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by Martin Ederer
           good many years ago, I got a
      Agig playing in a concert featur-
      ing the music – especially Lieder –
      of Franz Schubert. It was appropri-
      ately billed as a Schubertiad. I also
      invited a non-ethnic-German friend
      along to the concert. Her comment
      after  the  concert  was  telling:  “I
      didn’t  think  anything  in  German
      could  be  that  romantic.”  My  re-
      sponse was “Welcome to Vienna.”
         So  who  was  Franz  Schubert?
      The short answer: Schubert was an
      impoverished but talented composer
      and  musical  genius  who  always  Schubert  c. 1814,  painted  by  Jo-
      managed to be (and feel) overshad-  sef Abel.
      owed  by  others.  Born  1797  and
      raised on the outskirts of Vienna, he typhoid  fever,  although  persistent
      was the twelfth child in a family of stories  claim  syphilis  and/or  the
      14. Nine of his siblings died in in- mercury   treatments   prescribed
      fancy.                         (yikes!) to manage the syphilis.
         Schubert’s  father  was  his  first  The story might well have ended
      music teacher, until Antonio Salieri there.  Schubert  died  prematurely,
      discovered  Schubert’s  talent.  Still, still  largely  undiscovered  –  and
      much of Schubert’s music education broke. His life’s work was a random
      was haphazard – as was his subse- pile  of  manuscripts  and  musical
      quent life. For a time he trained to sketches,  some  completed,  some
      be  a  teacher,  following  in  his  fa- not.
      ther’s  profession.  But  much  of  his  Thanks to a chance discovery of
      life was a story of never getting his one of Schubert’s symphony manu-
      big break, being broke, binge-com- scripts  by  Robert  Schumann  when
      posing, binge-drinking, lady friends he  visited  Vienna  in  1838,  Schu-
      but  unrequited  love,  and  the  good bert’s  talent  escaped  obscurity.
      fortune  to  have  loyal  friends  who Schumann  brought  the  manuscript
      were happy to let him sleep in their to  Leipzig,  where  Felix  Men-
      apartments.                    delssohn, the director of the Leipzig
         In  that  chaotic  life,  Schubert Gewandhausorchester,  agreed  to
      composed: symphonies, sacred mu- perform it.
      sic,  chamber  music,  piano  sonatas  A star was (posthumously) born,
      and  impromptus,  and  his  Lieder  – and the search was on for more of
      especially well-known for their be- the  neglected,  misplaced  and  lost
      ing composed throughout, not sim- Schubert works: The English music
      ply  in  repetitions  of  identical historian  George  Grove  and  the
      musical stanzas, which was (and is equally English Arthur Sullivan (of
      still) the norm for many songs. All Gilbert  and  Sullivan  fame)  uncov-
      told Schubert composed some 600 ered  more  of  Schubert’s  works  in
      works.                         1867. By 1894 the noted music pub-
         A much younger contemporary lisher  Breitkopf  and  Härtels  had
      of  Beethoven,  Schubert  lived  in published a completed critical edi-
      mortal  fear  of  the  great  man,  al- tion  of  Schubert’s  works.  This  in-
      though   indications   were   that cluded  editing  contributions  by
      Beethoven  was  indeed  impressed Johannes Brahms.
      with Schubert’s talent – the little he  Besides   Schumann,   Men-
      knew about it.                 delssohn  and  Brahms,  numerous        Published by
         Then Schubert finally did get his other major composers came to ac-  Buffalo Standard Printing
      break.  In  March  1828,  he  finally knowledge Schubert’s genius and to  3620 Harlem Rd.
      gave a well-received concert of his draw  inspiration  from  his  works.  Cheektowaga, NY 14215
      own  works,  only  to  be  overshad- These  included  heavy-hitters  such  716-831-8013
      owed by the young new sensation in as Antonin Dvořák, Anton Bruck-  mail@thegermancitizen.com
      town, the violinist Niccolò Pagani- ner,  Hector  Berlioz  and  Gustav
                                                                        For Advertising Sales call:
      ni.  In  November  1828,  Schubert Mahler.  Schubert  had  finally  been
                                                                           Michelle Kisluk or
      died at the ripe old age of 31 – and discovered and finally received the
                                                                            Steve Kroczynski
      only  about  a  year  after  the  much recognition  he  had  deserved  –  but
      older Beethoven had died. The offi- only well after his very short life.
      cial  cause  of  death  was  listed  as







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                                                     This is a pencil-on-paper carica-
                                                     ture  of  singer  Johann  Michael
                                                     Vogl  (left)  and  composer  Franz
                                                     Schubert (right). The caption (in
                                                     German)  reads:  Michael  Vogl
                                                     and  Franz  Schubert  go  out  for
                                                     battle and victory.
                                                     The  drawing  is    by  Franz  von
                                                     Schober (1825) and the original is
                                                     in  the  Historic  Museum  of  the
                                                     City of Vienna.
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