force. No disappointment, however great, seemed to have the power to check the flow of production—that is the one great point which we notice about Schubert’s life; we find him at one moment despairing, but at the next his troubles appear to be forgotten, and he is immersed in the writing of another song, another symphony, or another sonata, as the case may be; but it is always work, work in the face of every obstacle that fortune can throw in his way. ‘His life is all summed up in his music.’ ‘Music and music alone was to him all in all. It was not his principal mode of expression, it was his only one; it swallowed up every other. His afternoon walks, his evening amusements, were all so many preparations for the creations of the following morning.’ And so it continued until the end. The very last year of his busy life, far from exhibiting any diminution of his powers, is marked by the production of some of his very finest works.
It was not until the end of October, 1828, that the signs of serious illness made themselves apparent in attacks of giddiness, accompanied by a marked loss of strength. Schubert was at this time living with his brother Ferdinand at the latter’s house in the Neue Wieden suburb—the house is now known as No. 6, Kettenbrücken Gasse—having removed thither on the advice of his doctor for the sake of the fresh air and the adjacent country. Although he rallied somewhat during the first week of November, and was able to resume his walks and discuss his plans for the future, the weakness increased, and on the 11th he wrote to his friend Schober what was destined to be his last letter:
‘I am ill. I have eaten and drunk nothing for eleven days, and I am so tired and shaky that I can only get from the bed to the chair, and back. Rinna is attending me…. In this distressing condition be so kind as to help me to some reading. Of Cooper’s I have read the “Last of the Mohicans,” the “Spy,” the “Pilot,” and the “Pioneers.” If you have anything else of his I entreat you to leave it with Frau von Bogner at the Coffee-house. My brother, who is conscientiousness itself, will bring it to me in the most conscientious way. Or anything else. Your friend,
On the 14th he took to his bed, but for two days more he was able to sit up and correct the proofs of some of the songs in the ‘Winterreise.’ He grew rapidly weaker, however, and by the 17th he was quite delirious. On the evening of the next day he called Ferdinand to his side, and, bidding him put his ear close to his mouth, he whispered: ‘Brother, what are they doing with me?’ ‘Dear Franz,’ was the reply, ‘they are doing all they can to get you well again, and the doctor assures us you will soon be all right, only you must do your best to stay in bed.’ For a space the sick man lay quiet, then, as the delirium increased, his mind reverted to the same idea: ‘I implore you to put me in my own room, and not to leave me in this corner under the earth. Don’t I deserve a place above ground?’ ‘Dear Franz,’ cried his brother, ‘be calm—trust your brother Ferdinand, whom you have always trusted, and who loves you so dearly. You are in the room which you always had, and lying on your own bed.’ ‘Ah, no,’ replied the dying composer, ‘that cannot be true, for Beethoven is not here!’ Thus in his last moments his poor, wandering mind was dwelling upon the master whom he reverenced; to be near him, even in death, was the last wish, the last hope to which he clung!
When, later on, the doctor came, he tried to reassure the sufferer with hopes of recovery; but Schubert gazed at him with earnestness without speaking, and then, turning himself away, he beat the wall with his hands, saying in slow, earnest tone: ‘Here, here is my end,’ At three o’clock in the afternoon of the following day, November 19, 1828, he breathed his last. Thus passed away, in comparative youth, a composer of whom it has been written: ‘There never has been one like him, and there never will be another.’
The funeral took place on November 21, and a large number of friends gathered to pay their last respects to the dead composer as he lay in his coffin, dressed in accordance with the prevailing custom, like a hermit, with a crown of laurel about his brows. The poor old father, still drudging as schoolmaster in the Rossau district, where he had been labouring ever since he had left the old home in the Himmelpfortgrund, would have buried his dear son in the cemetery near at hand; but Ferdinand told him of Franz’s last wish, and, like the noble brother that he was, gave a sum out of his own scanty earnings in order to defray the extra cost of removing the body to the Währinger burial-place. Thither, accordingly, it was taken, and committed to the ground in a grave close to that occupied by the master he loved so well. The monument which was erected over the grave in the following year, by the efforts of his friends and admirers, bears the following inscription:
MUSIC HAS HERE ENTOMBED A RICH TREASURE,
BUT MUCH FAIRER HOPES.
FRANZ SCHUBERT LIES HERE.
BORN JAN. 31, 1797;
DIED NOV. 19, 1828,
31 YEARS OLD.
SCHUBERT’S PRINCIPAL COMPOSITIONS
Operas and Dramatic Works:
Des Teufels Lustschloss. Comp. 1813-1814, pub. 1888.
Die Zwillingsbrüder. Comp. 1818-1819, pub. 1872.
Alfonso und Estrella. Op. 69. Comp. 1821-1822, pub. 1827.
Die Verschworenen, oder Der Häusliche Krieg. Comp. 1823, pub. 1862.
Fierabras. Op. 76. Comp. 1823, pub. 1827.
Rosamunde (Overture and Incidental Music). Op. 26. Comp. 1823, pub. 1824.
No. 1, in F, Comp. 1814, pub. 1856.
No. 2, in G, Comp. 1815, pub. 1846.
No. 3, in B♭, Op. 141. Comp. 1815, pub. 1838.
No. 4, in C, Op. 48. Comp. 1818, pub. 1826.
No. 5, in E♭, Comp. 1828, pub. 1865.
No. 6, in A♭, Comp. 1819-1822, pub. 1876.
Deutsche Messe in F. Comp. 1826, pub. 1870.
Lazarus (cantata—unfinished). Comp. 1820, pub. 1866.
Psalm XXIII., for female voices, Op. 132. Comp. 1820, pub. 1831.
The Song of Miriam, Op. 136. Comp. 1828, pub. 1838.
No. 1, in D, Comp. 1813.
No. 2, in B♭, Comp. 1814-1815.
No. 3, in D, Comp. 1815.
No. 4, in C minor, The Tragic. Comp. 1816, pub. 1870.
No. 5, in B♭, Comp. 1816, pub. 1870.
No. 6, in C, Comp. 1818.
No. 8, in B minor, The Unfinished. Comp. 1822, pub. 1867.
No. 9, in C, Comp. 1828, pub. 1840.
Overture in the Italian Style in D. Comp. 1817, pub. 1872.
Overture in the Italian Style in C, Op. 170. Comp. 1817, pub. 1872.Octet for strings and wind in F, Op. 166. Comp. 1824, pub. 1854.
Quintet for strings in C, Op. 163. Comp. 1828, pub. 1854.
Quintet for pianoforte and strings in A, Op. 114. Comp. 1819, pub. 1829.
8 Quartets for strings:
In D. Comp. 1814, pub. 1871.
In B♭, Op. 168. Comp. 1814, pub. 1865.
In G minor, Comp. 1815, pub. 1871.
In E♭, Op. 125, No. 1. Comp. 1824, pub. 1830.
In E, Op. 125, No. 2. Comp. 1824, pub. 1830.
In A minor, Op. 29. Comp. 1824, pub. 1825.
In D minor, Comp. 1826, pub. 1831.
In G, Op. 161. Comp. 1826, pub. 1852.
2 Trios for pianoforte and strings:
Op. 99, in B♭, Comp. 1827, pub. 1828.
Op. 100, in E♭, Comp. 1827, pub. 1828.
4 Sonatas. For pianoforte and violin.
Fantasia in C, Op. 159. Comp. 1827.
Rondeau Brilliant in B minor, Op. 70. Comp. 1826.
2 Sonatas (in C minor and B♭), Comp. 1814 and 1824. For pianoforte duet.
Fantasia in F minor, Op. 103
Marche Héroïque in A minor, Op. 66. Comp. 1826.
Marche Funèbre in C minor, Op. 55. Comp. 1825.
Variations on a French Air in E minor, Op. 10. Comp. 1821, pub. 1822.
Grand Duo in C, Op. 140. Comp. 1824.
Overture in F, Op. 34. Comp. 1824.
10 Sonatas for pianoforte solo.
Fantasia in C, Op. 15. Comp. 1820. For pianoforte solo.
Fantasia Sonata in G, Op. 78. Comp. 1826.
4 Impromptus, Op. 90. Comp. 1828.
4 Impromptus, Op. 142. Comp. 1827.
6 Moments Musicals, Op. 94.
2 sets of Variations.
44 Part Songs for male voices.
6 Part Songs for female voices.
21 Part Songs for mixed voices.
457 Songs have been published. We may mention:
Die Schöne Müllerin (20 songs), Op. 25. Comp. 1823.
Die Winterreise (24 songs), Op. 89. Comp. 1827.
Der Schwanengesang (14 songs). Comp. 1828.
And the following single Songs:
An Sylvia, Op. 106, No. 4. Comp. 1826.
Ave Maria (Scott’s words), Op. 52, No. 6. Comp. 1825
Der Tod und das Mädchen, Op. 7, No. 3.
Der Wanderer, Op. 4, No. 1. Comp. 1816.
Der Zwerg, Op. 22, No. 1. Comp. 1823.
Die Forelle, Op. 32. Comp. 1818.
Geheimes, Op. 14, No. 2. Comp. 1821.
Gretchen am Spinnrade, Op. 2. Comp. 1814.
Ständchen (Hark, hark! the Lark!). Comp. 1826.
Erlkönig, Op. 1. Comp. 1815.
Leave a Reply