Coming up this week are two programs featuring pieces by Franz Schubert. Although this composer died at age 31, he left behind a vast amount of work. In this week’s composer spotlight, find out more about the life of Schubert.
Franz Schubert (full name Franz Peter Schubert) was born 1797 in Himmelpfortgrund, Austria, to a schoolmaster and a domestic servant. Schubert originally learned music under his father and later continued by playing organ and learning music theory under a church organist. In 1814, he became an assistant in his father’s school and continued as a schoolmaster until 1818.
Schubert composed over 140 songs from 1814-1815. His music set to te poen “Gretchen am Spinnrade” created the German lied, or art song. In 1818, Schubert left Vienna to become music master to the two daughters of Count Esterházy in Hungary. During this time, he composed piano duets, sets of songs, dances, and the Detusche Trauermesse.
The first widely known compositions of Schubert’s, Piano Sonata in A Minor, D. 664 and Trout Quintet, were created in the Austrian countryside after his return from Hungary. What truly launched him into wide renown were Die Zwillingsbrüder and Die Zauberharfe, both performed in 1820. Schubert became so popular in Vienna that concert parties called Schubertiaden were devoted solely to his songs and dance music.
Later in the 1820s, Schubert went through a period plagued by illness, dejection, and rejection. During this time, his work was rejected by the directorate of the prestigious Kärntnertor Theatre in Vienna, and he was nearly penniless. He returned to his post with the Esterházys in 1824 and was put in better health and a better mood, composing multiple piano duets.
The last year of his life was marked by several masterpieces. Some of these include Fantasy in F Minor, The Great Symphony, and String Quartet in C Major. Schubert’s only public concert took place in 1826, and it was so successful that he was finally able to buy himself a piano. At the end of the year he moved in with his brother and died of typhoid fever.
Schubert today is best known as a composer who bridged classical and romantic music.
Works by Schubert will be performed by Sae Yoon Chon and Max Levinson at the Rockport Chamber Music Festival. Chon will perform Müllerlieder, S.565 and Schwanengesang, D. 957 July 3 at 2 p.m. Levinson will perform Fantasie in F Minor for Piano, Four-Hands, D. 940 July 7 at 5 p.m.