My Biography: SCHUBERT


‘Anyone who knew Schubert knows how he was made up of two natures, foreign to each other, and how powerfully the craving for pleasure dragged him down to the cesspool of slime.’

Josef Kenner’s reminiscences of Schubert, 1858

‘Close to such crushing genius as Beethoven’s, Schubert does not feel the need to deny its greatness in order somehow to endure.  What self-confidence, what truly aristocratic awareness of one’s own rank, which respects the equal in the other!’

Arnold Schoenberg, centenary notes for Schubert’s birth

Schubert was born on 31 January 1797, the suburban Viennese son of a family of schoolteachers.  He would die as he had lived: yet another composer struggling to be more than an amateur, whose music was outsold many times over by Hummel’s.  As a creative force he left as many successors as Mozart did – which is to say, none.  Rachmaninov, questioned in the early years of our century, did not know of a single piano sonata by Schubert.  Fifty years before, sheer tact had salvaged the neglected manuscript of the Unfinished Symphony from oblivion.  By that time its composer had been in the Währing Cemetery for decades.

Like some magical and insidious alchemy, Schubert exists outside the tradition he inherited.  His influence has worked subtly on generations of composers, each of whom has stumbled on the modernity of what he has to say: seeping into our consciousness not only of music’s potential but of our human predicament.    For Schubert has done as much as any artist to crystallise our sense of self, and he explored with prophetic intensity a fusion of poetry and the heightened capabilities of a singing voice that was to release the later the nineteenth’s century’s artistic interrogation of the limits of experience: of what it might be possible for us ever to say, or to know.Schubert was born on 31 January 1797, the suburban Viennese son of a family of schoolteachers.  He would die as he had lived: yet another composer struggling to be more than an amateur, whose music was outsold many times over by Hummel’s.  As a creative force he left as many successors as Mozart did – which is to say, none.  Rachmaninov, questioned in the early years of our century, did not know of a single piano sonata by Schubert.  Fifty years before, sheer tact had salvaged the neglected manuscript of the Unfinished Symphony from oblivion.  By that time its composer had been in the Währing Cemetery for decades.

You never seem to hear Schubert’s music in a television advertisement.  His is not a creative language which lends itself to soundbites and domesticated lifestyles.  It fosters little of his predecessors’ overweening urge to explain themselves, the regulated good sense of the Enlightenment.  It lacks the need to preach, it carries no burden of oratory.   From the majestic clockwork of high classicism we have received (as Schubert did) a vocabulary of known formalities and unambiguous manoeuvres which we can recognize at a glance, which we can assimilate into a background where emotion is as safe as the wallpaper.  Tackle Schubert, and things are no longer so certain.  In his world, surface formalities – however elegant or lucid they may appear – serve as an entry-point for an act of deeper and private scrutiny, where what a composer thinks he knows is there to be subverted or expanded into a luminous perspective where meanings themselves are freshly crafted within an ever-changing context.

It is a cipher which each listener must find and make sense of for himself: and it offers apt introspection for an age weary of dogmatic statements.  We find ourselves in an era as much preoccupied as the early 19th century was with the spread of sexual disease and the violation of innocence; a pre-millennial circumspection, it seems, for which Schubert’s triumph over his fate and his own meagre life seems increasingly to the point.  Understood in its true light, his music comes as a revelation which stands beyond cultural history and which throws down an emotional challenge which is as new and as personal for us as it was for Brahms, Schumann, Bruckner, Mahler, Dvorak, Stravinsky, Britten, Wolf.  It is music propelled by ardent intensity, by an appetite and melancholy and lacerating nostalgia, which come wholly from within.

Strange it is that Schubert, least gregariously jovial of the great Viennese composers, was the only one to be born there.  It is a place he made in his own image, because the portrait we have of it comes from the traditional minuets, waltzes and Ländler which he took and changed into something new.  This is the mirage Schumann fell for when he described the Ninth Symphony:

Schubert’s symphony, with the clear romantic spirit that quickens it, brings the city more vividly before my eyes today than ever before, and makes me understand once again how it is that such works come to be born in surroundings such as these…with its St Stephen’s spire, its lovely women, its public pageantry, encircled by the countless hoops of the Danube and stretching across the verdant plain which climbs gently towards higher and still higher mountains…

For a more accurate appraisal we must turn to Johann Pezzl’s  ‘Sketch of Vienna’, which covered the years from 1786-90.  Everything interested him: the overwhelming stink of unwashed crowds, the glee with which good people flocked to watch bears being baited and criminals branded before they were broken, shrieking, upon a wheel: streets filled with mistresses and those ‘of easy virtue’.  As for the lovely ladies, foreign visitors noted that countesses behaved like courtesans and courtesans like countesses; the cheap and innumerable dance-halls were thinly-disguised brothels.  Politically the situation worsened in Schubert’s lifetime, as the reforms of Joseph II were swept away by Prince Metternich’s autocracy.  In 1820, with student societies banned, the composer found himself arrested at what one can only call the wrong sort of party.  He was released as harmless – a luckier fate than befell those who were banished for life on that occasion.  The public was fickle towards the arts, responsive only to sentimental fads and virtuosity of the most meretricious kind. It was something Mozart had discovered to his recent and bitter cost.

Yet Schubert was a lucky man.   He was born at a remarkable time for lyric verse, and unlike Mozart or Haydn or Beethoven – all of whom had  been unable to transcend the limitations of conventionally ornate song-writing – he was profoundly attuned to what was happening.   He could root out a talent for poetry not only within his circle of friends, but from the remotest fringes of the German-speaking world.  He discovered the early Romantics (Heine, Rückert, Platen, Uhland) and immortalised them: he followed Goethe along new paths into passion instead of rhetoric, feeling instead of either reason or bathos: he championed the world-view that led beyond music to Goya and Turner.

The origins of a tradition which comes to opulent Romantic flower in Strauss’s ‘Four Last Songs’ lie in the cheap musical browsings of Schubert’s childhood.  There he found Zumsteeg, the South German composer who in 1791 had set Ossian and revealed for the first time the potential of song as a vehicle for dramatic and psychological revelation.  Two North Germans composing around 1800, Reichardt and Zelter, explored in their own Lieder a new freedom of form, an expressive richness of mood.  All this was anathema to the sophisticated Viennese, who trounced it into obscurity.  But Schubert knew of it, and it created the live wire to which he could bring his own peculiar and incandescent charge.  Rather seldom does the history of the arts have much to do with a torch being passed from one illustrious bearer to another.  It lies in the tiny quirks and accidents which one individual can grasp and make into something  more.



Franz Peter was the twelfth child of Franz Theodor Schubert, who had moved to Vienna from Neudorf in Moravia.  In 1786 Franz père was appointed master to the Trivial School No 12 Himmelpfortgrund, eighteen months after he had married Maria Elizabeth Vietz, the daughter of a Silesian locksmith.  She too had come to the city to seek her fortune, and was working as a cook: a gentle woman, it was said, loved and respected by everyone.  Young Franz was born in the Liechtental district, on the fringe of the countryside, where poverty gave a family little chance of a quick rise in the scheme of things.  It was an affectionate family even so, and Schubert got on well with his father, despite the older man’s strictness.  But his special intimacy was with Maria, from whom he inherited his quiet reflective manner, his imagination, and his easy-going ways.  She died in 1812.

The western world, at Franz Peter’s birth, might have seemed on the brink of a new era in political turbulence and social opportunity.  Seventeen days earlier, French troops had beaten the Austrians at Aricole and Rivoli.   The American War of Independence was barely over, and in 1805 Napoleon marched through Vienna: a little Corsican upstart who had robbed the Habsburgs of most of their empire.  In this changing order, a teacher was no longer the ignorant, despised Baculus of the eighteenth century.  He moved in higher circles and entered into the intellectual activities of the middle-class, whilst preserving a level of patriotism unknown to the garrulous nouveaux riches.  His prospects for promotion were in no sense harmed by religious awe – by devotion, as was the case in the Schubert household.   For this was an empire that moved at the speed of a cantering horse, and in 1797 the shadow of Napoleon was still far away.  In life’s daily rhythms, an old Imperial order reigned supreme.Franz Peter was the twelfth child of Franz Theodor Schubert, who had moved to Vienna from Neudorf in Moravia.  In 1786 Franz père was appointed master to the Trivial School No 12 Himmelpfortgrund, eighteen months after he had married Maria Elizabeth Vietz, the daughter of a Silesian locksmith.  She too had come to the city to seek her fortune, and was working as a cook: a gentle woman, it was said, loved and respected by everyone.  Young Franz was born in the Liechtental district, on the fringe of the countryside, where poverty gave a family little chance of a quick rise in the scheme of things.  It was an affectionate family even so, and Schubert got on well with his father, despite the older man’s strictness.  But his special intimacy was with Maria, from whom he inherited his quiet reflective manner, his imagination, and his easy-going ways.  She died in 1812.

Vienna stood as the city of Gluck, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn.  It was the melting-pot of European races and culture in the prime of its greatest epoch.  A schoolmaster was expected in to be competent in music, and the Schuberts’ house echoed with it.   Franz had lessons in piano from his father, and his first taste of the violin from his older brother Ignaz.  That he outstripped them both was plain, but Schubert wrote his first music for the family quartet.  When his father’s hands fumbled on the cello Franz would smile and venture, ‘Sir, there must be a mistake somewhere!’

In his eighth year he was sent for lessons in singing and counterpoint with Michael Holzer, the local organist whose choir Schubert joined.  Towards the end of his life Franz Senior remembered that Hozler had confessed to doing little more than while away time: ‘If I wanted to teach him something new – he had already mastered it.  Often I stared in silent astonishment.  I could not give him any real instruction, only talk with the lad and quietly admire him.’  His reward was the dedication of Schubert’s C major Mass in 1816.

Under Holzer’s care both Schubert’s violin-playing earned him a local reputation, and in 1808 he was well-placed to take advantage of an advertisement in the Vienna Gazette:

At the end of the present school year a place for soprano will become available at the Imperial College.  Whoever wishes to obtain this place for his son has to satisfy the Directorate of the said College, where an examination is to be held on 1 October, that the candidate is fit to enter the first Latin class, has a good voice, and has been well-trained in singing.

Schubert’s audition was held before Antonio Salieri, a friend of Beethoven, mentor to Haydn, Mozart’s rival, now Kapellmeister to the Emperor.  A week later his acceptance was announced.

The college was the principal Viennese boarding school for commoners.  It was a place of iron rations and, in the winter, bitter cold.  In an affectionate letter to his brothers Franz had to bring himself to write,

You’ll know from your own experience that there are times when one could certainly do with a roll and a few apples, particularly when one has to wait eight and a half hours between a moderate-sized midday meal and a wretched sort of supper.  This constant longing has become more and more insistent, and the time has come when I must do something about it.  The few Grotschen that Father gave me vanished into thin air in the first few days, so what am I going to do for the rest of the time?  They who hope upon Thee shall not be put to shame.  St Matthew, Chap 3, v, 4.  How would it be, then, if you were to let me have a few Kreuzer each month?  You wouldn’t notice them, and they would make me happy and contented in my cell.

The tutors were men in holy orders and their boarders, about a hundred and thirty of them, either scholars at the grammar school or students at the university.  Music was a compulsory subject for choristers, but the principal, Dr Innocenz Lang, was an enthusiastic musical amateur and he encouraged all scholars to practise the art.  Schubert played quartets regularly, and his latest songs were celebrated by the school as enthusiastically as any sporting achievement.  Yet his tastes and talents set him apart, for as the surgeon Georg Eckel later recalled:

Schubert’s life was one of inner, spiritual thinking, and was seldom expressed in words but I would say, almost entirely in music.  Even with his intimates he was shy and uncommunicative…Schubert almost always spent the leisure hours we were allowed in the music room, and generally alone.  Even on the walks which pupils took together he mostly kept apart, walking thoughtfully along with lowered eyes and with hands behind his back, drumming with his fingers (as if on keys), completely absorbed in his own thought.

A young university student, Josef von Spaun, had formed a students’ orchestra which was conducted by Vaclav Ruzicka, a peripatetic master.  By the time of Schubert’s arrival, its excellence was sufficient to tackle Beethoven’s first two symphonies, which were then the last word in difficulty and daring.  Schubert joined the violins and Spaun, impressed by his rhythm and wholehearted surrender to the music, took Franz under his wing.  Their friendship lasted for the rest of Schubert’s life.  One of Spaun’s first acts, when Franz confessed that he could not afford music paper, was to provide him with all he needed.

When after two years’ absence Spaun returned, he discovered Schubert conducting the orchestra in the absence of Ruzicka, who had found himself nonplussed by the rate at which his disciple had absorbed all instruction.  Their arrangement had the blessing of Salieri, whom Schubert visited twice a week for lessons in harmony and counterpoint.  Salieri’s interest had been roused by the song Hagars Klage (D5).  Promptly he unleashed a flood of penny-dreadful ballads from his pupil, but amongst them is a setting of Schiller’s poem Der Jünglinge am Bache that must lay claim to being the first real Schubert song: lithe and subtle in its lengths of phrase.

Schubert’s last year at the college was 1813, and his wealth of compositions attested to the quality and variety of what he had learnt: a Mozartean quartet in E flat (D87), German dances, settings of Metastasio, Hölty, Matthisson.  In the autumn Spaun took him to see his first operas, and in a half-empty theatre (whilst the rest of Vienna was feting Rossini) Schubert fell under the spell of Gluck’s ‘Iphigénie and Euride’.  Perhaps drawing on ‘Die Zauberflöte’ as his exemplar, he began work on his own three-act opera ‘Des Teufels Lustschloss’ (D84), taking leave from lessons until he could present its fully orchestrated score to an astonished Salieri.  The master’s criticisms were heeded, for a revised version is dated five months after the first.

The highlight of 1813 is the D major First Symphony (D82), which Schubert finished on 28 October.  This is music of ordered and festive abundance.  And if, motifically, it struggles to be more than a pastiche of a young man’s models (Mozart in its organisation, Beethoven for its themes) the sheer sound is already and inimitably voluptuous.  Nobody else, you feel, could write dialogues for woodwind quite like this.  It is, as Maurice Brown has said, the consummation of absorbed years and of living contact with an orchestra: it is his justification for the future.



‘It’s true that the children irritated me whenever I tried to create, and I lost the idea.  Naturally I would beat them up.’

Schubert’s reminiscences of his time as a school assistant.

In 1813 Schubert’s future at the College hung in the balance.  Devotion to music meant that his progress in Latin and mathematics had been precarious, and some way had to be found to keep him in an environment where his talents could prosper.  As it happened an annual scholarship (the Meerfield Endowment) fell vacant, and it was decided to recommend Schubert for it.  The judgment was up to Emperor Francis himself, and he approved the 16 year-old’s application whilst he was engaged in the campaign to drive Napoleon deep within the borders of France.

            But it was the elder Schubert who decided his son’s future, and Spaun remembers violent quarrels when Franz was informed he would have to leave his composing for the evenings.  In November Schubert enrolled at St Anna’s Teacher Training College, where he marked time until his father took him on for £8 a year in the autumn of 1814.  It was a pittance of a salary, but sons were there to save wages; and the Liechtental school now had 300 pupils.  Franz’s lot was to teach six year-olds their alphabet, and they remembered him as uncomprehending and bored.In 1813 Schubert’s future at the College hung in the balance.  Devotion to music meant that his progress in Latin and mathematics had been precarious, and some way had to be found to keep him in an environment where his talents could prosper.  As it happened an annual scholarship (the Meerfield Endowment) fell vacant, and it was decided to recommend Schubert for it.  The judgment was up to Emperor Francis himself, and he approved the 16 year-old’s application whilst he was engaged in the campaign to drive Napoleon deep within the borders of France.

After a month’s stagnation he took up his pen with renewed zeal.  He had paused, if he’d known it, on the threshold of a staggering creative breakthrough, which would produce 400 works before he left his parents’ home in two years’ time.   His countrymen, euphoric at Napoleon’s exile and the Congress of Vienna (it made reliably dissolute entertainment before the country relapsed into greater despotism than before) discovered a fondness for Beethoven’s ‘Fidelio’.   Schubert went to see it and was gripped by a renewed mania for writing opera.  He realised that there was no success to be had with ‘Der Teufels Lustschloss’, but within a fortnight during May 1815 he whipped up the breezy ‘Der vierjährige Posten’ (D190) from the tale of a soldier who falls in love with the daughter of a village judge.   Over twelve days in July he drafted an epic of melodramatic banality, ‘Fernando’.  Then, until the end of August, he was busy with ‘Claudine von Villa Bella’ (D239).  By New Year’s Day he had finished his humorous and charming ‘Die Freunde von Salamanka’ (D326). There was more besides.  A buckshot approach, but in Claudine it threw up a masterpiece.  At least, so we think; for only the first act has survived.  The rest, in one of those unfortunate lapses of understanding, was used by Josef Hüttenbrenner’s servants for lighting fires.  Naturally it was with him for safe keeping.

Schubert found greater success in his liturgical music.  The Vienna Congress coincided with the centenary celebrations of the Liechtental Church.  Schubert’s Mass in F (D105) was performed in Salieri’s presence as part of the festivities in October 1814, and the soprano solos were sung by Therese Grob, a mill-owner’s daughter with a sweet lyric voice.  Schubert loved her with quiet sincerity, and only abandoned his hopes of marrying her three years later when his prospects of joining the middle class were in tatters.  By that time Holzapfel, his confidant, had talked him out of ‘this ridiculous infatuation’.  But it is not fortuitous that his first stroke of greatness in the vocal domain, depicting the shattering of a young woman’s dreams, came ten days after her performance: ‘When he is not with me, I am as though dead’.  The Mass itself is a work spun out of light: free, sure and gracefully dignified.

Schubert notes with pride, above the Allegro of his D112 Quartet: ‘Completed in four-and-a-half hours’.  At its best it is a piece worthy of young Mendelssohn, but there is no greater tribute to Schubert’s new-found facility and sense of adventure than the second of his completed symphonies, the B flat (D125), which he began on 10 December 1814.  Brahms loved this work for, as he said, its genuine delight.  Again, allusions to Mozart are within it – the E flat and G minor symphonies – and to ‘Prometheus’ as well as Beethoven’s own Second Symphony.  None of these origins prefigures a young man’s plunge into the middle of life: his new-found energy and bite.  Brian Newbould understood that the B flat major is a consequence of fresh reflection and self-questioning, where the power of dissonance is harnessed to create pace and tensile strength.  As Alfred Einstein notes of the Presto finale, ‘It is a piece of symphonic frivolity in sonata form, full of dynamic surprises, dropping off to sleep, as it were, and then waking up with a start.’  If the Third is the neatest of his early symphonies, the Second contains the most fertile clues to Schubert’s future.

Exasperated in the schoolroom, Schubert frequented local taverns and brought home new male friends: to the displeasure of his father, who perhaps already sensed that something about them was not right.  At lodgings in the Wipplingerstrasse a meeting was arranged by Spaun between young Franz and Johann Mayrhofer, a taciturn and mysogynistic lawyer, ten years older than Schubert, whose poetry – revealing as it does the conflict between ideals of the spirit and the actualities of life – was to draw noble-minded songs from the composer for the rest of his career.  In 1836 Mayrhofer’s second attempt at suicide would prove successful when he threw himself from an upper window of the building where he worked as state Censor; but he was one of Schubert’s few supporters who glimpsed the true dimensions of a genius, and he declared that none of his own verses seemed any good until Schubert set them.

Schubert was to use more of Mayrhofer’s work than of any poet except Goethe.  Already he had set ‘Am See’ (D124), a wistful remembrance of heroic deeds.  But then, 1814 was Schubert’s first great year of song: unleashing a Shakespearean canvas of characters, emancipating single-handed the piano as a dramatic player in the role of interlocutor, combatant, adversary, commentary, and driving force.  The Lied, for Schubert, has fluidity and intimate depth, newness and courage.  His awareness of movement and the possibilities of a melodic line, his master storyteller’s relish for timing and shifting nuance: these gave the Lied a potential which had been inconceivable.

In April 1814 alone he composed thirteen settings of Friedrich von Matthisson, whose collected works had been published three years before.  In them Schubert found reflected his own artistic compass: country scenes set in a sentimental light, ecstatic love, emotional remembrance, the anticipation of death.  Yet in one poet alone did Schubert found an intellect equal to his own, whose work he could fuse and expand into a totality greater than the sum of its parts.  It was Goethe, and on 19 October Schubert plucked ‘Gretchen am Spinnrade’(D118) from Faust.  Gretchen, bewitched by Faust’s love, sits at her spinning-wheel and contemplates the possibility of her ruin: ‘Meine Ruh ist hin, Mein Herz ist schwer’.  The piano’s churning semiquavers are more that the droning monotony of physical motion, more too than wretched perplexity.  They are the distillation of the moment at which a life is thrown into relief and meets its reckoning.

‘The birth of German song’, Gretchen has been called.  In the space of four minutes unfolds a drama which, if Schubert had written nothing else, would ensure his immortality.

Barbara Bonney’s “Gretchen”

Elizabeth Schwarzkopf’s ‘Gretchen’

Jagerzeile in Vienna by Franz Scheyerer, Austria 19th Century
Jagerzeile in Vienna by Franz Scheyerer, Austria 19th Century


Schubert wrote eight other songs the day he set Gretchen, but 1815 produced even greater profusion.  Otto Eric Deutsch’s catalogue of his works lists two hundred within twelve months: masses and a splendid Magnificat, a string quartet, dances, fragments of piano sonatas.  Above all he wrote Lieder, one hundred and fifty of them.

The notion of Schubert as a divinely gifted clairvoyant, scribbling music in a trance, is one of many myths.   He was breaking down the boundaries of song, with nobody to guide him: he knew when he had failed, and he returns to a poet – perhaps years later – until he finds a solution which covers each facet of the words, answers every challenge.  The secret comes when he fixes on a melodic or rhythmic cell, which encompasses the poem’s essence, and yet which is flexible enough to adapt to a changing narrative.  Gretchen’s spinning wheel is an instance.  Before Schubert, songs had been strophic (that is to say, a repeated melody for verse after verse: the formula of hymns and ballads).  Schubert’s first songs follow this scheme, yet increasingly he finds a some means of higher liberation which will open up something as great as theatre on a epic scale, something as private as a stream of consciousness.Schubert wrote eight other songs the day he set Gretchen, but 1815 produced even greater profusion.  Otto Eric Deutsch’s catalogue of his works lists two hundred within twelve months: masses and a splendid Magnificat, a string quartet, dances, fragments of piano sonatas.  Above all he wrote Lieder, one hundred and fifty of them.

Why does he set so much Goethe, following that revelatory reading of Faust?  Because, as Goethe says, ‘The most original men are not original because they tell us something absolutely new, but because they tell us things in a way in which they were never told before.’  The compression of Goethe’s emotional environment – transparent, classical in form and formal restraint yet profoundly individual – draws similar truth from the composer.  Goethe’s voice informs Schubert’s, whether he is setting Goethe or not.  As Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau writes, ‘Schubert found everything in Goethe’s poems that he tried to express in music.  Clarity of thought, unequivocal expression, deep sensitivity, imaginative language.’

Spaun tells how, one afternoon towards the end of 1815, he and Mayrhofer visited Schubert to find him glowing with excitement as he read aloud ‘Erlkönig’ (D328), Goethe’s ballad of a child abducted by the king of demons on a stormy night.  Briefly Schubert paced to and fro and then down he sat, committing the setting straight to paper.  Since his father had no piano, the three friends hurried to the Imperial College where it was performed a few hours later, and twice encored.  After Ruzicka had approvingly played it through, Schubert accompanied Randhartinger, a fourteen year-old plucked from the audience, until its hammering octaves exhausted his hands.   In triumph Schubert was presented with reams of music paper.

Here is a masterpiece of scene-painting.  Instantly we are made witnesses to a dreadful and fevered hallucination, a nightmare which unfolds with the stride of galloping hooves.  The Erlking’s seductive insinuations, whispered promises of golden cloth and fairy playmates, are made part of  surmounting musical modulation, at whose climax one key leaps to another in a despairing frenzy.  Too late the father realises what has happened, and his boy is dead.

It is the highlight of a year’s memorable achievement.  Already Schubert had grappled with the poetry of Goethe’s strange novel, Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre, which had been published in 1795-6.  Its verses are songs sung by a mysterious figure, the Harper, and by Mignon, the Italian waif who turns out to by the Harper’s daughter, offspring of incestuous love.  It includes the most admired poem in German literature, the elegiac  ‘Kennst du das Land?’ (‘Do you know the land where the lemon-trees blossom?’) which Schubert set as well as anyone since: ‘Mignon und der Harfner’ held Schubert in its spell for the rest of his life, and he set it five times, but his 1815 version is the best.

Better still is ‘An Mignon’ (‘Alone, my tears flow, but in company I’ll keep cheerful’): ‘Am Flusse’, set on the same day, brims with sweet pathos:  ‘Meeres Stille’ is a masterly evocation of deathly calm at sea.  Yet three Goethe songs from 1815 stand supreme.  ‘Heidenröslein’ (D257), the story of a wild rose which stabs the lover who plucks it, has a bucolic simplicity and freshness which elevates folksong to art.   ‘Rastlose Liebe‘ (D222) is a surge of pure feeling, as fine as anything in Romanticism’s liberation of painting at the same time.  Above all there is ‘Nähe des Geliebten‘ (D162, Nearness of the Beloved: ‘I think of you when with the shimmer of sunlight the bright sea gleams’), where the slow palpitation of the piano’s chords summons a sense of pleasure made more boundless by its poised containment and grace.

But there were other poets to set.  Friedrich Klopstock, who anticipates the Sturm und Drang (‘storm and stress’) period of German literature, had found fame with his epic ‘The Messiah‘ – and in ‘Dem Unendlichen‘ (D291) Schubert matches him in stately religious fervour.  Then there was Klopstock’s pupil, Schiller.  ‘Des Mädchens Klage‘ is pure pathos again, the singer’s voice rising above pulsating triplets: ‘Hektors Abschied‘ is as stately as the ‘farewell’ of a classical hero demands: ‘Des Geheimnis‘ is a love song of pristine delicacy and tenderness, anticipating Schumann.  Its only concession to Schubert’s youth is that he feels he has to adapt to every verse.  Later he would gain the shrewd economy of an old hand.

In the autumn Schubert was introduced to Maurice von Schwind, a dilettante poet studying law, who had heard his songs and had come to Vienna to seek their composer.  He found Schubert in his schoolroom, correcting exercises.  The two of them were the same age; and the cultured, worldly man urged Schubert to abandon the drudgery of teaching and devote himself to composition.  In 1815, then, we see in place the personnel of the Schubertiads: those musical gatherings of friends before whom the composer could try out his latest offerings.   The name is their own, and the offerings were not only his; if one of their new poems appealed to him, he might set it straight away.  His friends occupy a unique place in Schubert’s life.  They were his supporters, critics, a source of stimulus who, as aristocrats of a new and literate social class (many of its members educated at university) were able to introduce him to the shifting ideas and cultural currents that gave first impetus to the new Romantic age.  As Spaun recalled, ‘Through Schubert we all became friends and brothers’.  When Schubert did not live at home, he lived with them and they talked about him, spreading his name.  Joseph Wechsberg made an astute judgment of the impression they leave in their memoirs and drawings:

A relaxed crowd, always singing and dancing, and their girls were pretty in their high-waisted long dresses.  They would make excursions in the countryside or sit in wine gardens; they convey the image of a Biedermeier idyll.  No wonder, since most of the paintings were made much later when the artists remembered their earlier idyllic years with a sharp sense of nostalgia.


This was the era nonetheless when, as Abraham a Sancta Clara could report, ‘music resounded from noblemen’s houses and courtyards.’  There was a piano in every cultured home and Hausmusik (chamber music) in every drawing room.  The public at large enjoyed the Harmoniemusik of military bands in streets and squares, the string ensembles of Johann Strauss the Elder, harp players in the Prater, organ-grinders everywhere, and musical clocks on many buildings.  After the charades and high jinks of an evening’s Schubertiad, there would be instrumental pieces to write for bands of cultured amateurs.   One of their number and a friend from Imperial College days, Albert Stadler, copied out until 1817 every one of Schubert’s songs in his own hand, rescuing several for posterity.  Another recruit from 1815 is Franz von Schober, a flamboyant and epicurean lawyer who later became private secretary to Liszt: again an aspiring poet, maligned by other friends, with whom Schubert nonetheless shared his most intense confidences. At the age of 60 he married a firecracking intellectual.

It is interesting to speculate what a Schubertiad of 1815 might have been like.  Pudgy little Franz’s latest and hearty setting of Körner’s war-ballads, perhaps: glorious songs drawn from Hölty (‘An den Mond‘, D193) and Kosegarten (‘Die Mondnacht’, D238): Ossian’s celtic dirges, and of course Mayrhofer, who tempers Schiller’s enthusiasm for classical antiquity with Ossian’s gloom.  But the compass of Schubert’s thought was expanding beyond any of it.  The first two symphonies had unearthed possibilities but they were derivative and prolix: they needed geniality, suavity, polish, finesse.  These Schubert was ready to provide.  His Third Symphony (D200) was written between 24 May and 19 July.  The dates obscure its energy of inspiration, for between them he set the manuscript aside to write ‘Fernando‘ and much else.  Most of the symphony was dashed off in eight days.

We might guess as much, to judge by the overflowing spontaneity of the finale, but not from the serene confidence and craftsmanship of the conception as a whole.   Its spirit is rococo, and enchanting.  It’s true, the slow movement is Haydnesque; but Schubert’s voice throughout is clear and crisp in its organisation of matters-at-hand.  The snapping dotted crochets of his Great C major symphony have their origin in the first movement of D200: Schubert’s buffo ‘Presto vivace’ anticipates the finale of his D minor String Quartet a decade later.  It has been claimed that, if Schubert took to the Lied like a duck to water, in orchestral music he had to learn how to swim.  He learnt quickly.  In this second D major symphony there is a tightly integrated discourse, a level of repartee, which reveals at every stage how deftly Schubert has learnt to make a stimulus as natural as breathing into a symphony.  And this is what allows the music to smile.

As for ‘Erlkönig‘, it remained a cause célèbre amongst Schubert’s friends for the rest of his life.  In 1816 Spaun submitted it amongst a collection of Goethe settings to the poet himself, asking for a dedication so that the songs might be published with his blessing.   It was returned without a word.

‘Erlkonig’ (Fischer-Dieskau)

‘Erlkonig’ (Bryn Terfel)


(Left:) Johann Wolfgang von Goethe     (Right:)Schubert’s early first love, who married a baker and died childless


The year following ‘Erlkönig’ was one of miserable indecision for Schubert, and by 1816 the time had come for him to leave the family home.  His father, primly religious, supported Metternich’s crackdown on the arts, letters and for that matter travelling arrangements of anyone who might have been tainted by a whiff of subversion – any opponent of state or church who could be unmasked by the network of secret agents which permeated every street-corner.  Arrest was arbitrary, unlimited: and Mayrhofer’s publication of a magazine for enlightened ideas, Contributions to Education for Young People, was enough to arouse suspicion.   These were the circumstances under which Franz himself, out for the night with his friend Johann Senn, would in a couple of years be detained without charge.  As Mayrhofer writes, ‘Schubert’s melodies will disperse the gloom which surrounds us in these difficult days’.

Goethe’s rejection of Spaun’s letter must have been a stupefying blow, and at the beginning of 1816 Schubert’s application for the post of Music Director at the College at Laibach had been turned down despite Salieri’s advocacy.  In June he began to keep a diary (seldom the priority of a happy person) in which he notes his first composition for money.  Other entries are desultory, fragmented, incidental.  The companionship of his friends began to shine like a beacon upon an empty life, and by December he was living at Schober’s family rooms in the Landskrongrasse, on the understanding that he might contribute to his upkeep when he could afford to.The year following ‘Erlkönig’ was one of miserable indecision for Schubert, and by 1816 the time had come for him to leave the family home.  His father, primly religious, supported Metternich’s crackdown on the arts, letters and for that matter travelling arrangements of anyone who might have been tainted by a whiff of subversion – any opponent of state or church who could be unmasked by the network of secret agents which permeated every street-corner.  Arrest was arbitrary, unlimited: and Mayrhofer’s publication of a magazine for enlightened ideas, Contributions to Education for Young People, was enough to arouse suspicion.   These were the circumstances under which Franz himself, out for the night with his friend Johann Senn, would in a couple of years be detained without charge.  As Mayrhofer writes, ‘Schubert’s melodies will disperse the gloom which surrounds us in these difficult days’.

Much of Schubert’s music over the long months reflects his disorientation.  It treads water inconsequentially, as the work of occasional composers is liable to do, but there are fields in which he progresses with a vengeance.  Hoping to advance himself in a fashionable sphere (which, had he realised, was already on the wane) he attempted seven piano sonatas in 1817, meaning perhaps to publish them with a single opus number as older composers had done.   Beethoven’s influence is tangible in the thoughtful E minor (D566) and the E flat (D568), in which coy and luscious tenderness co-exist.   But Schubert is coming of age on his own terms, and he experiments freely with both form and medium.  In the slow movement of the Haydnesque A flat (D557) and several lovely fragments, Schubert contrives a masterpiece within its conventions: it is, as Alfred Einstein says, music which has fallen from heaven.   Schubert’s lyricism has no need of formal expositions, no need of trials and conflicts to be settled; his propositions would be destroyed if they were dissected into their thematic components.  All they seek is a frame of modulation (that is, the shifts of key that give music its feeling of light and shade) within which they can find their space, surrender to their self-absorption.  In these sonatas, at least, Schubert’s hope seems undimmed.

Why did hausmusik decline in popularity?  Because Rossini had lately arrived in Vienna, sweeping everything before him.  German opera was passé: Salieri had given up writing for the stage long ago.  The censors’ suspicion of social comment meant that there was room only for pantomime, farces, and spectaculars to make the philistines goggle.  Even Beethoven admitted how infectiously Italian melodies appealed to the ‘frivolous sensuality’ of the time.

Hedonistic froth provides the occasion to which Schubert rises in the Sixth Symphony (D589), his first attempt to write an ostentatious orchestral party-piece, which he began in October 1817.  The ground-plan is clearly Beethoven’s First, but there’s a flamboyant theatricality to which Beethoven never aspired, through which a twenty year-old struggles to break free of his early symphonic language.   It was performed by Otto Hatwig’s amateur orchestra in 1818, and sank without trace.

An Italian flavour in overtures at least gave Schubert his first public performance, when either the D major (D590) or C major (D591) was played by musicians from the Theater Wien at the Hotel Der römische Kaiser in March 1818.  The Theaterzeitung reviewed the concert:

The second part began with a wonderfully lovely overture by a young composer, Herr Franz Schubert, a pupil of the famous Salieri.  He has learnt already how to touch and move all hearts to emotion.   Although the theme is simple enough, a wealth of the most astonishing and agreeable ideas developed from it, worked out with vigour and skill.  It is to be wished that this artist will quite soon delight us with another new gift.

To Germans, Italianate style was a byword for superficiality.   Schubert, always a free-thinker, revelled in its racy good humour.  At this stage changing styles were for him simply new costumes in which he could wrap his own unique idiosyncrasies, with no jingoistic or moral implications.  The overwrought pathos of Mediterranean opera was there to be made fun of.  Schubert learnt from Rossini, using those lessons to powerful effect in the tragic F minor Fantasia, which he composed in the last year of his life.  In any case, if evidence were needed of Schubert’s lofty Teutonic credentials, he had already provided it in his first commission, the cantata ‘Prometheus’ (D451).  This he wrote for Leopold von Sonnleithner, a supporter of Schubertiads, who sang in the chorus and paid the 19 year-old composer forty gulden for the privilege when the music was given in the garden of Sonnleithner’s Erdberggasse house on 24 July 1816.  It lasted three quarters of an hour, and impressed its listeners profoundly.  Its manuscript has been lost for 150 years.

The crucial event of these years is Schubert’s meeting with the man who became his provider, his advocate and mentor, alongside whom he would give the first recitals of song as an art-form.  Johann Vogl was, it was said, ‘an actor ascending to the pulpit’: an opera singer whose intervals were spent reading Marcus Aurelius and Plato.  He has been  described as

A huge man from whose huge mouth issued an astonishing voice, a baritone both flexible and smooth, capable of stentorian and of gentle tones.  He was well over six feet tall, strong…lordly in movement, lordly in stride.  Having been brought up in a Jesuit college, he never lost a tendency to self-analysis, a moral scepticism applied to himself and to the world.

He had been a star at the Vienna Opera for twenty years, singing such roles as Orestes in Gluck’s ‘Iphigenia‘ (it had been there that Schubert first heard him) and Pizarro in the revised ‘Fidelio’.  Schubert expressed an urge to meet him and Schober, endlessly hectoring a world-weary man who knew well his own greatness, at last arranged an appointment at Landskrongrasse in the spring of 1817.  Spaun describes Vogl’s appearance:

At the appointed hour he entered gravely, and the little insignificant-looking Schubert made him an awkward bow, thanked him for the great honour, and in his embarrassment stammered a few nonsensical phrases.  Vogl lifted his eyebrows.  A bad beginning!  Vogl said, ‘Well, what have you here?  Accompany me’, and took a sheet of music paper lying on the piano.  It contained ‘Augenlied’, a pretty but not especially important song.  He hummed rather than sang.  ‘Not bad’ he said somewhat coldly.  But then he looked at ‘Memnon’, ‘Ganymed’ and other songs; singing with a half-voice, he became friendlier.  He departed without committing himself.  Before he left he tapped Schubert on the shoulder.  ‘You have talent’  he said, ‘but you are too little the actor, too little the charlatan.  You are too prodigal with fine thoughts, without developing them.’

Schubert thought the interview had been a failure.  But Vogl was more impressed than he cared to admit, and soon returned.  The songs he had seen had not let him rest.  An idea had come: he was now nearing fifty, an age which spelled the end of an operatic career.  But here, with the work of this young man, a new possibility opened.  He would become an interpreter of these extraordinary songs, which required not only singing but acting.

‘The enthusiasm with which this magnificent artist performed’ continues Spaun, ‘had the greatest effect on the young composer himself, who was overjoyed to see his long-nourished hopes fulfilled beyond all his expectations.’  Schubert and Vogl set out, performing not only in the houses of educated Viennese but in nearby Austrian towns.

However, it was not some new champion who had deepened the inward meditation of his songs from the end of 1816.  It was Mayrhofer and his contacts from Prague northwards, contemplating the failure of liberalism across Europe, which helped to lead Schubert from Rossini back to Mayrhofer’s own poems, to Schiller, and finally the Goethe of ‘Wilhelm Meister’.  The first of these songs are strophic; and the repetition of strophes demands a refinement in harmony, a more delicate appreciation of the music that is there to be gathered behind each poet’s words.  The profundity Schubert now finds draws from him a harmonic boldness which (as one can see from his second thoughts) sometimes frightens him.

‘Gruppe aus dem Tartarus’ (D396), best of the Schiller settings, has a chromaticism which still seems audacious.  Whilst travelling on a mail-coach Goethe had written An Schwager Kronos’, depicting a demon-postillion on his journey through this world as an ravenous adventurer who, having tasted life to the full, determines to drive triumphantly into hell.   Schubert’s setting (D369) is recklessly superb: a staccato figure clings to the changing metre and climbs on chromatically rising modulations, as the traveller drives hard into the mountains.  With the same magnificent clarity that has guided him through life, he foresees his plunge into the abyss.

Five of Schubert’s greatest songs are from March 1817, and the ink can hardly have been dry when Vogl made his entrance.   Goethe’s ‘Ganymed’ (D544) summons an antique world in a hymn of rapturous sweetness: Mayrhofer’s Memnon (D541) uses a mythological parallel of unbearable melancholy.  Schober’s ‘An die Musik’ (D547) becomes Schubert’s own anthem to artistic creation.   Claudius’s ‘Der Tod und das Mädchen’ (D531) and Schubart’s ‘Die Forelle’ (The Trout, D550) were to achieve fame in very different guises, as we shall see.

By December 1817 Schubert was dejected and alone once more.  At Schober’s he had become a salon celebrity, but Schober’s brother Axel returned from France, and needed his room.  Schubert had long since said his goodbye to Thérèse with a keepsake book of songs, and Franz the elder would only accept him back if he became a classroom drudge again.  There was no option but to accept bad luck, and tear himself away.  When Schubert’s family moved to a school at Rossau, he went with them.  His emotional crisis has left us only a couple of striking choruses for male voices, which are without precedent.  Yet his luck was about to change, for the roots of his fame were in place.

*        *        *

Schubert’s songs are enriched by his grasp the operatic treatment of arias in Mozart’s operas, and by his own symphonic experiments.  There is no better postlude to this period in his life than a little gem of his ripening maturity, the Fifth Symphony in B flat (D485), which he composed between September and October 1816.  If it presents a nostalgic aside after his Fourth, it is also a spiritual expansion of chamber music which is both intimate and great.  It is the Mozart of the Fortieth Symphony, the violin sonatas and great piano concertos, the G major quartet and G minor quintet, reappraised with Schubertean poetry and rhythmic verve.  As the English musicologist Donald Tovey wrote, ‘a pearl of rare price.’

But that cannot be the emotional postlude, I think.  In 1827 Hummel and his pupil Ferdinand Hiller came to hear one of Vogl and Schubert’s last recitals, which undoubtedly contained songs from these three early years.  In 1871 Hiller recalled the event:

One song followed another – the givers were tireless, the recipients were tireless.  Schubert had little technique, and Vogl had little voice left, but both had such life and feeling that it would have been impossible to perform these wondrous compositions with greater clarity or with greater sincerity.  We thought neither of the playing, nor of the songs: it was as though the music had no need of any material sound, as though the melodies were revealing themselves to ethereal ears.  I cannot speak of my emotions but my master, who after all had almost half a century of music behind him, was so deeply moved that the tears were trickling down his cheeks.

Schubert & Vogl

Vogl and Schubert

From the Fifth Symphony


‘Thank God I live at last, and it was high time; otherwise I should have become nothing more than a frustrated musician.’

Schubert’s correspondence, August 1818

At the beginning of July 1818 Schubert arrived at the castle of Zseliz on the Esterházy estate.   The explanation was simple: the Count needed a piano teacher for his daughters Maria and Caroline.   Schubert was cheap, available, and came with the recommendation of a mutual friend, Karl Unger.

There was a room waiting for him in the servants’ outhouse:

…Forty geese set up such a cackling that one can hardly hear oneself speak.  The people around me are all, without exception, very nice…The cook is something of a rake, the chambermaid thirty years old, the housemaid very pretty and often my companion, the governess a good old thing, the butler my rival.  The Count is rather rough; the Countess haughty but more refined; the two little girls are nice children.  So far I have been spared the ordeal of dining with the family.

When Caroline reproached him for not dedicating music to her, he replied, ‘What’s the point?  It’s all dedicated to you anyway.’  Inevitably  piano music stands out amongst his works at this time: duets, German dances, military marches; all those genres which a publisher could be relied upon to buy, and which our unsociable age of virtuosity-in-plastic has consigned to history.  The quality of Schubert’s duets is magnificent, their quantity enormous.  Were they his compensation for hearing so little of his own orchestral work?   Perhaps.  More to the point, his genre-pieces are poems confided to the keyboard, songs freed from the demands of sonata form.

The sonatas themselves show Schubert fighting to outstrip his models.  There is a turbulent fragment in F minor (D625) in which the Beethoven of the ‘Appassionata‘ is answered by episodes of bittersweet serenity: others too, in C major and C sharp minor.  The conclusion of this first period in his sonatas is the A major (D664), in which childlike enchantment disguises writing of enviable elegance, unity, symmetry.  The slow movement’s resigned happiness anticipates ‘Der Unglückliche’ (D713), which Schubert wrote in 1821: the finale echoes a song already complete, ‘Hänflers Liebeswerbung’ (D552).  But the A major takes us ahead of ourselves, to Josefine von Koller, the events of 1819 – and later, to the last sonata Schubert was to write, where the elysium of D664 is tinged with awe.

His disillusionment with Zseliz came quickly.  ‘Here I am all alone in the depths of Hungary, without a single person with whom I can exchange an intelligent word.’  And in another letter, ‘My longing for Vienna grows daily.’  When in November 1818 the Esterházys visited his home city, Schubert came with them and did not go back.  Franz the elder wrote a petition to a high church dignitary to draw his son at last into the fold, but Schubert would have none of it and moved in with Mayrhofer.  Relations between the two young men were cordial, and great settings of Mayrhofer led to greater Goethe, as if personal friendship tapped the creative springs from which Goethe could draw still finer music.  These were the circumstances in which Schubert was asked to write ‘Die Zwillingsbrüder’ (D647), a Singspiel (a music-drama with speech as well as songs) lifted from Georg von Hoffmann’s one-act play, as a showpiece for Vogl.  It was premiered in June 1819, withdrawn after six performances, and promptly moved the management of the Theater an der Wien to commission incidental music to a three-act extravaganza, ‘Die Zauberharfe’ (D644).  At least that survived eight performances.

Vogl’s habit was to spend his summer holiday in his native Steyr, an  ‘inconceivably lovely’ town amongst rolling hills.  In July 1819 Schubert accompanied him and for three months they basked in the admiration of local patrons.   It was one of the happiest periods in Schubert’s short life.   He writes roguishly to his brother Ferdinand, ‘At the house where I’m lodging there are eight girls, nearly all pretty – so you see, one’s kept busy.’  For the vivacious daughter of a local merchant, he wrote his D664 Sonata but for Sylvester Paumgartner, an iron-master and amateur cellist, there was a more famous gift, the Trout Quintet.   It was Paumgartner’s suggestion, and Schubert’s first instrumental masterpiece: a set of variations for piano and strings on what was already amongst the best-loved of the songs from 1817, framed by four graceful movements – as Hummel’s Piano Quintet had been.  But Schubert sails above his homely exemplar to create a shining serenade, in which music-making amongst friends is given the stamp of exuberant greatness.  As Maurice Brown well says, ‘The Steyr countryside was a secret collaborator in the quintet; it is even fortunate in its nickname, with its suggestion of cool, sun-flecked water.’

By September 1818 Schubert was composing ceaselessly.  Four months before he had come across the poetry of Novalis and the Nazarenes, in which the ideas of Goethe permeate a child-like love of Christ which is both confessional and mystically individual.  ‘Nachthymne’ (D687) is one of the best-known settings, as are the devotional ‘Das Abendrot’ (D627) and ‘Litanei auf das Fest Allerseelen’, which bares the simple expression of faith to which Schubert’s Romantic contemporaries aspired in vain.

Until 1821, then, the songs are preoccupied with a mythic land of rapture: a paradise lost to be animated with delicate shades of harmony.  Religious elation is the starting point, but its place is soon taken by the reminiscence of a chivalrous medieval age.  The final outcome of Schubert’s theosophy, in fact, is neither of those things: not historical nostalgia but pantheism, the belief that God is in everything and everything is God.  Its surmounting glory is ‘Gott in der Natur’ (D757: August 1822) in which the visible world becomes a manifestation of the eternal, and there is a moment of ravishing expressiveness in which the limitless breadth of Schubert’s tonal horizon rises like a symbol of infinity.  ‘The dawn is but a reflection of his garment’.  But who today arranges concerts for a choir of women’s voices?  And so it lies in neglect.

A marginally better fate has befallen ‘Nachtstück’ (D672), which depicts a minstrel facing death in a moonlit glade, and which is filled with the ‘sacred fervour’ of the soul.  It is a meditation on a cosmic scale, a longing for death.  ‘Sternennächte’ ripples with the splendour of night, as does the magnificent ‘Im Walde’ (D708).  ‘Die Götter Griechenlands’ (D677), a outpouring of exquisite and almost unbearable pathos, becomes a lament for the purity of a lost classical age which survives only in ‘the fairyland of song’.  ‘Salve Regina’ (D676) anticipates Lohengrin in its higher simplicity; and there is Goethe’s ‘Prometheus’ (D674), a great monologue of defiance whose vehemence seems also to presage an opera composer of Wagnerian stature.

Through the Esterházys Schubert met Baron von Schönstein in 1820.  With his fine baritone, Schönstein became after Vogl the most celebrated interpreter of the songs during the composer’s lifetime.  Later he introduced them to Liszt.  By concerts and word of mouth Schubert’s fame was spreading at last: to the Imperial courts of Vienna and Venice, and through the Fröhlich sisters to Austria’s most eminent dramatist, Grillparzer.  Recitals at the Kärntnertor-Theater won their day, and the Sonnleithner family’s private publication of ‘Erlkönig’ met with an overwhelming public response.  Marie Wagner, a young admirer, recalled of a Vogl concert:

We can have absolutely no idea of the effect which Schubert’s songs made at that time.  For a week after this golden Thursday the whole town was talking about Schubert and his songs.  People fell over each other for them, copied them all out, and soon afterwards a few books of them were published by Diabelli.

More manuscripts passed from hand to hand.  The Theaterzeitung, in its Goethe review of 22 May 1821, spoke of ‘a glorious wreath of song’ and the general belief was that Schubert stood on the threshold of a brilliant career.  The Sonnleithners were so heartened that they were even able to pay his shoe-maker.

New-found confidence manifested itself in a sumptuous ripeness and refinement to the piano accompaniments for Schubert’s Lieder.  What happened was this: Goethe had turned his own attention to transfigured Persian verse in the hopes of courting Marianne Jung, a demoiselle half his age.  Marianne responded with poetry as good as his, signing herself Suleika.  The two lovers parted, never met again, and Goethe passed off all of their two hundred poems as his own.

Schubert seized upon them.  To ‘Versunken’ (D715), with its teasing intimations of love-play and falling tresses of hair, he gives a fulminating erotic charge.  ‘Geheimes’ (‘Secrets’, D719) has soft charm: the poet knows the meaning of a glance, it promises ‘the next sweet hour’.  Brahms called ‘Suleika I’ (D720, set in March 1821) ‘the loveliest song ever written’.   The throbbing agitation of the piano, with its shiver of major and minor before an exultant climax and an ending of calm acquiescence, summons the vision of incandescent hope seemingly tempered by the aching inevitability of loss.  ‘Suleika II’ (D717) is buoyantly happy pastoral.  Its dedicatee, the soprano Anna Milder, wrote to Schubert, ‘It is heavenly and always moves me to tears.  It is indescribable: you have infused it with all possible magic.’

Then came the discovery of Friedrich Rückert, later to be adopted by Mahler, and Schubert’s settings of ‘Sei mir gegrüsst’ (D741, from early in 1822) and ‘Du bist die Ruh’’ (D776) are amongst the most marvellous of songs.  And there was a masterly first movement for strings: the Quartettsatz of December 1820 (D703), in which a poignant melody is played off against a desperate tremolando.  It is without precedent and represents a gathering of new strength: it anticipates the Eighth Symphony in its structure and expression of feeling; but after forty bars of the second movement, a rich and tragic Andante, the music breaks off.  It was never finished.

His crowning ambition, too, still eluded him.  In August 1821 he began a symphony in E (D729): sketched from beginning to end, too thinly to be reconstructed, but sufficiently to reveal itself as a tantalising link between the Sixth and Schubert’s symphonic maturity.  Its guiding lights are the structural clarity of Haydn, the elegance of Rossini; yet it aligns the intimacy of chamber music with the eminence of what was to be the Great C major (D944) in its span and burnished sonority.  In its command too of daring harmonic dislocations and rhythmic change, it is music which feels its way into the unknown with sureness.

In March 1845 Mendelssohn wrote to Ferdinand Schubert:

I received through Doctor Haertel the symphony sketch by your brother, of which you have made me the possessor.   What pleasure you give me through so fine, so precious a gift, how deeply grateful I am for this remembrance of the deceased master.  Believe me that you could have given it to no one who would have had greater joy in it.  It seems to me as if, through the very incompleteness of the work – the scattered, half-finished intentions – I became at once personally acquainted with your brother more clearly and more intimately than I should have done through a finished piece.  It was as though I saw him there working in his room.

From the ‘Trout’ Quintet


Vienna Hoftheater, Austria 19th Century
Vienna Hoftheater, Austria 19th Century


Vienna’s infatuation with theatre goes back to the miracle plays.  By the Baroque period opera was felt to be ‘a necessary spectacle’, promoted by the State as an endorsement for absolutism, the divine right of Emperors. To appear on stage became the highest ambition of any Viennese composer, attested by the success not only of ‘Fidelio’ but of  Mozart’s ‘Die Entführing aus dem Serail’, ‘Die Zauberflöte’ and, in 1821, Weber’s winning streak with ‘Der Freischütz’.

Now, Schubert’s flair for choral and theatrical writing is evident from what he called his ‘Easter cantata’ of 1820, ‘Lazarus’.   He had been interested in the problems of combining dramatic speech with song in such a way so as not to disturb the flow of the music.  The traditional solution drew a sharp distinction between recitative and aria, but Schubert had already experimented with the song-like treatment of speech (arioso) and at last he saw his chance to carry the idea further.  ‘Lazarus’ demands to be regarded as an opera as highly evolved as a great deal from the late 19th century.   Alfred Einstein comments, ‘If we say that, from the point of view of the historical development of opera Schubert’s fragment far surpasses Tannhäuser and Lohengrin, we are not making to great a claim.  [Lazarus] anticipates everything that Lysiart or Telramund have to say…it is a perfect work of art.’  Schubert left it incomplete, but he wrote more than enough to unmask the story of his rambling ineptitude.Vienna’s infatuation with theatre goes back to the miracle plays.  By the Baroque period opera was felt to be ‘a necessary spectacle’, promoted by the State as an endorsement for absolutism, the divine right of Emperors. To appear on stage became the highest ambition of any Viennese composer, attested by the success not only of ‘Fidelio’ but of  Mozart’s ‘Die Entführing aus dem Serail’, ‘Die Zauberflöte’ and, in 1821, Weber’s winning streak with ‘Der Freischütz’.

What went wrong for Schubert’s operas?  ‘Die Zwillingsbrüder’ of 1819 had been adapted from French farce (‘Les Deux Valentins’) by the secretary of the Kärntnertor theatre, yet the management there was in no hurry to stage the piece when it became clear that would clash with the premiere of  ‘Otello’.  To compete with Rossini was a daunting challenge, and Schubert could not provide what the public had come to expect.  As a native composer the single door open to him was German operetta, unless he could strike out into fresh ground where his contemporaries could only ape Mozart.  He pinned his hopes on a resurgence of German opera, yet the Italian impresario Domenico Barbaja was about to be given a twelve-year contract to manage the Court Opera at the Kärntnertor itself.  At Schubert’s first night there was a body politic of claques, as the critic from Leipzig reported: ‘That Herr Schubert has many friends who were very active in promoting him was evident at the first performance.  But they may have forgotten that between fiasco and furore, as the Italians say, there is tremendous difference.’  Needless to say that whenever supporters cheered, a rival faction hissed.  Between them the composer disappeared.

Vogl was censured by the Leipzig press for playing twin brothers ‘in such a way that one knew only too well it was the same actor who interpreted them.’ Schubert, ahead of the times, was criticized from all quarters for his endless modulation of keys, whilst ‘hardly any repose is to be met with in confused and supercharged instrumentation, anxiously striving after originality.’  But the crux of the problem was more deep-seated.  Schubert wrote for an audience which had abandoned Gluck, and he had never learnt the hard lessons of opera buffa and opera seria, on which his peers had cut their teeth.  The Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung noted,

Herr Schubert is too much wedded to details of the text; he tries to express words in music instead of the nature of a whole speech by means of the character of a whole piece…The music has much originality and many interesting passages, but it is a blot on the work that the sentiments of simple country folk are interpreted too seriously, not to say heavy-handedly, for a comic subject.

Put bluntly: too many songs, too little feel for greasepaint.  However, it was the last time that Schubert’s sense of occasion failed him so utterly.  After seeing ‘Die Zauberharfe’ (1820) Josef Rosenbaum wrote in his diary, ‘Wretched trash, quite failed to please, the machinery gibbed and went badly, although nothing remarkable.  Nobody knew his part: the prompter was always heard first.’  Several Viennese reviewers made clear that that failure of this second platitude was due to the stultified tedium of its plot and dialogue.  ‘True, there is music – and real music!  Many good ideas, forceful passages, cleverly managed harmonic pieces, insight and understanding.’  Such was the Theaterzeitung’s  evisceration of the score that had failed to overcome ‘a flood of boredom.’  The Conversationblatt added, ‘What a pity that Schubert’s wonderfully beautiful music has not found a worthier subject.’

It would be the same fate for ‘Rosamunde, Fürsten von Zypern’ (D797), the doggerel play for which Schubert composed incidental music in 1823 as a favour to Leopold Kupelwieser, who was hot-foot in pursuit of an actress.   It has been claimed that Schubert’s taste deserted him when it came to choosing texts for the theatre, but not so.  He needed a stage success to secure his reputation, and he made the best of what he could get: the trite Viennese sentimentality of Kotzebue and his lame literary imitators.  An A flat Mass (D678), which Schubert hoped would win fame and favours from the Imperial Court where his operas had failed, draws on its established texts to create a work of striking stature.  But it was too personal, too difficult and subjective, to make headway.

In September 1821 Schubert and Schober left for the castle of Ochsenburg at St Pölten in order to complete another opera: ‘Alfonso und Estrella’, a tale of love at first sight set within two opposing noble families (D732).  The libretto is another cobbled pastiche. All hopes and rumours foundered, for Barbaja turned it down.  Weber, impressed by what Schober had called ‘the rich and teeming ideas’ of Schubert’s score, promised to produce the work in Berlin.  Nothing came to pass, and with Vogl temporarily estranged, there was nobody else to speak on Schubert’s behalf.  By the end of 1823 and ‘Fierabras’ his disillusionment with the theatrical world was complete.

‘They put on rubbish’ he writes to Anselm Hüttenbrenner, ‘which makes one’s hair stand on end.’  Or in exhaustion to Spaun, ‘I should be quite well if this wretched business of the opera were not so mortifying.’  In the wake of ‘Die Zauberharfe’ there is a contemptuous poem, ‘Der Geist der Welt’, where Schubert attacks ‘those who with wrangling fill these days.’  His friends, too, were going: Mayrhofer left Vienna, Therese Grob married a master baker, and when Spaun was transferred to Linz as a tax-inspector Schubert composed a verse, ‘Und nimmer schreibst du?’ – ‘And never do you write.’  Spaun suggested he set it to music, but the result (‘Herrn Josef Spaun, Assessor in Linz’, D749) is not the carefree parody of an Italian recitative and aria that its recipient took it to be.  It is the shriek of a man who, in 1822, begins to see his life in ruins.

The story does not end there.  In 1867 Sir Arthur Sullivan and Sir George Grove found the music to ‘Rosamunde’ in what Grove recalled as ‘a bundle of music books two feet high, and black with the dust of nearly a century.  These were the part books of the whole of the music in Rosamunde, tied up after the second performance in December 1823, and probably never disturbed since.’

Tense with excitement at what Grove called this ‘treasure’, the eminent Victorians copied scores until two in the morning.  Then, in the night air, they played a game of leapfrog.

From the music to ‘Rosamunde’



‘There is a love story of Schubert’s which not a soul knows, as I am the only one in the secret and I have told it to nobody’.

Schober’s recollections of Schubert, 1869

‘Unfortunately Schubert’s thirst for life had lured him into byways from which there is usually no return, or at least no healthy return’.

Wilhelm von Chézy’s memories of Schubert

‘Any work of art is an uncommitted crime’

Theodore Adorno, Minima Moralia (1951)

The six little Moments Musicaux (D780), of which the earliest come from 1823, are amongst the most experimental and intimately lovely of Schubert’s piano works: the most sociable and, at the same time, the most enigmatic.  They are worlds within grains of sand, microcosms complete to the last detail, which make sense within themselves.  The last of them, in A flat, is worthy to stand as the minuet to an unwritten sonata; but Edward T Cone has revealed disquiet beneath its self-possessed appearance, in which promissory gestures are overwhelmed in an increasingly futile struggle.  A parasitic vice appears within the harmonies of this music: at first as a novelty, then as a dangerous alternative, and lastly as a poison.  All that survives its attack is the shell.  From now on, as Cone put it, ‘a cold wind seems to blow through even Schubert’s sunniest music’.  It is haunted by the ghost – the dread – of something else.  And Cone quotes Edmund Wilson’s essay on the fiction of Oscar Wilde:

Tragic heroes are shown in the peculiar position of suffering from organic maladies without, up to a point, being forced to experience the evils entailed by them…But in the end, the horror breaks out: the afflicted one must recognize himself and be recognized by other people as the odious creature he is, whose disease or disability will kill him.

Wilde knew that he had syphilis.

Having rejected the devotion of the ‘cherubic’ artist Moritz von Schwind, with whom he had been living, Schubert moved in amongst the Persian drapes and dressing gowns of the flat in which Schober frittered away his mother’s fortune, and soon his guest’s earnings.  This was in 1822.  He had dedicated his seductive ‘Geheimes’ to Schober; and in a letter he writes, ‘Only you, dear Schober, I shall never forget, for what you meant to me no one else can mean, alas!’  Schober was the cause of the current rift between Schubert and Vogl, of which Anselm Hüttenbrenner reports,

To me Vogl is extremely pleasing.  He told me all about his relationship to Schubert with the utmost frankness, and unfortunately I am quite unable to excuse the latter.  Vogl is very much embittered against Schober, for whose sake Schubert behaved most ungratefully towards Vogl…

It may be fortuitous that Vogl (a fop and ‘odd old bachelor’, declared Edward von Bauernfeld), was known to Schubert’s coterie as ‘the Greek bird’, and that in classical Greece the gift of an adult game bird to a youth was evidence of amorous intent.   Nevertheless, approached in 1858 for a Schubert biography, Joseph Kenner writes of a friendship he had broken off in 1816:

Schubert’s genius subsequently attracted, among other friends, the heart of a seductively amiable and brilliant young man…whose scintillating individuality, as I was told later, won a lasting and pernicious effect over Schubert’s honest sensibility…This intimation seemed to me indispensable to a biographer’s grasp of the subject, for it concerns an episode in Schubert’s life which only too probably caused his premature death and certainly hastened it.

Days later he is more explicit:

By Schubert’s seducer I meant Franz von Schober.  Under the guise of…engaging affection, there reigned in this whole family a deep moral depravity, so that it was not to be wondered that Franz von Schober went the same way.  The need for love and friendship emerged with such egotism and jealousy that to his adherents alone he was all: God himself, and apart from his oracles he was willing to tolerate no other religion, no morals, no restraint.

At this time Schubert joined a clandestine club of young men – actors, writers, opera-singers – meeting upstairs near the Kärtnertor under the guidance of their leading light Ignaz Castelli, whom they called ‘the Calif’.  After drinking past midnight, there were pranks to play: pulling the doorbells of sleeping neighbours and running off.

The police became interested; and perhaps there was something else besides, for as his friend Bauenfeld confides to a diary in 1826, ‘Schubert is ailing.  He need ‘young peacocks’ like Benvenuto Cellini.’  Cellini, of course, stood accused as ‘a dirty sodomite’ and a peacock, in language current since the Renaissance, was a transvestite rent-boy.

What happened to Schubert in 1822 will never be known.  By the end of February 1823 he was housebound with his family in the Rossau, and in May he entered Vienna’s General Hospital for mercury treatment.  The symptoms were those of secondary syphilis: nausea, giddiness, rashes, anaemia, inflammation of the glands, crippling headaches, loss of hair.  In his poem A Prayer he contemplated suicide:

                                    …See, abased in dust and mire

                                    Scorched by agonising fire,

                                    I in torture go my way

                                    Nearing doom’s destructive day.

                                    Take my life, my flesh and blood

                                    Plunge it all in Lethe’s flood

                                    To a stronger, purer state

                                    Deign me, Great One, to translate.

By summer his remission was sufficient to join Vogl at Steyr, but Schubert was aware he was living out the remains of a life-sentence.  To the end he was unable to control his appetite, whilst knowing full well its consequences.  In 1825 Schwind urged him to conceal ‘fleshly and spiritual needs – or rather your need for pheasants and punch’ if he hoped to obtain the post of Court Organist.  Schwind adds, ‘We shall have to play on our own pipes.’  This was one year after Schubert had written to Kupelwieser:

Imagine a man whose health will never be right again and who, in his despair over this, constantly makes things worse instead of better; imagine a man, I say, whose brightest hopes have come to nothing, to whom the joy of love and friendship offer nothing but pain, whose enthusiasm for beauty threatens to vanish; and then ask yourself if he is not indeed a wretched unhappy creature?  ‘My peace is gone, my heart is heavy, I shall never find it, nevermore’.  Thus indeed I can sing every day, for each night, when I go to sleep, I hope I shall not wake again, and each morning reminds me only of yesterday’s grief.

With zeal he undertook the three hundred works of his last four summers.  Music became his redemption, and he wrote most fluently when most depressed, without a trace of self-pity.  Getting to grips with the significance of one artist’s truth to himself is the purpose of the rest of this book.

Schubert – “Der Zwerg” (The Dwarf)



The last piece Schubert wrote before his sickness was the Wanderer Fantasy (D760) of November 1822.  It was the first of his mature piano works and was dedicated to a rich amateur pianist, Emmanuel von Liebenburg.  Diabelli lost no time in publishing it, for it appeared three months later.

The Fantasy takes its name from its main theme, which comes from the middle section of an 1816 song, ‘Der Wanderer’ (D489).  Throughout his life Schubert was intrigued by the challenge of unifying a long continuous work of several movements, and in the Fantasy he tackles it by adapting the same music for an opening Allegro, a solemnly expressive Adagio in which the full melodic line of the song makes its entrance, a Scherzo and fugal Finale.

The notion of the wanderer has a particular meaning to the early Romantics.   He is more than a vagabond, certainly; an emblem of restless alienation: a free spirit, both eager and wistfully pensive, who finds his purpose in his travels through nature.  Loneliness had not acquired the menace its mention brings to modern urban man.  The wanderer’s outlook was that is that of ‘Der Einsame’ (D800), with its sense of proud – almost defiant – fortitude.  Seldom, then, do musical challenges and philosophical resonances coincide as fruitfully as in D760.  In its lyricism, claimed Tovey, it harks back to Bach, and in its remote key relationships it looks forward to Wagner.

Schubert takes the virtuoso glitter of Hummel and gives it exhilarated wit and momentum.  The focussed thinking and command of theatre which vanished from the operas are crisp in every bar, through devices which only a piano can encompass: the piano’s voicing and range of colour, its unique contrasts and variegations of texture, its means of achieving a sense of climax, tension and pace, its percussive athleticism and – in the closing Allegro of the Wanderer – sheer power.

In this one piece Schubert set an agenda for the bravura keyboard showpieces of the high Romantic period.  Liszt admired the Wanderer and made a well-meaning transcription for piano and orchestra; but his lasting acknowledgement is his own B minor Sonata, which takes through-composition (that is, musical structure as a seamless development) a step further.  Schumann revered it, and the Wanderer has as much claim as Beethoven’s late sonatas to be seen as inspiration for the great C major Fantasia of 1838.  But it has also denied us greater music, for (doubtless scenting ready money) Schubert set aside the Scherzo of his Eighth Symphony (D759) to write it.  When the time came to return, the symphony was associated with repellence and disease, and never completed.

What is there left to say about the world’s best-loved orchestral music?  The Unfinished Symphony stands the world of the ‘Trout’ on its head.  Joy has turned to disappointment through which the presence of genius burns in its poetry and compassion.  Three movements were sketched in piano score, and two orchestrated, during October 1822.  It was abandoned, found its way to Anselm Hüttenbrenner, and had its first performance in Vienna in 1865.  Nothing else is known of its origins or fate, but decades of rumours of an unknown stroke of genius were confirmed.

As Paul Henry Lang wrote, the Unfinished is ‘a work every tone of which is Schubert’s own, and which can be placed next to those of Beethoven without paling.  Never in the subsequent history of music did this happen again.’  It is a miracle in organisation and economy within a sense of arched space, in emotional intensity and poise.  Not a note could be added or taken away.  It has the command of a master who knows he will be understood, who can dare without taking risks, who can say what had previously taken pages within the measure of one bar.  Its Allegro moderato is an integrated sonata movement of extraordinary tension, in the faraway key of B minor, the source of songs for Schubert filled with an unearthly magnetic charge.

Such preternatural grace is, as Alfred Einstein said, ‘fathomless; and the expression of poignant melancholy, the outbursts of despair, could be answered only by the innocence of the Ländler-like second subject’ for cellos.  The symphony’s second movement, simple in form, ‘needs no melodic development, only the interplay of small or large melodic groups of magical charm and magical euphony.’  Did Schubert realise that nothing more could match it, or feel that he had simply said enough?  At any rate, material from a projected finale may survive as the B minor Entr’acte in ‘Rosamunde’.

Syphilis, like the prospect of hanging, does wonders to concentrate the mind.  Such adventures as the Wanderer seemed suddenly out of the question.  Schubert’s first mature sonata is contemporary with his suicidal poetry: it is the A minor of February 1823 (D784), where lyricism is renounced in favour of pianism on an orchestral scale.

Not that there is any trace of the Wanderer‘s exhibitionism in this tersely tragic work, whose monumentality and dramatic violence unfold on purely instrumental terms.  We are offered a darkening underworld, a place of plunging silences and sinister whispers, above which the apparition of lost bliss hovers like a phantasm.  Heard after the fearful marches of an Allegro giusto (did Bruckner in his Eighth Symphony, or Mahler ever, say more than Schubert could in fourteen minutes?), the monothematic Andante has the quality of one of those flowers that open only in the night, and which might be visited by Redon’s or Fuseli’s night-creatures.  If the last movement of Chopin’s ‘Funeral March’ sonata can be described as ‘gossip’ then so, in desolation, is the finale here; more even than ‘An Schwager Kronos’, it is music from an abyss.  It is a landmark which precedes the cosy Romanticism of Mendelssohn’s midsummer night and outstrips it by fifty years.

Convalescence meant being cut off from society, like a leper.  As Beethoven’s nephew Karl remarks in their conversation book, ‘Everyone speaks very highly of Schubert, but they say he has gone into hiding.’  To pay his hospital bills he was forced into rash business deals.  First he sold for a negligible lump sum his publication rights to a corpus of work.  This was again to Cappi & Diabelli, with whom he instantly broke off dealings when he suspected them of sharp practice.  His next publishers, Sauer and Leindesdorf, were incompetent to the point of bankruptcy – forcing him cap-in-hand back to his original arrangements.  Schubert’s friends looked on in dismay; but unlike Beethoven he had no patrons, none of Hummel’s or Salieri’s favour in high places.  Always he took what he could, but in financial matters (as in his personal welfare) he was prone to self-neglect.

Solace came in an outpouring of songs.  In December 1822 he had composed ‘Nachtviolen’ (D752), a marvel of cryptic intimacy, luscious and delicate and supremely simple, whose significance is deeper than its surface meaning – as we shall see.  There had been the ‘Der Musensohn’ (D764), which dances off through clear air to a land of immortal youth, and early in 1823 ‘Du Bist die Ruh’’ (D776) a devotional and transcendent suggestion of a satisfied lover’s peace.  Collin’s ‘Der Zwerg’ (D771) is the ballad of a court dwarf who strangles on board a boat the queen with whom he is infatuated.  Schubert, laughing, set it in a few minutes flat; and he invokes from a faded grotesque music whose gloom chills the heart.

But the prize of 1823 is ‘Auf dem Wasser zu Singen’ (D774), which depicts the soul departing upon water in the evening sunlight.  It is the supreme evocation of Sehnsucht: the early Romantics’ longing for a mystic world of the spirit, with our temporal world as mere shimmering appearance.  There is no greater instance of the haunted ambivalence which underlies all Schubert’s work that this fluttering juxtaposition of major and minor, of longing and radiant fulfilment, capturing at the same moment fervour and exalted serenity.

Carlos Kleiber’s “Unfinished”: First Movement

Carlos Kleiber’s “Unfinished”: Second movement

Muller 0-271-00266-2md


The origins of the story about a beautiful maid of the mill, one of whose suitors kills himself, are difficult to trace.  It was the subject of Paisiello’s opera ‘L’amor contrastato’ (1788), which made a triumphant progress through Germany under the title ‘Die schöne Müllerin’.  But Goethe had also written a sequence on the subject of a young man who loses his heart to a miller’s daughter, and there is a whole section in ‘Des Knaben Wunderhorn’, the famous anthology of folk-poetry.  Paisiello was the toast of Berlin after the Napoleonic Wars; and adapted as a party-game his plot was picked up by the Wilhelm Müller, a young Romantic whose best poetry celebrated the Greek struggle for liberty, but who himself had plenty of experience of unrequited love.  Müller was nagged by his circle of friends to write out his extemporised contributions, which appeared in newspapers and which, as Seventy-seven poems from the posthumous papers of a travelling horn player, were published in full during 1821.

How Schubert came across them is not clear.  The story is that he pocketed them from Benedikt Randhartinger’s library and presented the astonished owner with his settings next morning.  More likely he had been introduced to them by Weber in 1822.  However it happened, in Schubert’s hands they became the vehicle for one of the great leaps forward in musical possibility, which kept him busy both in and out of hospital during 1823.  Selecting twenty-six of the poems, he presents us with a journey of one man’s discovery: beginning with homespun images of masculinity in the open air, then the fantasy of virility, of being desired and of absolute, infatuated possession (the miller’s daughter is a tabula rasa upon which the wandering hired hand projects his self-belief), continuing through jealousy and doubt into the realisation of devastating failure.

Seven years earlier Beethoven had published his own song-sequence on the subject of love, ‘An die ferne Geliebte’.  Schubert knew it, and ignored it.  He created instead an evolving drama with an underlying thread: recognising that the poetry had been written under the influence of Goethe, and digging into the scenic and dramatic resources he had himself developed in setting Goethe’s work.  He was stirred by the notion of overwhelming emotion mirrored in nature; and if Müller’s verses are naive, Schubert’s treatment has the sophisticated subterfuge of artlessness, fashioning something that feels as natural as folksong.  He had come to terms with Schiller’s allegories, he knew the language he was looking for, the tensions and resolutions he could exploit: its iconography too, the imagery of the young Romantic world.  He took the language of flowers and dragged it towards the language of Tristan, summoning a universality and force that poems alone could not approach.  He creates an archetype, a myth at a new pitch of expressiveness; a variety yet cumulative wholeness which adds a new dimension of sustained drama and narrative to the song form.

Romanticism brought fresh intensity to language, but German poetry has always had Arcadian leanings.  Goethe is not the intellectual in his love-poems that Shakespeare or Danté are, but someone close to nature.   Schubert, above all, lacks guile: he is never courtly, never domesticated.  As Richard Capell said of a composer whose outlook often seems too trusting to have known disillusionment,

He roams at will.  Schubert’s Arcadia is his whole known world, from which he never conceives of an escape.  There is no bitterness…for Schubert has everything to find out for himself.  That is why we cannot help thinking of him as a shepherd, fluting away his young days in grassy solitude.

Not quite, for the leitmotiv of his music is the sound of flowing water, which stands for life.  The suggestion of a stream runs through ‘Die schöne Müllerin’, whether overtly or as some hidden presence; and the waves seem to adumbrate the moods with astonishing psychological aptness, and become their commentary.  Only in excesses of the miller’s imagination does the stream disappear: it is his source of counsel, the fountain of innocence and vitality from which he tries to break free, and in the end, the coldness that drowns him.  Charles Rosen writes of the connexion between an awareness of landscape and the awareness of death:

The most signal triumphs of the Romantic portrayal of memory are not those which recall past happiness, but remembrances of those moments when future happiness still seemed possible.   There is no greater pain than to remember past happiness in a time of grief – but that is the classical tradition of the tragedy of memory.  Romantic memories are often those of absence, of that which never was.

In these circumstances the fragrance of a flower, an ill-wind, a sound from the past, even ‘die böse farbe’, an evil colour, brings with it a spectre taken out of place and time.  As Rosen continues, ‘These memories do not cause the past to live again; they make us feel its death.’  Such emblems, to the Romantics, are more than literary conceits, more than convenient ellipsis.  They are a totem as much alive as sinews and bone.

Schubert intensifies Müller by stripping him of dramatic events, even of anecdote.  We are left with the trivialities of everyday life (a left ribbon, the glimpse of a reed flute) whose significance becomes that of life or death.  For the first time in music, Schubert gives us a purely lyrical expression which moves towards the inevitability of physical extinction – just as ‘Winterreise’, four years later, will take the same persona (older, wiser, embittered) to show it suffer spiritual death.

It is impossible to separate these songs from their ordered place, because each establishes the emotional atmosphere for the next.  Schubert opens with pastoral music: the miller’s carefree vigour, the swing of the mill-wheels and muscles of steel, are caught in the same flourish.   The cycle’s emotional climax, ‘Mein!’ is followed by the ambiguous hush of ‘Pause’, after which anything might happen.  ‘Die Liebe Farbe’ (‘the beloved colour’) is a quiet crescendo of heartbreak, falling apart at the tempo of a pulse, using the tonality of alienation and derangement.  It has a numbness that lies beyond jealousy and despair, an uncomprehending obsession which anticipates suicide.  Yet the end, when it comes, is handled with the  delicacy of a lullaby.

Schubert’s control depends on the finesse of his tonal progressions, which cater for every opposition and nuance of tone and meaning.  Briefly, ‘Der Müller und der Bach’ uses a language which clashes as tempestuously as any discord in Liszt’s ‘Vallée d’Obermann’.  More often the listener must remember earlier songs in the cycle to make sense of fleeting harmonic subtleties.  The pivotal piece is ‘Thränenregen’ (‘shower of tears’), in which the first intimation of failure is palpable: and we realise that ‘Mein!’, which follows it, is phrased in the past tense.  It is the recollection of what never happened.

How far away the certainties of the classical world have receded.   Rosen concludes, ‘The song cycle is the most original musical form created in the first half of the nineteenth century.  It most clearly embodies the Romantic conception of experience as a gradual unfolding and illumination.’  The form of Schubert’s song cycle is no less precise than that of a Classical sonata, but its precision is only gradually comprehended as it unfolds.  This is the lesson Schubert now brings to his instrumental music.

Fischer-Dieskau’s last “Schone Mullerin”

Franz Schubert by Gustav Klimt, Oil on canvas, 1899, 1862-1918, Austria, Vienna Museum, 150x200
Franz Schubert by Gustav Klimt, Oil on canvas, 1899. Austria, Vienna Museum.


‘No one understands somebody else’s unhappiness or joy.  People imagine that they can reach each other, but they only pass one another by.  How sad it is for the man who realises this!  What I have created is born of my understanding of music and my own sorrow: those works that were created mostly by suffering seem to please the world least of all.’

Schubert’s diary, 27 March 1824

‘Schubert is conspicuous among great composers for the insufficiency of his musical education.  His extraordinary gifts and his passion for composing were from the first allowed to luxuriate untrained.  He had no great talent for self-criticism, and the least possible feeling for abstract design, balance and order…’

C H H Parry: The Art of Music

Posterity’s problem in grasping the reasons why Schubert writes as he does owes a little to his status as a transitional figure between Classicism and the Romantics.  It has far more to do with an idiom which is unique to itself.  How true is it that, in assembling his larger musical structures, Schubert fails by the standards of his predecessors, as an architect of classical rigour?  He has, after all, been called ‘degenerate’.  More to the point, how much are human emotions a rigorous thing – beyond one historical period in western man’s attempts to make sense of them?

Schubert was never happy with conventional sonata form.  In his earliest pieces he grapples with it like a good student: later, it seems to bore him.  And it doesn’t matter, because the emotional flux of song-writing (the turbulence of a changing persona which, over the course of a song, a story-teller is able to reveal) gives him a pretext to break free from the formal straitjacket of his times.   But as Martin Chusid has shown, an impatience with the orthodox tensions of classical structure tingles within him from his first steps in instrumental composing.  What is classical structure?  It is about contrast, and a richness of allusion which stems from the relationship of parts to the whole: an antagonism between themes which is at last resolved.  But Schubert is a melodist, whose melodies are shot through with dazzling harmonic colour: that is to say, an awareness of the relationships between keys that gives known material new insight and reverberation, the changing context that enables a singing line to soar like a bird.  What can he do?

Schubert’s piano sonatas are both formal and informal.  Formal, because his mature essays (unlike Beethoven’s) have the same number of movements as a symphony: they are Schubert in his Sunday best, giving domestic music the status of a symphony.  Informal, because Schubert writes away from the piano, and he wants his sonatas to have the apparent spontaneity of an improvisation.  The slow movement of the D959 A major Sonata is a case in point.  He begins with a barcarolle, which he needs to bring back with even greater pathos so as to draw the Andantino to a close.  A contrast is needed, a middle section.  But what a display Schubert provides!  It is a storm as real as any in the ‘Annees de Pélèrinage’ two decades later, yet in a different realm: a storm of the spirit.  It is a calculated attack not only on conventional form, but on the boundaries of sense itself.

When I say that Schubert is bored, I mean he seems unable to suffer any length of time in a given key without the sort of harmonic digression which is apt to burst like a firework; and his tonal iridescence cries out for a recognition which is unburdened by the proprieties of classical style.  Already we have touched on the interplay between major and minor in Schubert’s songs, and it is the conjunction of the two that gives his instrumental and orchestral work its dramatic propulsion.  The opening Allegro of the D887 Quartet (June 1826) is torn by such violent collisions of tonality, such audacious harmonic schemes, that the choice of G major as home key seems almost fortuitous.  The smallest changes find energy to drive a whole movement.   Only in his last music is this post-Classical harmony most thoroughly evolved; but the non-vocal works of 1824-27 see Schubert’s scheme of things being worked out.   Through them one can witness the tragedy in a teacup of the Fourth Symphony – the almost unrelieved charm of early sonatas – being supplanted by something more flexible, diverse.

For a moment we need to step forward to the piano music of his last months, including the Piano Sonata in C minor, D958, which is one of the most formal and one of the most questioning – the most subversive – pieces he wrote.  Consider the first movement.  Ostensibly its guiding spirit is the ‘Pathétique’, and Beethoven would have been the first to savour the  noise it made: this tolling, resonant amplitude and emotion pared back to the cutting edge, what Beethoven used to call ‘the voice from the vault.’  Its crucial tonal intervals are those of the fifth and minor sixth: expressed in different keys, but above all in a little figure of G – A flat – G which serves as a pivot, a point of reference as it emerges in different guises: sometimes in the treble, sometimes in the bass, but always differently harmonised so as to suggest (in minor keys) darkness and stress; or (in the major), tension and ambiguity.  So much for the opening theme, the first subject.  As it dies away in vehemence the little figure repeats more expressively, and in the second subject (a hymn-like tune of soothing warmth) its harmony is innocent, simple.  This, and an echo which is shifted down a tone, means that the hymn sounds warmer still on its return, borne on a tranquil figuration in the bass.

Not for long.  A dance-like variation plunges the second subject into the minor, and at the end of it, the G – A flat – G motif becomes a cry of despair.  To end his exposition in a mood of proper reconciliation, Schubert’s harmonies return to the major, tinged with an edge of sorrow; so that the three notes sound more equivocal than before, and at last the plangency of the minor sixth is made to reveal its true identity.  The music’s credentials seem flawless, so far.

Soon something is not right.  The development section’s aggressive jostle of keys is a deliberate act of disorientation, and the coda’s reprise of its material means that we end the movement not in synthesis, but in disquiet.  So much for the psychology of classical form.  But what is more interesting is this first movement’s use of silence: the pauses in which a listener’s fears intensify, to be confirmed or confounded.  Here, as in the Scherzo’s broken and self-interrogatory phrases, Schubert creates a climate of emotional didacticism: as if he wanted to establish a sounding-board for a state of being, for what it might be like to occupy a certain moral condition.

What, then, can be said of the slow movement’s changing masks?  Its subjects tackle each other as if they were voices in an developing narrative.  Such events lie a world away from the ceremonial contrasts of classicism’s ne plus ultra: the variations of Beethoven or Mozart, which achieve transcendence when other options have been exhausted.   Schubert’s fascination lies not with structural but with emotional potential.  His music moves like a dialogue conducted in shifting light.  This is what Alfred Brendel meant when he spoke of somnambulism:

In his larger forms, Schubert is a wanderer.  He likes to move at the edge of the precipice, and does so with the assurance of a sleepwalker.  To wander is the Romantic condition; one yields to it enraptured (as in the finale of the A major Sonata) or driven and plagued by the terror of finding no escape (as in the C minor).  More often than not, happiness is but the surface of despair.  Suddenly, the mind is overcast.  Nothing is more typical of Schubert than these febrile afflictions of unease and horror.


The falsehood of imagined order has been lost.  Schubert’s chaos is not that of incompetence, any more than the joy with which he revolves those moments in which he was free from care.  His purpose in each is to establish not a framework but a fate.  Aaron Copland described best the conception of art that strikes home for us today, and it not the Enlightenment’s:

Each work brings with it an element of self-discovery.  I must create in order to know myself, and since self-knowledge is a never-ending search, each new work brings only a part answer to the question, ‘Who am I?’ and brings with it the need to go on to other and different part-answers.

How does any work of art operate?  James Joyce spoke of ‘epiphanic moments’: the instants of revelation, he said, where all anticipation is suddenly transformed.  Its equivalent, in music, is the Gestalt: a creative manipulation of the double entrendre, using all the devices at a composer’s disposal.  When it comes to manipulating his listeners’ expectations, leading them on through a movement only to sweep all their preconceptions aside as deftly as a magician, Schubert is second-to-none.

I do not mean only the interlude in ‘Das Lied in Grünen’ (D917), heavenly though it is.   I mean something as important as Heidegger’s conviction that poets are in the vanguard of a changed conception of being.  Take the opening of D960, the last piano sonata Schubert wrote: a  stream of lyricism with only three chords to hint at suspense to come.  He draws back from these intimations of drama, then seizes them to press forward, changing to the minor and bringing back his glorious opening tune in a veil of ambivalence, so that it sounds more heart-rending than ever.  His ‘draughtsmanship’ in these bars, as Tovey lovingly called it, is one of the greatest miracles in music.

Revolutions, including Beethovenian ones, are a rattling good idea in their place.  But the crackle of cordite is not the only way in which Romanticism needs to manifest itself; and if Beethoven (conspicuously in the dusty battles of his middle period, the time he wrote the ‘Waldstein’ and   ‘Appassionata’) presents us with a robust Hegelian dialectic, we should also find time for more reflective processes of evolution.  The master himself was reported to have said of Schubert, ‘This one will surpass me.’  So announced the Vienna newspapers in 1819; and whilst rumours are generally groundless, one suspects Beethoven might have been the first to appreciate that, if we confine music within the limits of some implacable dogma and stringency, we deny it space to grow.

The year 1824-25 was a golden one for Schubert.  Beginning in despair, it ended with new friends, fame at the Musikverein, and new intellectual horizons as the craving for a ‘grand symphony’ possessed his imagination.  March 1824 was the occasion of his drunken tirade against a couple of Opera House musicians who were tactless enough to approach him for a commission:

Artists?  Musical hacks is what you are, nothing else!  How can anyone spend his whole life doing nothing but bite on a piece of wood with holes in it?  I am an artist, I!  I am Franz Schubert, whom everybody knows and recognizes.  Who has written great things and beautiful things that you don’t begin to understand.  And who is going to write still more beautiful things: cantatas and quartets, operas and symphonies!  Because I am not just a composer of Ländler as the stupid newspapers say and stupid people repeat – I am Schubert!  And don’t you forget it!  You crawling, gnawing worms that ought to be crushed under my foot – the foot of the man who is reaching to the stars.  To the stars, I say, whilst you poor puffing worms wriggle in the dust and with the dust are scattered and rot!

This is Schubert on the brink of his last period, more than ever intent upon winning – as he knew he had to win – his public.  He wanted to become an instrumental and orchestral composer, he declared: using the piano sonata and the string quartet as stepping stones.  Death was an inevitability; meanwhile you hoped and lived.  There were charades to play in convivial company, good mountain air to breathe, tours with Vogl.  Yet Schwind writes of a new seriousness:

Schubert is inhumanly busy.  A new quartet is to be performed at Schuppanzigh’s…He has long been at work on an octet, with the greatest zeal.  If you go to see him during the day he says, ‘Hullo, how are you? – Good’ – and goes on working, whereupon you depart.

The work which was absorbing his energies, the Octet for strings and wind instruments (D803), was commissioned by Ferdinand Count Troyer, an amateur clarinettist, and at Troyer’s suggestion modelled on Beethoven’s Septet, Opus 20.   The number of movements is the same (six), but Schubert adds a second violin, and vibrant brilliance of tone.  The wind are offered every chance to show off their cantabile, strikingly so in a series of enchanted dialogues.  This is the ‘Trout’ of a man who has known wisdom and decay: its Scherzo a chase through sunlit country: the Minuet and Trio dancing with the easy rhythm of the Ländler, yet using harmonic adventures to twist euphony into artistic significance.  The Theme and Variations pick up a jaunty love-duet from the early ‘Die Fremde von Salamanka’.

There is, you might say, a worm at the core of this music.  The tremulous opening of its finale quotes Schiller’s ‘Schöne Welt, wo bist du?’, which to Schubert has become associated with corrupted joy.  Yet its purpose is to make the following Allegro shine more brightly, and its brief return is an impressive dramatic stroke.  The Octet is the old Divertimento – courtly, suave and sociable – infused occasionally with a new sense of a Romantic quest.

The first violinist in the Octet, Ignaz Schuppanzigh, served as an occasional elder mentor to Schubert: and it was Beethoven’s own quartet (Schuppanzigh, Holz, Weiss and Linke) which gave the first performance of the Quartet in A minor, D804, on 14 March 1824.  ‘Rather slowly’ felt the composer, ‘but with great purity and tenderness’. The kernel of this pellucid music is its Minuet, which quotes ‘Die Götter Griechenlands’: as the Octet did (‘Lovely world, where are you?  Return once more, fair and flowered age of nature!’) but in a context of infinite sorrow: levitated beyond pity into a memorial realm through two bars of bare harmony (a hushed figuration of three notes) and rhythm.  The effect is to isolate the movement and raise it into music with the sense of a visitation, a moment of ordained time.   The slow movement draws on the theme from the third Entr’acte to ‘Rosamunde’, which is used again in the D935 Impromptus, but never aches more than here.  In the Hungarian finale the mood changes, within an eerie envelope, from geniality to anguish.

The A minor Quartet and its successor in D minor (D810, also March 1824) were planned for inclusion in Schubert’s Opus 29, and each borrows themes from his most taciturn songs.  The music of the D810 Scherzo is taken from the sixth of twelve tiny German Dances (D790) but the slow movement, Andante con moto, is a series of variations drawn from his song ‘Der Tod und das Mädchen’.  Death here has the status it had to Mozart: ‘the truest and best friend of man.’  It no longer holds terror, it is an inevitability and a consolation; but neither can there be the triumphant conclusion of Beethoven’s Opus 95 Quartet, which was written at roughly the same time.  Schubert’s hammering rhythm becomes a threat in the first movement, a funereal trudge through the second, a dance in the third and, in the finale, a momentous and deathly Tarantella.  There is no question that Schubert intended this unity, and pursued it through every bar.  The stylistic gropings of the Quartettsatz have become a conviction of means and goals, both of which are without precedent.

The D810 Quartet was met (reports Franz Lachner) ‘with by no means unanimous approval’ by its private audience in Vienna.  The same fate befell the last of this autumnal triptych, and the last quartet Schubert wrote: the G major (D887), which was written within ten days, two years later.  Nobody, it was said, could understand what Schubert might be driving at; and even in 1850, D887 was felt to be too uncompromising for general circulation.  Its first movement is music of visionary intensity, spun on by electric collisions within the tightest constraints; yet pervaded too by the chill of Weber’s ‘Freischütz’.  The effect is of questions and answers: a sinister interchange whose significance lies outside itself.  The slow movement is a lament which manages to be both trenchant and menacing, and it casts a shadow in which any subsequent optimism can be seen as no more than empty posturing.

It seems banal to mention the virtuosity with which Schubert has mastered sonata form.  The G major lives in the same season as ‘Winterreise’, and it is no surprise that material of its Andante reappears there in ‘Einsamkeit.

Between the D minor and G major, Schubert had been busy.  In 1825 he made a five-month tour of Upper Austria with Vogl.  It was the longest and the most productive holiday of his life.  ‘I find my compositions everywhere’ he wrote to his father.  There were new sonatas to play, new songs to sing.  When he stayed with Spaun’s relations in Linz, Anton Ottenwald was surprised to see him looking so well and strong, ‘so comfortably bright and genially communicative.

‘I have never seen him like this’ his host continues.  ‘Serious, profound, and as though inspired.  How he talked of art, of poetry, of his youth, of the relationship of ideals to life, and so on.  I was more and more amazed at such a mind.’  And then Ottenwald reveals, ‘By the way, he began a symphony at Gmunden, which is to be performed in Vienna this winter.’  At last Schubert was within reach of his lifelong wish.

Long before Schubert’s birth, the symphony had outgrown its humble origins and become supreme vehicle for serving what was called ‘the new sonata style.’  The orchestra’s increasing powers of projection, its self-sufficiency and dazzling sonority, made it ideal to project a purely musical argument without recourse to either a verbal text or the concerto principle of the Baroque era.  Demanding a musical idiom which had the resources to sustain itself, the orchestra turned composers towards planning on a large (eventually a gargantuan) canvas.  Instrumentation, harmonic planning, tonal structure and the deployment of themes: these were the nuts and bolts of symphonic writing, and the epitome of Classical style.   As an exercise in vision, scope and integration, the symphony’s possibilities seemed limitless, and it came to be seen as no less than a challenge the human spirit.  In ground-breaking strides it became the yardstick of greatness against which Schubert had to measure himself.  He pursued it like the Grail.  It was, as he once said to the publisher Schott, ‘the highest form of musical art.’  In 1823 he’d had a trail of failures and fragments behind him: now, with indomitable music under his belt, he felt ready to tackle his mission.

For decades the 1825 symphony was thought to be lost.  We know now that it is the same as the ‘Great’ C major: D944, which the composer revised in the last years of his life, or appended with a fresh date to make it easier to sell.

Gmunden, in which he and Vogl had stayed six weeks, rests idyllically on the shores of Lake Traun.  From there the two moved on to Gastein, a spa town amongst mountain waterfalls.  The Great C major too is an irresistible torrent of sound.  It is, as Sir Thomas Beecham was the first to say, the symphony in which Schubert proves himself to be the peer of Beethoven.  It is the last great Classical symphony: looking back the roots of its tradition, rediscovering Mozart’s enjoyment of sheer movement, emulating the scale of Beethoven’s ‘Eroica’ and Ninth Symphonies, owing next-to-nothing to any of them.

Years later, Robert Schumann appealed to the C major in his own proposal of marriage to Clara Wieck.  And he wrote:

Everyone must recognize, while listening to this symphony, that it reveals to us something more than mere beauty, mere joy and sorrow.  Here we find, beside the most masterly technicalities of musical composition, life in every vein; colouring down to the finest gradation; meaning everywhere, sharp expression in every detail…

And then the heavenly length of the symphony, like that of a thick novel in four volumes, perhaps by Jean Paul who also was never able to reach a conclusion, and for the best reason – to permit the reader to think it out for himself.  How this refreshes, this feeling of abundance…the entirely new world that opens before us.

Now, Schumann doesn’t quite hit the nub.  Schubert’s writing was never more richly variegated than here; but its bounding rhythmic spring gives a majestic cohesion, something easy and gracefully splendid, to the widest range of interludes.  Once its proportions and its symmetry have been understood, it is a piece whose thinking is impeccably concise.  Its appetite for life and sense of pace, the sweep with which it carries off its own weight, mean that it is not a minute too long.

The disembodied call with which two horns open the symphony has a  familiar ring.  It uses the rhythm Schubert used to set Goethe’s ‘Gesang der Geister über den Wassern’ and also ‘Die Allmacht’, Schubert’s song of praise to the Creator, which was written in August 1825.  As John Reed observed,

The primordial hymn which announces the theme of the great C major is a hymn to the glory of the natural world…Its pages bear the imprint everywhere of his romantic feeling for natural beauty, both in its total conception and in detail.  Nobody who has heard the notes of the traditional alpenhorn echoing round the mountain valleys can doubt where Schubert found the inspiration for ‘the horns of Elfland faintly blowing’ which so magically illumine the first movement.

In all its moods – serene, bucolic, or in the exhilarated perpetuum mobile of its finale – this is a symphony brought to life by song; but a song of grander breadth, sonorous power and sustained fervour than could be heard before or since.

It used to be thought that the Grand Duo in C, D812 (June 1824) was a transcription for duet of a Gmunden-Gastein symphony that had been lost.   Such is the richness of Schubert’s piano music in these years.  He tried his hand at four piano sonatas: ever more unified in their themes, more cogent in their manipulation of themes.  The first of them, in C major (D840: April 1825), is unfinished – hence its nickname of ‘Reliquié’.

This is the first sonata to show the extraordinary spaciousness of Schubert’s later instrumental music.  Confidence, a sense of striding out into nature, is as marked as in the Wanderer Fantasy, but with lyricism in place of the earlier fevered display.  There is a hint of Alice through the Looking Glass as the listener is led through a series of remote keys, to a last-minute twist.   The second movement is even more surprising: a cradle-song which is interrupted by explosive interludes, with quirky harmonic delights en route.  After that, there are only sketches.

The overall plan and opening theme of the A minor Sonata, D845, come from the same stock; but its emotional affinities lie with the A minor work of two years before.  It is as if D784 were the glacial egg from which a work of art has germinated: if by art we mean, as Henry James did, ‘a mind in dialogue with itself’ or as Schoenberg believed, the expression of significant emotional experience through an organism with an anatomy, a life of its own, a function and reason for being.  In D845 the most intimate and the most massive perspectives are aligned through an act of unfolding consciousness in which optimism always fails.  It is an event as private and as public as our own mortality.  A trio with the naivety of a fable is pitted against a structure of brutal force: the private meditation of the slow movement’s variations – only once instance of the sonata’s stupendous capacity for transmutation – offers a fleeting glimpse of wounded innocence, the memory of something faraway which is more intense for having been violated.

If D845 has the closeness of a confession, the next sonata (D major, D850: August 1825) is Schubert at his most ceremonial.  It was written as a display-piece for a virtuoso pianist, Karl Maria von Bocklet.  Thematic emptiness is not a charge one can often lay against Schubert, but perhaps in the opening here.  Nor is it the issue, because he uses the clash of major and minor to generate one of his most impressive structures.  The benevolent slow movement shoots red blood into the Larghetto of Beethoven’s Second Symphony, but it’s in the Scherzo one becomes aware of an agenda hidden beneath the surface.  Its opening bars are mock-heroic, and the final Allegro moderato trots away with angelic sweetness.  No wonder Schumann was appalled by this little game.  For Schumann, thinking like a child came naturally.  For Schubert, it is a matter of guile.

The molto moderato e cantabile of the Sonata in G major, D894 (October 1826) has the same mysterious poise as ‘Du bist die Ruh’’ and ‘Im Abendrot’, an ethereal calmness which suggests time standing still, as it does in the opening of Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto.  Both this and the slow movement use dramatic interventions to animate placid opening themes, which then resolve in warm affection.  It is contemporary with the quartet in the same key, yet it has the relationship to Schubert’s piano music that Beethoven’s Opus 95 has to his chamber music: a transitional essay, which looks forward to Schubert’s last months whilst being a delight in itself.

The Rondo finale has the quality of bells across a meadow.  This time Schumann was at his most perceptive.  ‘If anyone has not the imagination to solve the riddle of the last movement, let him leave it alone.’  And of the sonata as a whole?  ‘In form and spirit, it is the most perfect work.’

String Quartet No. 13 in A minor (the ‘Rosamunde’ Quartet), D. 804

String Quartet No 14, D minor: ‘Death and the Maiden’

Schubert’s Octet, D803 (Janine Jansen)

Zimmerman’s Impromptu, D899 No 3

Kempff’s Impromptu D935 No 1



 ‘The soul of Man is like the water; from heaven it comes, to heaven it ascends…Soul of mankind, how like the water, fate of mankind, how like the wind.’

Goethe, ‘Gesang der Geister über den Wassern’

‘It is no longer that happy time during which every object seems to be surrounded by the bright splendour of youth, but rather a time of fateful recognition of a miserable reality which I try to as best I can to beautify by my imagination.’

Schubert’s letter to his brother Ferdinand, July 1824

Are Schubert’s songs for chorus no more than neglected manuscripts for a dead form of music-making?  If so, the loss is ours.  ‘Die Nacht’ (D983: ‘See how the clear stars move in the meadows of heaven’) evokes phosphorescent stillness within its first bar.  ‘Wehmuth’ (‘Melancholy’, D825) is about the atmosphere that envelopes a mood.  Then the nuances of words can look after themselves; for harmonic progression means that upon scene-painting Schubert is able to fuse a story of one individual’s loss with consistent fatalism.  He summons the Romantic conception of life and death within a pastoral landscape, unified by the rhythm of a tolling bell, and no other composer could make a major key shift quite so pitiable.  The dissolving musical contexts of ‘Nachthelle’ (D892) allow Schubert to depict first the earth, then the spellbound poet, and a lambent field of constellations.  Within fifteen minutes, all three pieces are over.  Yet each is a macrocosm: and if Mahler claimed that a symphony should be like the world, we have been made aware that for Schubert every song is a world.

As Richard Capell used to say: Schubert had eyes, he glanced rapidly, and he took in the main features of a poet’s scene as no musician before him had done.  A hint of landscape, of atmosphere, or of an accompanying movement or gesture, ‘struck his fancy and started in him picturesque figures of a unique vividness.’  His song-writing represents a special agreement between music and verse, unlike any known before or since.

Above everything his songs are meditations, not meant to address a crowd, but discovering delight in new poetry and a new instrument.   He was exhilarated by it, engrossed: and like Beethoven he conceived the developing piano as an orchestra.  Comparisons of the keyboard writing of either man to passages for strings, brass or drums, are not fanciful.   Yet the piano is an oblique instrument, a chimerical instrument.  Its voice lacks colour.  It veers between sensuous communication and an idea of music, an abstraction: and precisely because of that – not in spite of it – the piano calls up an imaginative potency beyond its resources.  False to assume, then, that the pianist in a Schubert song is an accompanist.  Singer and instrumentalist are on different planes, joined in a communion between equals, in an act of symbiosis that neither alone can more than hint at.  In many of Schubert’s songs the melodic line is not self-supporting, but glows through the figures and harmonies with which it is associated, their rhythmic agitations and developing emotional suggestion.  It would be as facile to dismiss him as a melodist as it is to label him a classicist.

Schubert’s songs are related to the Lieder of the past only the formalities which they negate: by their discovery of simple, indivisible, invincible dramatic movement.  In ‘Im Abendrot’ or ‘Litanei’ the sheer quality of the long vocal line, shorn of virtuosity and all extraneous effect, is never in doubt.  In ‘Der Atlas’ (D957) he hugs every word, but things are not as simple as that.  The kernel of the song is a line well into Heine’s poem, ‘Eine Welt, die ganze Welt’ (‘A world, the whole miserable world, is my burden’) and for this key phrase Schubert has devised a welling motive, a gathering of force which his introduction must anticipate like a prophecy, and from which the remainder of the song must grow.  So it does.  Schubert matches metre and poetic import to achieve an embodiment of Romanticism’s Zeitgeist, its defining world-view.

In his Lieder, Schubert aligns music and Romantic literature to represent what has been called subjectivity in action.  By this I mean more than an act of eager artistic engagement.  The aim of a Romantic song is not to enhance the emotional force of the text, nor even to refashion its meaning by either direct or ironic means.  The purpose is, as Lawrence Kramer has put it, ‘to represent the activity of a unique subject: conscious, self-conscious, and unconscious, whose experience takes place as a series of conflicts and reconciliations between inner and outer reality.’   The subject of Romantic poetry, according to Wordsworth, is a ‘mighty mind’ which ‘feeds upon infinity’.  Its mission is no less than to enlarge the historical and the personal concept of self, to articulate the voice of the self.  To quote The Prelude (1805), such a mind is

                                    Ever on the watch

                                    Willing to work and to be wrought upon…

                                    Exalted by an underpresence

                                    The sense of God, or whosoe’er is dim

                                    And vast in its own being.


A voice for the self, then.  But whose voice?  The persona of the composer, speaking through music, but standing apart from it?  No, not necessarily; nor the persona of the poet, the text.  Above either of them stands something summoned up for the occasion, a personality with a life of its own which affirms itself by recasting the rhetoric, rhythm and imagery of the text on its own terms: giving it the ‘magical power’ of imagination described by Samuel Taylor-Coleridge, which ‘dissolves, diffuses, dissipates, in order to re-create.’  The movement of a song corresponds to this process of discovery, where the composer’s imagination encounters another thinking entity, which it might accept or repudiate.  It is an meeting between the self and a kaleidoscope of other opportunities, other personified self-images, other possibilities in knowing.

Classical tonality is in the business of resolving things: making clear, making good, making simple.  Not so for Schubert.  His songs recurrently incorporate a conflict between Classical tonality and harmonic innovation, which never quite escapes its Classical origins, yet draws them out beyond a system, beyond a dialogue between systems.  His songs are a human testament – Classicism parodied, saluted, betrayed and made uncanny.  They are an arena for clashing perspectives, where what seemed natural is exposed, stripped to the bones, appropriated, or left alone.  Where he leaves things well alone, his ingenuousness is not simple, but sophisticated.  ‘Heidenröslein’, charming though it may be, is not the invention of an innocent.  Quite as much as the D850 Piano Sonata, the Lieder are a feat of metacommunication; by which I mean, a commentary on the presumptions upon which a body of experience depends and with them, the means by which it can be expanded, recrafted, brought down.

You see this most clearly in those through-composed songs where Schubert splits the composition into disjunctive halves which, at the end, are tenuously reconciled by what Kramer calls ‘tonal circling’: a desultory process of floating through a cycle of keys in the direction of home.  So ‘Einsamkeit’ (from ‘Winterreise’), begins with bleak detachment, framed in a mordant impaction of harmonies.  Its second section is a jagged display of shifting dynamics.  Twice the music struggles towards a climax, and the credulous tonality of the opening gains a bitter frustration.  Its frame of reference has changed: truth has broken through just as at seems we were about to fall into a fool’s oblivion.  This is a song about learning a lesson, about being the same but changed.  What games of subtle mystification Schubert plays, and what clarity of perception they bring.

Classicism is, for Schubert, the flickering background before which he plays out his lonely dramas.   Edmund Husserl, a phenomenologist, introduced the concept of ‘horizon’, by which he meant the tacitly apprehended context of lived experience.  In ‘Die Stadt’ (D957), where the poet glimpses a town from his boat, classical sense represents the security of the past, and harmony threatens to collapse with the poet’s sanity: when the sun rises the light of day reveals only the pain of lost love, a neurotic re-enactment of failure.  But there are none of the histrionics by which Tchaikovsky or Mahler would announce their latest bout of ostentatious self-pity.  Schubert’s harmonic vacillation places him in a different league of genius; and with him we end as we began, in an impressionistic haze of existential dread.

Why are there so many songs about nature?  Partly because the evaporating tone of the early piano lends itself to rapid and watery figurations, whose changing currents suit a mind of Schubert’s darting inventiveness.  But no, not really.  Schubert is an artist who deals in shared experience, but the experience of his fellow men as an extension of nature: nature as the gateway to the world of the spirit which for the Romantics was a higher reality, yet nature too as a force implacable in its capacity for cruelty and dissolution.  Just as Schubert was a social animal enlightened and destroyed by the activities of his friends (and there is so much of their poetry in his hymns to creation), so it was to predestination that he owed everything, including his knowledge of his own appalling fate.  Primeval diversity and renewal might serve as an emblem for human hope, their energy for the fact that each of us is ultimately and horribly alone; but for Schubert there was more immediate significance.  It was the force with which his vital urges ebbed and flowed.  Take a letter from Vienna in 1826:

I am not working at all – the weather here is truly appalling.  The Almighty seems to have forsaken us altogether, for the sun refuses to shine. It is May, and we cannot sit in any garden yet.  Appalling!  Ghastly!  And the most cruel thing on earth for me.


What more could be expected from a syphilitic, whose body was corroding as his vision became more acute, whose decay fluctuated with the cycle of seasons?

Seen in this light, a symbol of fidelity and modesty (and this is what Dame’s Violets, the flower of Aphrodite, meant to Schubert) serves too as a token of clinging through thick and thin.  An image of poisoned love, as well; but that came after the composing of ‘Nachtviolen’ (D752) in 1823.  Yet on any evidence, ‘Nachtviolen’ is no longer a song about a flower.  It addresses a significant element in our moral predicament.  It is about a land of childlike rapture, of purity and the vulnerability of innocence.  And this, distilled into music, lies at the heart of its sense of balm within suspended time.

The rococo elegance of ‘Gott im Frühlinge’ (D448), fresh with the nascent energy of rising sap, is more than a pantheist’s nostalgia for an age in which emotion was apprehended more simply and clearly than it is for us.  It finds Schubert’s most optimistic recognition of what could never be regained.   ‘Art concealing art’, it has been said of this song: and so, inimitably, it is.  No wonder the Viennese used to complain that ‘this time the popular composer has gone too far.’’ The universe of his thinking – the universality of his themes – was as far beyond their perception as the stars through which Schulze, in his poem ‘Der Liebliche Stern’ (D861) explores a decline into madness.  Schubert’s significance is in the fact that his music is never contained in its form; its modernity is its intangibility, the fact that nothing can be taken for granted.

The figure of the Harper’s Songs, an outcast beneath the wandering moon, is not an isolated artistic phenomenon.  The withered leaves and pathetic fallacy of ‘Die Blumen Schmerz’ (‘The flowers’ pain’, D731) and ‘Die Blumensprache’ (‘The language of flowers’, D519), the sense of transgression (‘flowers proclaim our suffering’) portend a desire for death.  The rose (‘Die Rose’, D745) is a symbol of purity to mark the progress of a living being on the path to eternal cold.  In ‘Nach einem Gewitter’ (D561) the felicities of natural order (embodied in harmony) shine like a string of pearls: the stars are tokens of constancy beyond a world of self-delusion, part of an immensity with which we can commune.  In ‘Die Sterne’ (D176) Johann Fellinger asks, ‘You stars, so noble and so fair; What drives you on your dark course Through the blue ocean of the ether?’  And in ‘Am See’ Bruchmann speculates,

                                    If man becomes a lake,

                                    Stars, oh so many stars

                                    Will fall from the gates of heaven

                                    Into the play of waves within his soul.

It is the pristine insight of an outsider which lifts Schubert’s music into a timelessness which the faded sentimentality of its literary sources could never attain.  Listen to ‘Der Liebliche Stern’ and you realize that he has no need to follow every nuance of these words.  This is because each song presents a world-view which is pervasive and compelling.  Schubert gives us a portrait, not of a mood, but of what it is like to be such a person.  The richness of his suggestion – the tingle of empathy between Schubert’s experience and our own – makes for artistry of a supreme calibre.  But what makes it magical is its sense of contradictions assimilated and made fertile.  The words of ‘Auf dem Wasser zu singen’ (D774) might almost be his epitaph: ‘May time disappear on shimmering wings: I vanish myself from changing time.’  The half-light of ambivalence, the sense of stasis within motion, of languor within palpitating ardour: all of this, polished between Classical discipline and Romantic contemplation, adds to Schubert’s unique lucidity and stature.

The moment of dusk is a special one for Schubert.  To a Romantic thinker the world apprehended through our senses was simply a hieroglyph for one beyond.  The function of the artist was to lead us to the frontier between the seen and the unseen, to express that longing for the world of the spirit which the Romantics called Sehnsucht.   Nature stands at this barrier as the omnipotence of truth, and its discovery as truth to oneself.  As Stolberg says in ‘Auf dem Wasser zu singen’:

                                   The soul, too, glides like a boat

                                    For from the sky the setting sun

                                    Dances upon the waves around the boat…

                                    The soul breathes the joys of heaven,

                                    The peace of the grove, in the reddening glow.

In the night Schubert finds release from the dictates of his age, and takes flight in diaphanous suggestibility.  There, more than anywhere else, he takes the hedonism of the Viennese and makes it into a sort of utopia.  Nightfall, to Schubert, is not a time of misgivings or the oppression of thickened light.  It is a time of dancing brightness, for phantasy and moral reappraisal, freedom to overturn the incontrovertible truths of the day.  It brings out the best in him, as it did in Yeats and Samuel Palmer: nocturnes, fables, an occasion for whispered and discovered intimacies beneath rustling leaves and the songs of birds: a chance for introspection touched with benevolent mystery.  In ‘An den Mond’ (D259) the moon nourishes the night to give solace to the happy man ‘who, without hatred, shuts himself off from the world.’  In ‘Stimme der Liebe’ (D418), a moment of flaming expectancy seems to materialise in the summer night:

                                   Come, fair Laura!

                                    Flowers bloom at her airy footsteps

                                    And like the music of the spheres

                                    The sweet voice of love

                                    Floats tremulously towards me from the roses of her lips.

Brahms said, ‘There is not one of Schubert’s songs from which you cannot learn something.’  But a musician put it less prosaically.  It takes a rather good composer, he wrote, to catch the sound of starlight.

Elizabeth Schwarzkopf: “Im Fruhling”

Elizabeth Schwarzkopf: “Nachtviolen”

Der Musensohn (Ian Bostridge)

“Auf der Bruck” (Fischer-Dieskau)



‘The standard of inspiration is past explanation.  Every time I come back to it, the mystery remains.’

 Benjamin Britten on Schubert’s ‘Winterreise’

In February 1827 Schubert was worn out.  As the year passed he came to show increasing symptoms of the old malaise, but for now something else was tapping his energies.  Spaun takes up the story:

Schubert had been in a sombre mood for some time.  When I asked him what was wrong, he would only say, ‘You will all soon hear and understand.’  One day he said to me, ‘Come to Schober’s today.  I shall sing you a cycle of frightful songs.  I’m curious to see what you will all say about them.  They have taken more out of me than was ever the case before.’  He then sang us the whole Die Winterreise with great emotion.  We were taken aback by their dark mood, and Schober declared that he had liked only one of them, Der Lindenbaum.  To that Schubert only said: ‘I like these songs better than all the others and one day you will fall for them too.’  And he was right; we were won over by the impression made by these profound songs which Vogl sang in a masterly way.

History has tended to agree with Schober.  ‘The Lime Tree’ soon gained the status of a popular ballad, its invitation to suicide discreetly underplayed; but only in the twentieth century has the cycle been recognised as the greatest inspiration of the greatest song-writer, and performed complete.  Above all these are poems for winter, composed in the shadow of winter.  One could call ‘Winterreise’ a musical novella about time, and be right so to do.  But it is also the work of a man whose sickness and vicissitudes have left him utterly alone, who can save himself only by making his own beleaguered hopes into something better.

Both ‘Winterreise’ and ‘Die Schöne Müllerin’ are about broken love, and both correspond to critical stages in Schubert’s syphilis.  The winter’s journey starts at a later point in the story: the course of a young man’s love is already behind him, and the work opens on his leaving the town where his love still lives, without seeing her again.  ‘Winterreise’ is more sparse in texture than ‘Die Schöne Müllerin’.  It is has fewer of those strophic songs which spread their wings expansively and come to a comforting close.  ‘Winterreise’ traces a bleak trajectory towards death.

The Winter’s Journey is the story of a realist who confronts his lack of self-knowledge until the puzzle of his destiny is vouchsafed to him.  This is in the final song, where he approaches a hurdy-gurdy man shivering in bare feet on the icy outskirts of a town from which he has been driven by dogs.  Before that encounter the wanderer has not met a soul.  He speaks to the river, a crow, the snarling dogs, the snow.  But they never reply as they would in Märchen, the sentimental and supernatural tales of Schubert’s day.  The objectivity is unremitting, as it must be for us to eavesdrop on the monologues of a private extinction.  The wanderer’s name is not revealed, the events of his life are already past.  He is an outline stumbling in a snowstorm.

Time is rarely measurable.  We gather that between ‘Im Dorfe’ and ‘Der stürmische Morgen’ a night has passed.  We never know what distance the wanderer has travelled.  The journey unfolds within a cocoon of private and fractured sentience whose introspection, whose corrosive interrogation of each emotion, is rooted in the wanderer’s sense of estrangement from the world and from himself.  It is a glimmer of emotional, not logical, episodes.  Each song depicts a stage in the lover’s experience, where a specific state of mind is reflected by the austerity of the winter landscape.  Many of the songs have little if any physical movement, although the poet observes other things: a bird of carrion circling overhead, the last leaf dropping.  The focus is drawn inwards to concentrate on a psychic journey, the journey of life itself whose twists and turns, whose pain and final loss, are reflected and illuminated in images of Nature.  The fleeting memory of hope is a glint of iridescent water: the endless present of the final songs, with the horror of eyes that cannot close and which are condemned to live and to witness, is echoed in the grinding of a machine that ‘no one wants to hear’.

It is the panorama of organic life, organic forces, which gives this human plight its universality.  To Schubert, as to all Romantics, the ardour of love (its heightened sensory awareness) allows empathy with a natural world in which feelings find their correspondence.  With ‘Winterreise’ a direct parallel is drawn between external and internal nature – which Schubert underlines musically by means of texture and dissonance, by continuities and breaks in the vocal line.  Schubert’s sense of context was never more eloquent than it is here.  He reverses Wilhelm Müller’s order for ‘Mut’ (‘Courage’) and ‘Die Nebensonnen’ (‘The phantom suns’) so as to follow false cheer and bravado with a cryptic lament for the light that has drained from the poet’s life.  This sets the stage for the meeting with a starved musician.

The country walk, and its ideology of a direct contact with Nature through physical activity pushed to the point of exhaustion, dominated German literature from the mid-18th century to the Second World War.  No surprise, then, that images of walking dominate the first half of the cycle here, many of whose songs suggest its rhythm.   Over this movement Schubert imposes the musical images of landscape – for ‘Mein Herz’ a frozen stream, beneath which feeling still flows.   It is the symbol of the poet’s heart.   Beyond exhaustion, in the second half, is the intimation of death: so that the piano figuration for the raven, which hovers above the voice, descends finally into earth.

‘Winterreise’ is unsurpassed in the art of musical representation.   A signpost (‘Der Wegweiser’) is the formal announcement of death, and it induces in its rigidity of line a sense of imminent terror.  As Charles Rosen put it,

Throughout Winterreise, the dynamic processes of nature are represented by musical landscape painting of extraordinary suggestion and even precision: the pivoting of the weathervane, the flowing water under ice, the rustling of leaves, the winter wind, the will-o’-the-wisp, the slowly moving clouds, the quiet village street, a stormy morning – all these receive a remarkable musical contour.  As in the great landscape tradition, present sensation and memory are superimposed and confounded.  Above all, it is the sense of future time that Müller and Schubert have added to the physical sense of the present and the past.

Now, Schubert flourished in the climate established by Goethe’s novel The Sorrows of Young Werther, a warning against the consequences of excessive sensibility in which a young artist was brought down by unconsummated love.  In turn ‘Winterreise’ is the forerunner of Schoenberg’s expressionist ‘Erwantung’ and its retreat from pain into the labyrinths of the self.  Yet ‘Winterreise’ is unique.  It begins with the door slammed in its face and no other music has quite its capacity to invest the major with the colour, the afterglow, of desolation and disillusionment.

Schubert understood the verbal extravagance of Müller’s verses and knew he had to pare his own language back to its simplest.  The appearance of E major for ‘Der Lindenbaum’ brings home with painful immediacy, after the minor keys of opening songs, the happiness of the past.  The melodic line of ‘Der greise Kopf’ draws a silhouette in music.  The ending of the cycle brings an unemotional pause on the brink of insanity.  In these final moments Schubert seems to reveal his familiarity with the maimed and staring numbness of terminal depression, its weariness and the adulterated wariness that come with recognizing the heart of darkness within a life’s landmarks, standing silent and consumed as if with the enormity of an unremembered crime.

The world, then, is a thing observed and reflected on as an extension of the wanderer’s emotional state, rather than as something which can be either objectively perceived or actively engaged.  This ambiguity, a characteristic of Romantic poetry and prose, becomes an abundance for Schubert in which the rational is interpenetrated by the poetic, the present with the past; and reality by emotion, imagination, recollection.  Barbara Barry has shown that the use of major keys can be understood in terms of these loops back into memory, which bring solace by replacing temporarily the present reality of alienation and winter.  Major keys towards the end of ‘Winterreise’ are used to indicate how the distinction between past and present, between external and internal reality, have dissolved.  The wanderer sees the landscape before him entirely through the perspective of his own melancholic perceptions.

Barry argues that ‘Winterreise’ does not take place on any single level, but on many levels of time and experience.  There’s physical time, of course, marked by actions and events.  There is remembered time: the sight of an object which opens the gates of memory, as in a Proustian mémoire.  There is experiential time too, an ebb and flow of feeling.  In the end, there is inertia only.

These levels of time correspond to various levels of the journey.  A physical journey, but the psychic journey too: with its emotional swings and arbitrary associations.  Then there are what Barry calls lacunae, deviations into memory which have the intensity of hallucinations.  In the end, again, there is only dissolution: where death is awaited, but where it has not yet arrived.

The dream-time of ‘Winterreise’ is essential to its structure.  Barbara Barry suggests that the second half takes the experiences of the first and transforms them through memory.  ‘Im Dorfe’ (‘In the village’) revisits the place abandoned in ‘Gute Nacht’.  The angry bite of ‘Mut’ takes the place of Frülingstraum‘s naive reminiscence.  ‘Leitze Hoffnung’ (‘A last hope’) expresses the lowest ebb of grief, but at least it has the fight left in it for that: its counterpart, ‘Der Leiermann’ seems to inhabit the Ninth Circle of Danté’s hell, whose inmates lie forever in ice.

Yet the fate of the wanderer is not sealed.  His final question is to the organ-grinder: ‘Strange old man, shall I go with you?  Will you grind your organ to my singing?’  It is Schubert’s destiny too to be a musician, his means of survival in a hostile world.  In the writing of E T A Hoffmann, fellow musicians recognize each other without words.  Secret bonds (‘geheimes Beziehungen’) unite them in shared experience.  For Müller too, the musician is the highest common factor of universalised human experience: master of his future, choosing his own lonely road, yet able to reach out and touch humankind.

“Winterreise”: a cycle of videos

Ian Bostridge: “WHY Winterreise?”



‘It is arguable that the richest and most productive eighteen months in our musical history is the time when Beethoven had just died, when the other nineteenth-century giants, Wagner, Verdi and Brahms, had not begun; I mean the period in which Franz Schubert wrote the Winterreise, and C major Symphony, his last three Piano Sonatas, the C major String Quintet, as well as a dozen other glorious pieces.’

 Benjamin Britten

Winterreise sets out the geography of Schubert’s world.  It brings what was always there to new heights of expression, and has implications for everything that must follow.

Always there?  From the time of ‘Erlkönig’ Schubert had juxtaposed two perspectives: the illusion of bright and beautiful desires, the reality of what was wretched, threatening, banal.  In Erlkönig a supernatural being offers soft blandishments to a terrorized child, and the demon alone is given seductive music.  The grate of Gretchen’s spinning wheel is a materialization of what is real to her.  Rückert’s ‘Dass sie hier gewesen’ (1823), concerned as so often with tragic reminiscence, prevaricates between keys until a memory of the loved one allows it to breaks through into the major.  This modulation – this spiritual as well as tonal contrast – is what helps to give Schubert’s songs their psychological depth.

But ‘Winterreise’ is something new: the product of an artistic second childhood, where superlative effect and simplicity co-exist.  What ‘Winterreise’ is about is the sorrow latent in human illusions.  The suggestion of physical movement in ‘Wegweiser’ (‘The signpost’) is grim reality, the procession to death: pure melody (‘Täuschung: Illusion’) is our capacity to experience joy in spite of the pain of loss.

How much this duality means to Schubert in his last months!  It recurs in the stoicism of the D929 Piano Trio’s slow movement: and in the anaesthetized grief of Heine’s ‘Ihr Bild’ (‘Her picture’, one of the songs gathered after Schubert’s death into ‘Schwanengesang’, D957), where imagination is all we have to console us against the desolation brought about by time.   This for Schubert is what being alive means: that residue of consciousness which registers the inconstancy of experience against its own, constant being; and its implications take us far beyond his songs.

The F minor Fantasy for four hands (D940: March 1828) is dedicated to Caroline Esterházy, the retarded aristocrat whom Schubert adored, and who was trundling her hoop round the streets of Vienna long after his death.  Its opening theme suggests the rhythm and intonation of speech, a forlorn conversation.  As David Lewin has shown, the overall quality is of the music is narrative, it evokes the landscape of ceaseless wandering familiar from the two Müller cycles.  Illusion is shattered by a plunge into the minor, as in ‘Erlkönig’, and redeemed briefly by memory.   Just as much as ‘Winterreise’, the Fantasy is haunted by a progress towards an inescapable destiny.  Schubert appropriates poetic content from his songs and transforms it into absolute music for what is surely the greatest piano duet.

Lewin revealed the techniques by which the same composer, in ‘Auf dem Flusse’ (D911 No 7), could evoke a false exterior of motion and warmth, with a frozen heart within.  Yet that is Schubert’s artistic guise, which he adopts as calculatedly as Wordsworth or Browning.  At the same time, he was planning two of his happiest pieces.  Schumann wrote in excitement of the discovery of the B flat Piano Trio (D898, 1828):

One glance at Schubert’s Trio  – and the troubles of our human existence disappear and all the world is fresh and bright again.   Yet ten years ago a Trio by Schubert passed across the face of the musical world like some angry meteor…The two works are essentially and fundamentally different.  The first movement, which, in the E flat trio, is eloquent of extreme anger and passionate longing, is here a thing of grace, intimate and virginal; the Adagio (in the E flat trio a sigh, rising to spiritual anguish) is here a blissful dream-like state, a pulsating flow of exquisitely human emotion…To sum up: the Trio in E flat is active, masculine, dramatic, while the B flat is passive, feminine, lyrical.

If in the B flat Schumann was trying to highlight both a voluptuous and ardent vulnerability at work, how right he was.  It is as fresh as most of Schubert’s music must have seemed, in a world still filled with Mozart and Beethoven.   The B flat is one of Vienna’s most quicksilver apparitions, where a gossamer lightness of texture often seems charged with brilliant sonority.  The gloss of eagerness and yearning: the impulsive gallops up and down the keyboard and exuberant asides: the martial rhythms and childlike confidences (often dissolving into each other) give it a quality beyond joy.  What I mean is that the piece has a sort of knowing innocence, and this creates a conversation between equal of special intimacy.

The happy fusion of opposites, then, makes it deftly elusive; and this is what we, as much as Schubert’s contemporaries, boil down to the myth of ‘sociability’.  Its first movement is a paraphrase of a song from 1825, ‘Des Sängers Habe’: ‘Shatter my joy in pieces, take from me all my worldly goods, yet leave me only my zither and I shall be happy and rich.’  Its final Rondo derives from the 1815 ‘Skolie’ (D306): ‘Let us, in the bright May morning, take delight in the life of the flower, before its fragrance disappears.’

The E flat Trio (D929, November 1827) certainly is more extrovert, but the theme from the Andante slow movement, when it reappears in the finale, is one of Schubert’s most gorgeous exercises in euphony.  His wish to foster a sense of wholeness from the first bar to the last is clear, and its structure is one of the most adventurous he drafted.  Difficult, perhaps,  not to be reminded of the symphonies: the Ninth’s boisterous abundance, tempered with the melodic poignancy of the ‘Unfinished’.  Perhaps the wanderer steps out a little more circumspectly this time.

But the music the public remembers most affectionately from the final twelve months are two sets of four Impromptus (D899, D935, both towards the end of 1827).  They are outpourings of song-without-words, in which mercurial asides, the sense of a hairpin-bend of changing nuance and brighter possibilities, find their place in discourses of graceful inevitability.  They are music whose candour is all the more moving for being heard through Schubert’s customary equivocation: emotion cooled or reflected from another surface, as Schubert’s music so often is.

It’s tempting to think of them as artless, but wrong.  In their lustrous sound they show Schubert’s gift in writing for the developing Viennese pianos of his day, and they are extended essays that grow out of initial impulses, generally rhythmic gestures presented in the opening bars.  The first four quietly dazzle in their daring key-relationships.  The second set exists on a bigger scale, and is more varied in structure.  The opening Impromptu of D935, in F minor, is an incarnation of flowing water, like ‘Liebesbotschaft’ (‘Love’s message’ – D957 No 1); the second is a moment of contemplation which takes flight.  The third, in B flat, is a series of sparkling variations.

Swansong, ‘Schwanengesang’, is the sentimental title given to Schubert’s last settings of Rellstab, Heine and Seidl when they were collected after his death.  They are as good as anything he wrote, but something is new: the conversational role of the piano accompaniment, which engenders new intimacy and a new, oracular depth.  ‘Frühlingssehnsucht’ (‘Longing for the Spring’, No 3) and ‘Kriegers Ahnung’ (No 2) could come respectively from ‘Die Schöne Müllerin’ and Schubert’s Ossian settings of many years before, but for these extra layers of meaning, which might be peeled back like the skin of an onion.  The order of the Heine settings is Schubert’s own, and beyond its cumulative effect there is also a chemistry by which each song affects its neighbours, as if we are digging further into the strata of a secret tragedy.

In ‘Der Atlas’ (No 8) the poet wipes his former love from his mind, only to see her portrait (‘Ihr Bild’) in a projection upon reality, coming to life and writing ‘its imprint in tears’.  In ‘Die Stadt’ (No 11) he sees her town from the water: ‘Am Meer’ (‘By the sea’, No 12) presents past consummation as a metaphor for spiritual and physical decay: in ‘Der Doppelgänger’ (No 13) the poet stands before her house and sees only his own spectral form.  The open harmonies of ‘Das Fischermädchen’ give optimism the raw brightness of a myth: the tonal compactness of ‘Am Meer’ marks the consoling sobriety of inward realisation, and the passage of time, heard after ‘Die Stadt’ with its ghostly rhythm of oars through sombre light.  ‘Am Meer’ catches the poet at the moment of redefinition, between the fading hopes of ‘Das Fischermädchen’ and a cruel kiss.  After this, the only outcome can be the terror of self-recognition.

The composer who could write such things was on the verge of a breakthrough of major stature within the history of music.  It paves the way, in his last Piano Sonatas and the String Quintet, to music not of discovery, but of self-discovery.

By the end of 1827 Schubert was slipping into the background of Viennese life, and letters addressed to simply ‘Franz Schubert, composer’ were likely to be delivered to his namesake, a local violinist.  But there was one moment when, on 26 March 1828, a large and enthusiastic audience applauded a concert of his songs and the new E Flat Trio.  Encouraged, Schubert began to plan his final instrumental masterpieces.

A lovely taste of the Schubert Piano Trios

“Der Doppelganger” (Peter Schreier)

“Schwanengesang” complete



‘Secretly, in my heart of hearts, I still hope to make something of myself, but who can do anything after Beethoven?’

Schubert to Spaun, 1815

Beethoven died in March 1827.  Schubert, always too shy to introduce himself during his idol’s lifetime, was one of the pallbearers at the funeral.

According to Johann Leopold Ebner, Schubert was once on the point of excising one of his own songs because a friend had drawn his attention to a few measures that unconsciously quoted Beethoven’s ‘Coriolan’ Overture.  The year was 1817, the music was ‘Die Forelle’, which the young composer had just finished.  ‘Schubert saw this at once, too, and wanted to destroy the song, but we would not allow it and thus we saved that glorious piece from destruction.’

A dry joke at his comrades’ expense?  A sign of artistic insecurity?  If so, why had Schubert been happy to base the opening movement of his Second Symphony on Beethoven’s First?  The relationship between the two composers is full of paradoxes.  Beethoven was from the outset the measure of all things to Schubert: a role-model, a daunting creative block, a spur, and in the end, the yardstick against which he could assess his own stature and identity.  For the truth is that, with the older man’s death, Schubert embarked upon a rivalry from which he had shrunk in the lifetime of the one whom he held in awe and reverence.

The last trilogy of Schubert’s piano sonatas (D958-60) was written in the space of one month, September 1828.  Was Schubert drawn towards making some tribute?  The first sonata of the three, in C minor, begins with a quotation from Beethoven’s thirty-two Variations in C minor, and its presence underlines Schubert’s assumption of a Beethovenian posture.  The finale of Schubert’s last sonata of all, in B flat, has many points in common with Beethoven’s quartet in the same key (Opus 130), beyond a shared and dance-like metre.  But the most intriguing parallel is still to come.

Between them Edward Cone and Charles Rosen have demonstrated that the Rondo of the A major Sonata, D959, is a homage to that of Beethoven’s piano sonata Opus 31 No 1, modelled so precisely that the act of plagiarism can only be deliberate.  The opening theme has the same contour: the pianistic figuration is the same, so is the counterpoint, the rhythm, and so is the organization.

Why?  Is the answer that Schubert’s finales caused him problems (many of his unfinished sonatas came to grief in them) and that he sought an easy solution?  Such a casual act of appropriation – dishonesty, even – does not square easily with the protest, from Schubert’s deathbed, that he was being neglected because he did not lie near Beethoven.   Neither does it account for the the systematic changes which Schubert works on his model.  Schubert’s unforced melodic expansiveness stretches his second theme out of all proportion; as Cone puts it, ‘he dwells lovingly’ on each raw element that what Beethoven has offered him, creating moments of remembrance and magic.  The stage is the same: the voice rebounds in a different world.

What is remarkable, declares Rosen, is the imitation’s lack of inhibition: the ease and confidence with which Schubert moves within his pre-ordained cage.  His structural borrowings exist on a purely formal level, as indeed a sonnet does; they are moulds into which he can pour his own inspirations.   Mahler spoke of Schubert’s ‘freedom below the surface of convention’.  There is nothing slavish in Schubert, nothing docile: his innovations are not extensions of classical style but, as Rosen has shown, completely new inventions.  Crowning everything is his discovery of the oscillation between two tonal levels to achieve a stasis in which time is redefined.  We need to return and look at this properly; but for now it’s enough to accept that Beethoven’s aims, and Schubert’s, are as different as can be.

Sketches for these last sonatas show how scrupulously, how self-critically, Schubert proceeded.  His ‘heavenly lengths’ appear obsessive only when he means them to be.   But classical forms define boundaries, and the space that Schubert needs in order to move freely has little to do with classical definitions.  In the first movement of the D958 Sonata he lingers on harmonic riches and then goads them into developments on a symphonic scale: apparent asides are grappled with and made part of a process of melodic evolution which anticipates Berlioz, Liszt, Tchaikovsky: in the finale, modulations pile on each other with a velocity that had not been conceivable before.  If there is any Beethoven left in this, it is Beethoven reduced to a pathology, and steeped in the atrocities of Goya.

As Alfred Brendel argues, ‘Schubert relates to Beethoven, he reacts to him, but he follows him hardly at all.  Models are concealed, transformed, surpassed.’  For Schubert classicism means music for music’s sake: empowered by its own tensions, its discipline and resources, existing for itself.  In that sense, he becomes a more classical composer – not less – as he matures.  But this is classicism of what might be called a quietly apocalyptic kind.  Brendel continues, ‘Order, even when only an adornment through which the chaos of emotion shines, is decisive because it makes the work of art possible.’  For Schubert classical form is a shadowy life-in-death, a decorum which – like the signpost in ‘Winterreise’ – marks the direction of a solitary agenda.

Rosen suggests that, with the finale of the A major Sonata, Schubert produces a work ‘that is unquestionably greater than its model.’  I think we may be a little unfair to Beethoven, who mischievously diverted the formalities of what his audience took for granted in order to create what has been called the first neo-classical sonata.  Yet it is also time for us to celebrate Schubert’s essential indeterminacy not as an intimation of weakness, but as (quite as much as in ‘Schwanengesang’) the language of music’s first truly modern artist.

The last piano sonatas stand as a family, marked off by their poetry and grandeur of conception: the first of them terse, the second a ballade-like web of sound and movement in an ethereal form, the last of the three serene and tinged with yearning.  Their progression of keys too corresponds to a kind of perfect cadence, a psychological progress into resignation and light.  More puzzling than the imprint of Beethoven is the profusion of self-quotations and allusions.  In the A major work the theme of the finale is lifted from the Allegretto of the A minor Sonata (D537) of 1817, now given the lilting gentleness of ‘Im Frühling’ (D882).  The Andantino is related to ‘Pilgerweise’ (D789) of 1823.  In the C minor, the theme of the Menuetto mimics the Presto vivace of an early quartet, D18: the first movement draws material from ‘Kriegers Ahnung’ and ‘Der Atlas’ (D957), which are its contemporaries.  More puzzling still is the opening of Schubert’s 1814 setting of the cathedral scene from ‘Faust’ (D126), which reappears in the bass line for the first movement development of the B flat Sonata.  In the Goethe setting, Gretchen is taunted by the Devil to the strains of a Dies Irae; and the main theme of the sonata’s Molto moderato quotes a second episode in which the choir sings ‘Quid sum miser tum dicturus.’  The significance of these clandestine codes is unknown, but their presence surely contributes to the trilogy’s status as a summation of Schubert’s work.

Above all the D958 sonata serves as a quarry of material to be used throughout its successors.  The little motif of a sixth and its descending scale we have already noticed: it crops up again in the B flat Sonata, and in both the Andantino and Scherzo of the A major, where it adds to a sense of family kinship, ambivalence, and ultimately bliss.  Many other bonds – including a use of chromaticism more audacious and questioning even than Mozart’s – alternately pull the three together, and wrench them apart.  Most memorable, for me, are the simple bass octaves of the A major and B flat: at first a call to arms, then something as fine as a delicately plucked cello, and at last (in the slow movement of D960) as the heart of music which draws us to the still point of a turning world.  One realises that Schubert then has no need of harmonic movement, or dynamism of any kind.  He floats like a diver through an almost silent realm: playing off tonalities to generate anticipation, making the inevitable into something for us to marvel at, as if it had been reborn.

Comparison between Schubert’s sketches and his first drafts for these sonatas reveals a change in his perception of musical space.  The music begins to breathe, details start to tell, minutiae achieve the suspense and scale of immensities.  The sonata becomes a work of self-realization, in which free imagining allows each impulse to find its own shape and motives.   This inspired Dieter Schnebel to speak, in his Schubert essay ‘Suche nach der befreiten Zeit’, of a ‘search for liberated time’.  Time is dreamlike, giving room moment by moment to wildly differing frames of reference, without the need for conclusive catharsis.

To Schubert the trilogy represented his ‘three great sonatas’, as if to disown everything that had gone before.  Schumann was nonplussed by them, and especially by the last, which had been dedicated to him by Diabelli after its composer’s death.  He finds it

…remarkable enough, impressive in a different way from his others, by virtue of a much greater simplicity of invention (where elsewhere he makes such high demands) and by the spinning out of certain general musical ideas, instead of linking episode to episode with new threads, as he does elsewhere.  Thus it ripples along from side to side, always lyrical, never at a loss for what is to come next, as if it could never come to an end.  Here and there the even flow is broken by occasional spasms of a more violent kind, which however pass quickly.  If my imagination seems, in this assessment, to be coloured by the idea of his illness, I must leave the matter to calmer judgment.


Well, the D960 Sonata is to music what The Tempest is to plays.  It is both the most wonderful and the most tantalizing piano piece that Schubert wrote.  It is a cipher upon glass, with something of glass’s prismatic quality; a shining eloquence which seems at the same time direct, fickle and unfathomable, capable of assuming whatever significance a virtuoso might impose upon it.   Its Andante sostenuto has the numinous quality of a waking dream, which is shares with the Adagio of the C major Quintet: composure within weightless stillness, as if a seamless yet infinitely mutable line of awareness were somehow able to glide through an atmosphere of suspended half-light.  The mercurial Scherzo is conceived as a series of dialogues, teasing and supremely adroit: the finale measures itself against Beethoven’s Grosse Fugue.  Here, and only here, is there pathos: the major key struggles to assert itself again and again, storms descend out of silence, only to disperse with the evanescence of Titania’s moonbeams.   Developments spark into unexpected keys, embark on capricious journeys; at last, within the space of a page, all is made good.  I cannot beat Tovey:  ‘Schubert’s tonality is as wonderful as star-clusters, and a verbal description of it is as dull as astronomical tables.’  No composer was ever more intimate, or more remote, than this.

Schubert came to the sonatas fresh from his chamber masterpiece, the D956 Quintet.  It is, remarked Thomas Mann, the music one should listen to on one’s deathbed; and something rich and strange.  Schubert knew that with Beethoven’s death there was an inheritance to be gained, and he forges a structure of such splendour that it takes the known boundaries of a genre and shakes them apart.

The addition of an extra cello (not the customary viola) darkens its tonal palette and permits melting dialogues, confidences seemingly charged with the calm power of the night.  Rarely has the key of C major, emblem for the Enlightenment of magnificent certitude, been so richly compromised or made so fertile in its overtones.  A wavering opening chord is instantly questioned: it falls within a few phrases into D minor, yet for the second subject a glide of a major third (from G to E flat) opens up a new horizon of voluptuous ease.  Schubert’s command of juxtaposed light and shade is at its most impressive.  The quintet is a work of burgeoning vitality, where expectation and almost ruthless mastery of form are played off against each other with a daunting economy of gesture.

Its slow movement is about transfigured and luminous memory, unfolding at the pace of a human heart: a consciousness which itself lies beyond emotion, in which the fragments of remembered emotion skim past with the ephemerality of shredded cloud.  At the movement’s close the vast harmonic space between its two key centres (E flat, and the F minor of an anguished inner episode) is distilled into two bars, and resolved.

The Scherzo pits a boisterous hunting theme against a phantasm which is as aloof as anything from ‘Winterreise’.  In the finale the grotesque is the veil of a suave deception: for Schubert takes the affability of Viennese salon music, gives it Beethovenian cut-and-thrust, and ends with defiance in the minor.  The consequence is a challenge to us which demands new meaning, as the grotesque always is; and as ever with Schubert, the illusion of sunshine is more telling because its origins lie in an awareness of the dark.

Adagio: String Quintet in C (Alban Berg Quartet)

Alfred Brendel: Andante sostenuto, D960


Robert Schumann


‘May this surviving work be a cherished legacy for us.  However many things of beauty time may yet bring forth, it will not soon produce another Schubert.’

Robert Schumann on the B flat Piano Trio, 1836

Weeks after giving the first performance of his final piano sonatas, Schubert was dead.   His old headaches had been back, but he was brimming with plans.  Impressed by an edition of Handel, he decided to strengthen his grasp of counterpoint and visited a famous teacher, Simon Sechter.   He was sketching a Tenth Symphony, through-composed, whose slow movement anticipates the sound-world of Mahler’s Ninth.  He had no idea that anything might be amiss.

Only those things he had learnt to live with.  In October he was too queasy to visit Budapest for a concert of his songs.  But at the end of the month he visited his old haunt, the tavern Rotes Kreuz, and was nauseated; it was if the fish had been poisoned.  On 12 November he wrote from his bed in Ferdinand’s cramped flat,

Dear Schober

I am ill.  I have had nothing to eat or drink for five days now, and can only wander feebly and uncertainly between my armchair and bed.  Rinna is treating me.  If I take any food, I bring it up at once.

Please be so good, then, as to come to my aid in this desperate condition with something to read.  I have read Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans, The Spy, The Pilot and The Pioneers

It was his final letter.  By the 17th he was delirious, violently so on the 18th.  He was unconscious the next day until three in the afternoon, when he turned his head to the wall and whispered, ‘Here, here is my end.’

On 21 November Schubert’s body was carried to St Joseph’s Church in the Margareten.   It was a respectably well-attended funeral, despite the drizzle: and it was Second Class, the best his family could afford.  Sechter provided a fugue.  The choir sang Schubert’s ‘Pax Vobiscum’, and the bier was carried to the Währing Cemetery where his coffin was lowered into the grave.  His wish to be buried near Beethoven had been honoured.

As a man Schubert disappointed many people who sought him out in order to venerate, like the  young miller, a fantasy of their own imagining.  Those who knew him spoke of a modest, reticent, gently humorous nature, only truly at ease amongst friends, awkward or blunt with strangers.    Mayrhofer was typically forthright: ‘His character was a mixture of tenderness and coarseness, sensuality and candour, sociability and melancholy’.  Friends asked to describe his appearance compared him to a drunken cabby with tobacco-stained teeth.  He died at 31, the age by which Beethoven and Mahler had finished their first symphonies.  Grillparzer, asked for an epitaph, at first responded that ‘he made poetry sing and music speak.’   The inscription eventually chosen to be carved on Schubert’s tomb reads,

The Art of Music

Here Entombed a  

Rich  Possession

But Even Fairer Hopes.

*         *         *

In 1822, shortly before returning to his family home, Schubert had written  an allegory entitled My Dream.  The manuscript survives, and Maynard Solomon has attempted psychoanalysis:

I was the brother of many brothers and sisters.  Our father and our mother were good.  I was devoted to them all with a deep love.  Once, my father took us to a feast.  There my brothers became very merry.  But I was sad.  My father approached me and commanded me to enjoy the delicious food.  But I could not, whereupon my father, becoming angry, banished me from his sight.  I turned my steps away and, my heart full of infinite love for those who disdained it, I wandered into a distant land.  For long years I felt torn between the greatest grief and the greatest love.  Then news of my mother’s death reached me.  I hurried to see her, and my father, softened by sorrow, did not hinder my entrance.  I saw her corpse.  Tears poured from my eyes.  I saw her lying there as in the happy past, in which, according to the deceased’s wish, we were to live as she herself once had.

We followed her corpse in sorrow and the coffin sank down.  From that time on I again stayed at home.  Then my father took me once more into his favourite garden.  He asked me if I liked it.  But the garden was wholly repellent to me and I dared not say so.  Then, flushing, he asked me a second time: did the garden please me?  Trembling, I denied it.  Then my father struck me and I fled.  And for the second time I turned my steps away and, with a heart full of infinite love for those who had disdained it, I again wandered into a distant land.  For long, long years I sang songs.  When I would sing of love, it turned to pain.  And again, when I sang of pain, it would turn to love.

 Thus love and pain divided me.

 And once, I had news of a pious virgin who had just died.  Around her tomb formed a circle in which many youths and old men perpetually walked as though in bliss.  They spoke softly, so as not to wake the virgin.

 Heavenly thoughts seemed forever to be showered upon the youths from the virgin’s tomb.  I too longed to walk there.  But only a miracle, people said, leads into this circle.  Nevertheless I went to the tomb, with slow steps and lowered gaze, filled with devotion and firm belief; and, before I was aware of it, I found myself in the circle, from which there arose a wonderfully lovely sound; and I felt as though eternal bliss were compressed into a single moment.  My father, too, I was, reconciled and loving.  He clasped me in his arms and wept.  But not as much as I did.

With his mother’s death on 28 May 1812, Schubert’s composing came to a halt.  A month later, he began the frenetic activity which lasted until the end of his life.  In Freudian terms, her removal from the living delivered him from female temptation.  Her death and his flight became equivalent events: the years of exile standing for social annihilation, the grave for mother’s bed, and both images woven (as in Ernest Jones’s 1951 analysis of ‘dying together’) into ‘a voyage of discovery, as a journey to a land where hidden things will be revealed.’

Schubert in his last year said, ‘It sometimes seems to me as if I did not belong to this world at all.’  Both as an artist and a man, he treasured his singularity, his creativity, his divergence from a stifling and obscurantist official culture.  In November 1822, he inscribed Goethe’s words in the album of a friend:

                                   One thing will not do for all

                                    Let each live in his tradition

                                    Each consider his own mission,

                                    And who stands, beware a fall.

‘Give me your hand’ says Death in ‘Der Tod und das Mädchen’.  ‘I am a friend, and I do not come to punish you.’  Schubert is an inhabitant of that dim shore where, writes the poet of ‘Gruppe aus dem Tartarus’,

…neither sun nor stars shine, where no song is heard, where no friend is to be found.  Oblivion breathes an air of peace that is heavy with death.

‘It seems’ proposes Einstein, ‘as if a poem of this kind was the direct result of a conversation between Schubert and his friends, and had immediately been set to music by him.’

His creative animus is, as much as his parable, penetrated by pain and love.  His lifelong rebellion against the circle ‘in which youths and old men perpetually walk’ is tempered by his need for a brotherhood to whom he can belong, even submit, on the long road towards knowledge and the void beyond.   Schubert was a misfit in his society, who yearned for an era when his mother was alive and emotion was clean.  His music, to quote Solomon once more, is his defence of beauty against the wasting effects of reality.

Solti’s “Great C major”

String Quartet No 15 in G Major, D 887: I. Allegro molto moderato



Six months after the funeral, the Vienna correspondent of the London Harmonicon found space to report:

Franz Schubert, the talented and well-known composer, lately died…As proof of his industry, and of the hopes he had formed of acquiring renown in the different departments of his art, we may mention that among his papers were found twelve grand operas, five operettas, eight masses, ten symphonies, besides several sonatas, quatuors, and above two hundred songs.   On the occasion of his funeral a new Requiem by Anselm Hüttenbrenner was produced, the music of which is full of striking effects: the mournful impact of the words and the liveliness of the sounds are at open war with each other.

The official inventory of Schubert’s remains was more commonplace:

3 cloth coats, 3 frock coats, 10 pairs of trousers, 9 waistcoats, 1 hat, 5 pairs of shoes, 2 pairs of boots, 4 shirts, 6 neckerchiefs and pocket handkerchiefs.  13 pairs of socks, 1 sheet, 2 blankets, 1 mattress, 1 featherbed cover, 1 counterpane.


Apart from some old music…no belongings of the deceased are to be found.

His loyal, mundane friends, dimly conscious that they had lost something greater than they could have known, began the process of elaboration that would elevate Schubert’s companionship into a fairy-tale, replete with love-stricken sighs and fanciful meetings with Beethoven.  The public was harder to convince.  Almost five hundred of his compositions had been published, and he’d earned from them as much as a telephonist might earn in one year today.  Schubert’s lowly origins, the humiliations he had suffered from his youth, the shame of constant rejection and needy circumstances, his lack of instrumental virtuosity: these contributed to a gaucheness which inhibited him in any enterprise.   He had sold Diabelli a group of compositions for 300 florins the set, only for Ignaz Sonnleithner to prove that a shrewd salesman could command 200 florins apiece on his behalf, and more.  If any person’s worth is measured by the money he expects, Schubert gave Vienna the verdict it could use against him.  The music of the Schubertiads had too rarely penetrated beyond a closed circle, and it was left to those who had heard it there to plead the composer’s case after his death.  Already manuscripts were hopelessly scattered.

Ferdinand was indefatigable in promoting his brother’s work: advertising for lost cantatas, contacting those composers amongst whom rumours of Schubert’s gift was beginning to spread.  Liszt acclaimed Schubert as ‘the most poetic musician who has lived’ and did his best to help, playing eloquent transcriptions of unknown songs to his Society audiences.  The turning point for non-vocal music came on New Year’s Day 1839, when Schumann was shown the contents of a polished black chest.  ‘The riches that lay here piled up made me tremble with pleasure.  Where to begin, where to stop?’  Within were Schubert’s surviving manuscripts, and Schumann grasped the autograph of the D944 symphony.  ‘How refreshing is this feeling of overflowing wealth!  With others we always tremble for the conclusion and we are troubled lest we find ourselves disappointed.’  But this?  ‘It transports us into a world where I cannot recall ever having been before.’

The violinists of the Leipzig Gewandhaus orchestra baulked at their role as accompanists to the woodwind in the symphony’s finale, but Mendelssohn persevered and conducted its premiere, in a shortened version, on 29 March.  The Vienna Philharmonic played two movements only, and in 1844 The London Philharmonic Society laughed it out of court.   Elsewhere opinions were changing.

Throughout the nineteenth century Europe and New York witnessed a spate of discoveries.   In 1839 The Musical World of London commented: ‘All Paris has been in a state of amazement at the posthumous diligence of the song-writer F Schubert’.  As late as 1862 Brahms’s colleague Hanslick wrote in Vienna, ‘The master has been dead for thirty years, and yet it is as if he continued to work invisibly – one can hardly keep up with him.’  The Octet and several quartets were about to be performed for the first time.  In 1883 a collected edition of Schubert’s music appeared, and in 1885 Brahms (having worked doggedly as editor of the symphonies) urged a young Richard Strauss to study Schubert’s dances.  Sixty years later, during Metamorphosen, Strauss acknowledged a debt in his sketch book: ‘Lucky Schubert, who could compose what he wanted, whatever his genius made him do.’  It was to the word an echo of Salieri’s verdict when, in 1821, he had seen the rough draft of Gretchen.

The rest has been a matter of time.  Schubert’s songs became favourites in the earliest days of the gramophone, and the vintage performances of Elizabeth Schumann – hiss, crackles, warts and all – celebrate a level of spontaneity from which glossy sopranos still have volumes to learn.  Pablo Casals knew Schubert was special for him, and to celebrate the centenary in 1928 he embarked on the symphonies with his orchestra in Barcelona.  In 1941 Toscanini conducted a Philadelphia performance of the Great C major which the critic Spike Hughes described as ‘legendary’ in its confidence and bubbling excitement.  It was left to Artur Schnabel and Thomas Beecham to champion the piano sonatas and early symphonies through records and broadcasts.  This takes us beyond the Second World War.

John Reed has described Schubert’s distinction in terms of its felicity:

Schubert himself once wrote a song called ‘Seligkeit’ (‘Happiness’, D433), a gay and unsophisticated little piece untroubled by thoughts of time and change.  Felicity conveys much more than this; it is happiness muted by the sense of inevitable loss, of a harmony still within reach of our imagination, like the image of ancient rites on a Greek vase.

All this is true, yet it is in danger of reducing a robust and urgent force to nostalgia.  Like Beethoven, Schubert recognized in himself ‘the most miserable of men’, and he was right to perceive his life as that of a nomad in a private domain.  Yet it was a prospect that in his last year  had sights set resolutely on the future.

In his own appraisal Alfred Einstein speaks of a composer who follows,

…unreservedly and without heed a single impulse – to create; and who in his music finds – partly of his own free will and partly out of sheer necessity – the only means of meeting the challenge of human existence.  But he is not a typical Romantic like all the other composers who came into the world during the twenty years which followed his birth.  He is without spiritual discord; he still has the courage to express the full sensuousness and richness of life.  He is a Romantic Classicist and belongs in the great company of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven.  He left no successors.  The feeling that he inspires in later ages is an infinite longing for a lost paradise of purity, spontaneity and innocence.

A comfortable tribute, and it misses the self-scrutiny that underpins this passionate conviction of a creative voice.  Grasp that, and you have what makes Schubert our contemporary.   If knowledge is the mirror that makes us human, if art provides the reflexiveness that makes possible our changing conception of self, the vision Schubert has for us remains compelling, far-reaching and humane.

© COPYRIGHT 1996 Stephen Jackson

Elizabeth Schwarzkopf: “Auf dem Wasser zu Singen”


Artur Schnabel

Original Caption: Sir Thomas Beecham (1879-1961), English conductor and impresario. Undated photograph. BPA2# 793
Sir Thomas Beecham (1879-1961), English conductor and impresario.


There are hundreds of books and articles on Schubert, but these are some of the best.  The easiest introduction is Maurice Brown’s.  Capell and Einstein are classics which have not lost their special insights over the years, whilst 19th Century Music (a scholarly journal, but often accessible) gives a taste of the latest thinking in Schubert research.

Maurice J E Brown, The New Grove Schubert (Macmillan, 1982)

Richard Capell, Schubert’s Songs (Gerald Duckworth, revised edition 1957)

edited Otto Erich Deutsch, Schubert: Memoirs by his Friends (Adam and Charles Black, 1958)

Alfred Einstein, Schubert: the Man and his Music (Cassell, 1951)

edited Walter Frisch, Schubert: Critical and Analytical Studies (University of Nebraska Press, 1986)

Franz Gal, Schubert and the Essence of Melody (Victor Gollancz, 1974)

George Marek, Schubert (Robert Hale, 1986)

Brian Newbould, Schubert and the Symphony: A New Perspective (Toccata Press, 1992)

Charles Osborne, Schubert and his Vienna (Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1985)

Philip RadcliffeSchubert Piano Sonatas (BBC Music Guides, 1967)

John Reed, Schubert: The Final Years (Faber and Faber, 1972)

Joseph Wechsburg, Schubert: His Life, His Time (Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1977)

J A Westrup, Schubert Chamber Music (BBC Music Guides, 1969)

translated Richard Wigmore, Schubert: The Complete Song Texts (Victor Gollancz, 1992)

Valuable references

Alfred Brendel, Music Sounded Out (Robson Books, 1990)

Charles Rosen, Sonata Forms revised edition (W W Norton, 1988)

The Romantic Generation (Harper Collins, 1995)

D F Tovey,       Essays and Lectures on Music (Oxford University Press, 1949)

University of California: 19th Century Music 1977 onwards (academic periodical and source of many articles by Solomon, Youens, Cone, Kramer and others: some of them reproduced in Frisch)

Clifford Curzon: Impromptu in A flat, D935 No 2



This draws on Otto Eric Deutsch’s Schubert: A Thematic Catalogue of All His Works (1951, 1979) which gave us our modern classification by Deutsch (D) numbers.  Here D number is given first, followed by the name of the poet set (in the case of songs) and finally, the year of composition.



1A        Song sketch                                          (no text)                                               1810

5          Hagars Klage                                        Schückling                                           1811

6          Des Mädchens Klage (1)                       Schiller                                                 1811

7          Leichenfantaise                                    Schiller                                                 1811

10        Des Vatermörder                                   Pfeffel                                                  1811

15        Der Geistertanz                                     Matthisson                                           1812

17        Quell’ innocente figlio                           Metastasio                                            1812

23        Klaglied                                                Rochlitz                                               1812

30        Der Jüngling am Bache                         Schiller                                                 1812

33        Entra l’uomo allor che nasce                  Metastasio                                            1812

35        Serbate, o dei custodi (3)                       Metastasio                                            1812

39        Lebenstraum                                        Baumberg                                 1810 or 1812

42        Misero Pargoletto                                  Metastasio                                            1813

44        Totengräberlied                                     Hölty                                                    1813

50        Die Schatten                                         Matthisson                                           1813

52        Sehnsucht                                            Schiller                                                 1813

59        Verklärung                                           Pope                                                     1813

73        Thekla: eine Geisterstimme                   Schiller                                                 1813

76        Pensa, che questo istante                      Metastasio                                            1813

77        Der Taucher                                         Schiller                                                 1813-14

78        Sonfra l’onde                                        Metastasio                                            1813

81        Auf den Sieg der Deutschen                  ?Schubert                                             1813

83        Zur Namensfeier des Herrn Andras        Siller                                                               1813

93        Don Gayseros                                       de la Motte                                           1815

95        Adelaide                                               Matthisson                                           1814

97        Trost: an Elisa                                      Matthisson                                           1814

98        Errinerungen (1)                                   Matthisson                                           1814

99        Andenken                                             Matthisson                                           1814

100       Geisternähe                                          Matthisson                                           1814

101       Errinerung                                            Matthisson                                           1814

102       Die Betende                                          Matthisson                                           1814

104       Die Befreier Europas in Paris                 Mikan                                                  1814

107       Lied aus der Ferne                                Matthisson                                           1814

108       Der Abend                                            Matthisson                                           1814

109       Lied der Liebe                                       Matthisson                                           1814

111       Der Taucher                                         Schiller                                                 1814

113       An Emma                                             Schiller                                                 1814

114       Romanze                                              Matthisson                                           1814

115       An Laura, als sie Klopstocks                 Matthisson                                           1814

116       Der Geistertanz                                     Matthisson                                           1814

117       Das Mädchen aus der Fremde                Schiller                                                 1814

118       Gretchen am Spinnrade                         Goethe                                                 1814

119       Nachtgesang                                         Goethe                                                 1814

120       Trost in Tränen                                     Goethe                                                 1814

121       Schäfers Klagelied                                Goethe                                                 1814

122       Ammenlied                                          Lubi                                                     1814

123       Sehsnucht                                            Goethe                                                 1814

124       Am See                                                            Mayrhofer                                            1814

126       Szene aus Goethes Faust                       Goethe                                                 1814

134       Ballade                                                 J Kenner                                               1815

138       Rastlose Liebe                                      Goethe                                                 1815

141       Der Mondabend                                    Kumpf                                                 1815

142       Geistes-Gruss                                       Goethe                                                 1815

143       Genügsamkeit                                      Schober                                                1815

144       Romanze                                              Stolberg                                                1816

149       Der Sänger                                           Goethe                                                 1815

150       Lodas Gespenst                                     Ossian                                                  1816

151       Auf einen Krichhof                               Schlechta                                             1815

152       Minona                                                Bertrand                                               1815

153       Als ich sie erröten sah                           Ehrlich                                                 1815

153       Das Bild                                                                                                                       1815

159       Die Erwartung                                      Schiller                                                 1816

160       Am Flusse                                            Goethe                                                 1815

161       Am Mignon                                          Goethe                                                 1815

162       Nähe des Geliebten                               Goethe                                                 1815

163       Sängers Morgenlied                              Körner                                                  1815

164       Liebesrausch                                         Körner                                                  1815

165       Sängers Morgenlied                              Körner                                                  1815

166       Amphiaraos                                          Körner                                                  1815

169       Trinklied vor der Schlacht                     Körner                                                  1815

170       Schwertlied                                          Körner                                                  1815

172       Der Morgenstern                                   Körner                                                  1815

174       Das war ich                                          Körner                                                  1815

176       Die Sterne                                            Fellinger                                               1815

177       Vergebliche Liebe                                 Bernard                                                            1815

179       Liebesrausch                                         Körner                                                  1815

180       Sehnsucht der Liebe                             Körner                                                  1815

182       Die erste Liebe                                      Fellinger                                               1815

183       Trinklied, with chorus                           Zettler                                                  1815

186       Die Sterbende                                       Matthisson                                           1815

187       Stimme der Liebe                                 Matthisson                                           1815

188       Naturgenuss                                         Matthisson                                           1815

189       An die Freude, with chorus                   Schiller                                                 1815

191       Des Mädchens Klage                             Schiller                                                 1815

192       Der Jüngling am Bache                         Schiller                                                 1815

193       An den Mond                                       Hölty                                                    1815

194       Die Mainacht                                        Hölty                                                    1815

195       Amalia                                                 Schiller                                                 1815

196       An die Nachtigall                                  Hölty                                                    1815

197       An die Apfelbäume                               Hölty                                                    1815

198       Seufzer                                                 Hölty                                                    1815

201       Auf den Tod einer Nachtigall                Hölty                                                    1815

204       Das Traumbild                                      (lost)                                                    1815

206       Liebeständelei                                       Körner                                                  1815

207       Der Liebende                                        Hölty                                                    1815

208       Die Nonne                                            Hölty                                                    1815

209       Der Liedler                                           Kenner                                                 1815

210       Die Liebe                                              Goethe                                                 1815

211       Adelwold und Emma                            Bertrand                                               1815

212       Die Nonne (obs. Deutsch number)        Hölty                                                    1815

213       Der Traum                                            Hölty                                                    1815

214       Die Laube                                             Hölty                                                    1815

215a     Meerestille (1)                                      Goethe                                                 1815

216       Meerestille (2)                                      Goethe                                                 1815

217       Kolmas Klage                                       Ossian                                                  1815

218       Grablied                                               Kenner                                                 1815

219       Das Finden                                           Kosegarten                                           1815

221       Der Abend                                            Hölty                                                    1815

222       Lieb Minna                                           Stadler                                                  1815

224       Wandrers Nachtlied                              Goethe                                                 1815

225       Der Fischer                                           Goethe                                                 1815

226       Werster Verlust                                    Goethe                                                 1815

227       Idens Nachtgesgang                              Kosegarten                                           1815

228       Von Ida                                                            Kosegarten                                           1815

229       Die Erscheinung                                   Kosegarten                                           1815

230       Der Täuschung                                     Kosegarten                                           1815

231       Das Sehnen                                          Kosegarten                                           1815

233       Geist derLiebe                                      Kosegarten                                           1815

234       Tischlied                                              Goethe                                                 1815

235       Abends unter der Linde (1)                   Kosegarten                                           1815

237       Abends unter der Linde (2)                   Kosegarten                                           1815

238       Die Mondnacht                                     Kosegarten                                           1815

240       Huldigung                                            Kosegarten                                           1815

241       Alles um Liebe                                     Kosegarten                                           1815

245       An den Frühling                                   Schiller                                                 1815

246       Die Bürgeschaft                                                Schiller                                                 1815

247       Die Spinnerin                                       Goethe                                                 1815

248       Lob des Tokayers                                  Baumberg                                             1815

250       Das Geheimnis                                     Schiller                                                 1815

251       Hoffnung                                             Schiller                                                 1815

252       Das Mädchen aus dem Fremde              Schiller                                                 1815

253       Punschlied: im Norden zu singen          Schiller                                                 1815

254       Der Gott und der Bajadere                     Goethe                                                 1815

255       Der Rattenfänger                                  Goethe                                                 1815

256       Der Schatzgräber                                  Goethe                                                 1815

257       Heinröslein                                           Goethe                                                 1815

258       Bundeslied                                           Goethe                                                 1815

259       An den Mond                                       Goethe                                                 1815

260       Wonne der Wehmut                             Goethe                                                 1815

261       Wer kauft Liebesgötter?                                   Goethe                                                 1815

262       Die Fröhlichkeit                                                Prandstetter                                          1815

263       Cora an die Sonne                                 Baumberg                                             1815

264       Der Morgenkuss                                   Baumberg                                             1815

265       Abendstänchen: An Lina                      Baumberg                                             1815

266       Morgenlied                                           Stolberg                                                1815

270       an die Sonne                                         Baumberg                                             1815

271       Der Weiberfreund                                 Cowley                                                 1815

272       An die Sonne                                        Tiedge                                                  1815

273       Lilla an die Morgenröte                                                                                                 1815

274       Tischerlied                                                                                                                    1815

275       Totenkranz für ein Kind                                    Matthisson                                           1815

276       Abendlied                                             Stolberg                                                1815

278       Ossians Lied                                         Ossian                                                  1815

280       Das Rosenband                                     Klopstock                                             1815

281       Das Mädchen von Inistore                     Ossian                                                  1815

282       Cronnan                                               Ossian                                                  1815

283       An die Frühling                                                Schiller                                                 1815

284       Lied                                                     ?Schiller                                               1815

285       Furcht der Geliebten                             Klopstock                                             1815

286       Selma und Selmar                                 Klopstock                                             1815

287       Vaterlandslied                                       Klopstock                                             1815

288       An Sie                                                  Klopstock                                             1815

289       Die Sommernacht                                 Klopstock                                             1815

290       Die frühen Gräber                                 Klopstock                                             1815

291       Dem Unendlichen                                 Klopstock                                             1815

292       Klage                                                   (see D371)                                            1815

293       Shilric und Vinvela                               Ossian                                                  1815

295       Hoffnung                                             Goethe                                                 1815

296       An den Mond                                       Goethe                                                 ?1816

297       Augenlied                                             Mayrhofer                                            ?1817

298       Liane                                                    Mayrhofer                                            1815

300       Der Jüngling an der Quelle                    Salis-Seewis                                          1815

301       Lambertine                                           Stoll                                                     1815

302       Labetrank der Liebe                              Stoll                                                     1815

303       An die Geliebte                                     Stoll                                                     1815

304       Wiegenlied                                           Körner                                                  1815

305       Mein Gruss an den Mai                         Kumpf                                                 1815

306       Skolie                                                   Deinhardstein                                       1815

307       Die Sternewelten                                  Jarnik                                                   1815

308       Die Macht der Liebe                             Kalchberg                                             1815

309       Das gesttörte Glück                              Körner                                                  1815

310       Sehnsucht                                            Goethe                                                 1815

311       An den Mond                                                                                                               1815

312       Hektors Abschied                                  Schiller                                                 1815

313       Die Sterne                                            Kosegarten                                           1815

314       Nachtgesang                                         Kosegarten                                           1815

315       An Rosa I                                             Kosegarten                                           1815

316       An Rosa II                                            Kosegarten                                           1815

317       Idens Schwanenlied                              Kosegarten                                           1815

318       Schwanengesang                                  Kosegarten                                           1815

319       Luisens Antwort                                   Kosegarten                                           1815

320       Der Zufriedene                                     Reissig                                                 1815

321       Mignon                                                            Goethe                                                 1815

322       Mignon                                                            Goethe                                                 1815

323       Klage der Ceres                                     Schiller                                                 1815

325       Harfenspieler                                        Goethe                                                 1815

327       Lorma (I)                                              Ossian                                                  1815

328       Erlkönig                                               Goethe                                                 1815

329       Die drei Sänger                                     Bobrik                                                  1815

330       Das Grab                                              Salis-Seewis                                          1815

342       An mein Klavier                                   Schubart                                               1816

343       Am Tage aller Seelen                            Jacobi                                                   1816

344       Am ersten Maimorgen                          Claudius                                               1816

350       Der Enterfernten (2)                             Salis-Seewis                                          1816

351       Fischerlied (1)                                       Salis-Seewis                                          1816

352       Licht und Liebe                                                Collin                                                   1816

358       Die Nacht                                             Uz                                                        1816

359       Sehnsucht                                            Goethe                                                 1816

360       Lied eines Schiffers an die Dioskuren    Mayrhofer                                            1816

361       Am Bach im Frühlinge                         Schober                                                1816

362       Zufriedenheit                                        Claudius                                               1816

363       An Chloen                                            Uz                                                        1816

367       Der König in Thule                               Goethe                                                 1816

368       Jägers Abendlied                                   Goethe                                                 1816

369       An Schwager Kronos                            Goethe                                                 1816

371       Klage                                                                                                               1816

372       An die Natur                                        Stolberg-Stolberg                                  1816

373       Lied                                                     Fourqué                                                1816

375       Der Tod Oskars                                     Ossian                                                  1816

376       Lorma (2)                                             Ossian                                                  1816

381       Morgenlied                                                                                                       1816

382       Abendlied                                                                                                         1816

388       Laura am Klavier                                  Schiller                                                 1816

389       Des Mädchens Klage                             Schiller                                                 1816

390       Entzückung an Laura                            Schiller                                                 1816

391       Die vier Weltalter                                 Schiller                                                 1816

392       Pfügerlied                                             Salis-Seewis                                          1816

393       Die Einsiedelei (2)                                Salis-Seewis                                          1816

394       An die Harmonie                                  Salis-Seewis                                          1816

395       Lebensmelodien                                    Schlegel                                               1816

396       Gruppe aus dem Tartarus                      Schiller                                                 1816

397       Ritter Toggenburg                                Schiller                                                 1816

398       Frühlingslied                                        Hölty                                                    1816

399       Auf den Tod einer Nachtigall (2)           Hölty                                                    1816

400       Die Knabenzeit                                     Hölty                                                    1816

401       Winterlied                                            Hölty                                                    1816

402       Der Flüchtling                                      Schiller                                                 1816

403       Lied                                                     Salis-Seewis                                          1816

404       Die Herbstnacht                                                Salis-Seewis                                          1816

405       Der Herbstabend                                   Salis-Seewis                                          1816

406       Abschied von der Harfe                         Salis-Seewis                                          1816

409       Der verfehlte Stunde                             Schlegel                                               1816

410       Sprache der Liebe                                 Schlegel                                               1816

411       Daphne der Bache                                 Stolberg-Stolberg                                  1816

412       Stimme der Liebe                                 Stolberg-Stolberg                                  1816

413       Entzückung                                          Matthisson                                           1816

414       Geist der Liebe                                     Matthisson                                           1816

415       Klage                                                   Matthisson                                           1816

416       Lied in der Abswesenheit                      Stolberg-Stolberg                                  1816

418       Stimme der Liebe                                 Matthisson                                           1816

419       Julius an Theone                                  Matthisson                                           1816

429       Minnelied                                             Hölty                                                    1816

430       Die frühe Liebe                                     Hölty                                                    1816

431       Blumenlied                                           Hölty                                                    1816

432       Der Leidende                                        Hölty                                                    1816

433       Seligkeit                                               Hölty                                                    1816

434       Ertelied                                                Hölty                                                    1816

436       Klage                                                   Hölty                                                    1816

437       Klage (obsolete Deutsch number)          Hölty                                                    1816

442       Das grosse Halleluja                              Klopstock                                             1816

443       Schlachtlied                                          Klopstock                                             1816

444       Die Gestirne                                         Klopstock                                             1816

445       Edone                                                   Klopstock                                             1816

446       Die Leibesgötter                                   Uz                                                        1816

447       An den Schlaf                                                                                                   1816

448       Gott im Frülinge                                   Uz                                                        1816

449       Der gute Hirt                                        Uz                                                        1816

450       Fragment aus dem Aeschylus                Aeschylus                                             1816

454       Grablied auf einem Soldaten                 Schubart                                               1816

455       Freunde der Kinderjahre                                    Köpkjen                                               1816

456       Das Heimnweh                                     Winkler                                                            1816

457       An die untergehende Sonne                  Kosegarten                                           1816

458       Aus Diego Manazares                           Schlechta                                             1816

462       An Chloen                                            Jacobi                                                   1816

463       Hochzeit-Lied                                       Jacobi                                                   1816

464       In der Mitternacht                                Jacobi                                                   1816

465       Trauer der Liebe                                   Jacobi                                                   1816

466       Die Perle                                              Jacobi                                                   1816

467       Pflicht und Liebe                                  Gotter                                                  1816

468       An dem Mond                                      Hölty                                                    1816

469       Mignon                                                            Goethe                                                 1816

473       Liedesend                                             Mayrhofer                                            1816

474       Lied des Orpheus                                  Jacobi                                                   1816

475       Abschied                                              Mayrhofer                                            1816

476       Rückweg                                              Mayrhofer                                            1816

477       Alte Liebe rostet nie                             Mayrhofer                                            1816

478       Harfenspieler I                                      Goethe                                                 1816

479       Harfenspieler II                                     Goethe                                                 1816

480       Harfenspieler III                                    Goethe                                                 1816

481       Sehnsucht                                            Goethe                                                 1816

482       Der Sänger am Felsen                           Pichler                                                  1816

483       Lied                                                     Pichler                                                  1816

489       Der Wanderer                                       Schmidt von Lübeck                            1816

490       Der Hirt                                                Mayrhofer                                            1816

491       Geheimnis                                            Mayrhofer                                            1816

492       Zum Punsche                                       Mayrhofer                                            1816

493       Der Wanderer                                       Schmidt von Lübeck                             1816

495       Abendlied der Fürstein                          Mayrhofer                                            1816

496       Klage um Ali Bey                                 Claudius                                               1816

497       An die Nachtigall                                  Claudius                                               1816

498       Wiegenlied                                                                                                       1816

499       Abendlied                                             Claudius                                               1816

500       Phidile                                                  Claudius                                               1816

501       Zufriedenheit                                        Claudius                                               1816

502       Herbstlied                                             Salis-Seewis                                          1816

503       Mailied                                                 Hölty                                                    1816

504       Am Grabe Anselmos                             Claudius                                               1816

507       Skolie                                                   Matthisson                                           1816

508       Lebenslied                                            Matthisson                                           1816

509       Leiden der Trennung                            Metastasio                                            1816

510       Vedi quanto adoro                                Metastasio                                            1816

513       Nur wer die Liebe kennt                                    Werner                                                 1817

514       Die abgeblühte Linde                            Széchényi                                             1817

515       Der Flug der Zeit                                  Széchényi                                             1817

516       Sehsnucht                                            Mayrhofer                                            1817

517       Der Schäfer und der Reiter                    Fouqué                                                 1817

518       An den Tod                                          Schubart                                               1817

519       Die Blumensprache                               Platner                                                 1817

520       Frohsinn                                               Castelli                                                 1817

521       Jagdlied                                                Werner                                                 1817

522       Die Liebe                                              Leon                                                    1817

523       Trost                                                    Mayrhofer                                            1817

524       Der Alpenjäger                                     Mayrhofer                                            1817

525       Wie Ulfru fischt                                    Mayrhofer                                            1817

526       Fahrt zum Hades                                  Matthisson                                           1817

527       Schlaflied                                             Matthisson                                           1817

528       La pastorella al prato                             Goldoni                                                1817

530       An eine Quelle                                     Claudius                                               1817

531       Der Tod und das Mädchen                    Claudius                                               1817

532       Das lied vom Eifen                               Claudius                                               1817

534       Die Nacht                                             Ossian                                                  1817

535       Lied (with small orchestra)                                                                                1817

536       Der Schiffer                                          Mayrhofer                                            1817

539       Am Strome                                           Mayrhofer                                            1817

540       Philoktet                                              Mayrhofer                                            1817

543       Auf dem See                                         Goethe                                                 1817

544       Ganymed                                              Goethe                                                 1817

545       Der Jüngling und der Tod                     Spaun                                                   1817

546       Trost im Liede                                      Schober                                                1817

547       An die Musik                                        Schober                                                1817

548       Orest auf Tauris                                                Mayrhofer                                            1817

549       Mahomets Gesang                                Goethe                                                 1817

550       Die Forelle                                            Schubart                                               1817

551       Pax vobiscum                                       Schober                                                1817

552       Hänflings Liebeswerbung                      Kind                                                     1817

553       An der Donau                                       Mayrhofer                                            1817

554       Uraniens Flucht                                                Mayrhofer                                            1817

555       Song sketch                                          (no text)                                              1817

558       Liebhaber in allen Gestalten                  Goethe                                                 1817

559       Schweizerleid                                       Goethe                                                 1817

560       Der Goldschmiedsgewsell                      Goethe                                                 1817

561       Nach einem Gewitter                            Mayrhofer                                            1817

562       Fischerlied                                            Salis-Seewis                                          1817

563       Die Einsiedelei                                      Salis-Seewis                                          1817

564       Gretchen im Zwinger                            Goethe                                                 1817

569       Das Grab                                              Salis-Seewis                                          1817

573       Iphigenia                                              Mayrhofer                                            1817

577       Entzückung an Laura                            Schiller                                                 1817

578       Abschied                                              Schubert                                               1817

579       Der Knabe in der Wiege                                    Ottenwalt                                             1817

579a     Vollendung                                          Matthisson                                           1817

579b     Die Erde                                               Matthisson                                           1817

582       Augenblicke im Elysium                                                                                   1817

583       Gruppe aus dem Tartarus                      Schiller                                                 1817

584       Elysium                                                Schiller                                                 1817

585       Atys                                                     Matthisson                                           1817

586       Erlafsee                                                Matthisson                                           1817

587       An den Frühling                                   Schiller                                                 1817

588       Der Alpenjäger                                     Schiller                                                 1817

594       Der Kampf                                           Schiller                                                 1817

595       Thekla: eine Geisterstimme                   Schiller                                                 1817

596       Lied eines Kindes                                                                                             1817

611       Auf der Riesenkoppe                             Körner                                                  1817

614       An den Mond in einer Herbstnacht        Schreiber                                              1817

616       Grablied für die Mutter                                                                                     1817

619       Vocal exercise, figured bass                                                                              1817

620       Einsamkeit                                           Mayrhofer                                            1817

622       Der Bluembrief                                     Schreiber                                              1817

623       Das Marienbild                                     Schreiber                                              1817

626       Das Marienbild                                     Schreiber                                              1817

627       Das Abendrot                                       Schreiber                                              1817

628       Sonett I                                                            Petrarch                                                1817

629       Sonett II                                               Petrarch                                                1817

630       Sonett III                                              Petrarch                                                1817

631       Blanka (Das Mádchen)                          Schlegel                                               1817

632       Von Mitleiden Mariä                             Schlegel                                               1817

634       Die Berge                                             Schlegel                                               1817

636       Sehsnucht                                            Schiller                                                 1817

637       Hoffnung                                             Schiller                                                 1817

638       Der Jüngling am Bache                         Schiller                                                 1817

639       Widerschein                                         Schlechta                                             1817

645       Abend                                                  Tieck                                                    1817

646       Der Gebüsche                                       Schlegel                                               1817

649       Der Wanderer                                       Schlegel                                               1817

650       Abendbilder                                          Silbert                                                  1817

651       Himmelsfunken                                                Silbert                                                  1817

652       Das Mädchen                                        Schlegel                                               1817

653       Bertas Lied in der Nacht                                   Grillparzer                                            1817

654       Am die Freunde                                                Mayrhofer                                            1817

658       Marie                                                   Novalis                                                 1817

659       Hymne I                                               Novalis                                                 1817

660       Hymne II                                              Novalis                                                 1817

661       Hymne III                                            Novalis                                                 1817

662       Hymne IV                                            Novalis                                                 1817

663       Der 13 Psalm                                        (trans Mendelssohn)                             1817

669       Beim Winde                                         Mayrhofer                                            1817

670       Die Sternennächte                                Mayrhofer                                            1817

671       Trost                                                    Mayrhofer                                            1817

672       Nachtstück                                           Mayrhofer                                            1817

673       Die Liebende schreibt                           Goethe                                                 1817

674       Prometheus                                          Goethe                                                 1817

677       Strophe aus Die Götter Griechenlands   Schiller                                                 1817

682       Überallen Auber Liebe                          Mayrhofer                                            1820

684       Die Sterne                                            Schlegel

685       Morgenlied                                           Werner

686       Frülingslaube                                        Uhland

687       Nachthymne                                         Novalis

688       Vier Canzonen                                      Vitorelli, Metastasio, Schiller                1817

690       Abendröte                                            Schlegel                                               1823

691       Die Vögel                                             Schlegel                                               1820

692       Der Knabe                                            Schlegel                                               1820

693       Der Fluss                                              Schlegel                                               1820

694       Der Schiffer                                          Schlegel                                               1820

695       Namenstagslied                                    Stadler                                                  1820

698       Des Fräuleins                                        Schlechta                                             1820

690       Abendröte                                            Schlegel                                               1820

691       Die Vögel                                             Schlegel                                               1820

692       Der Knabe                                            Schlegel                                               1820

693       Der Fluss                                              Schlegel                                               1820

694       Der Schiffer                                          Schlegel                                               1820

695       Namenstagslied                                    Stadler                                                  1820

698       Des Fräuleins Liebesslauschen              Schlechta                                             1820

699       Der entsühnte Orest                              Mayrhofer                                            1820

700       Freiwilliges Versinken                           Mayrhofer                                            1820

702       Der Jüngling auf dem Hügel                 Hüttenbrenner                                      1820

707       Der zürneneden Diana                          Mayrhofer                                            1820

708       Im Walde                                             Schlegel                                               1820

711       Lob der Tränen                                     Schlegel                                               1818

712       Die gefangenen Sänger                         Schlegel                                               1821

713       Der Unglückliche                                  Pichler                                                  1821

715       Versunken                                            Goethe                                                 1821

716       Grenzen der Menschheit                                   Goethe                                                 1821

717       Suleika II                                              Willemer (née Jung)                             1821

719       Geheimes                                             Goethe                                                 1821

720       Suleika I                                               Willemer (née Jung)                             1821

721       Mahomets Gesang                                Goethe                                                 1821

725       Linde Lüfte wehen, Mez                                                                                   1821

726       Mignon I                                              Goethe                                                 1821

727       Mignon II                                             Goethe                                                 1821

728       Johanna Sebus                                      Goethe                                                 1821

731       Der Blumen Schmerz                            Maylath                                                1821

736       Ihr Grab                                               Engelhardt                                            1822

737       An die Leier                                         Bruchmann                                         1822

738       Im Haine                                              Bruchmann                                          1822

741       Sei mir gegrüsst                                                Rückert                                                            1822

742       Der Wachtelschlag                                Sauter                                                  1822

743       Selige Welt                                           Senn                                                    1822

744       Schwanengesang                                  Senn                                                    1822

745       Die Rose                                               Schlegel                                               1822

746       Am See                                                            Bruchmann                                          1822

749       Herr Josef Spaun, Assessor in Linz        Collin                                                   1822

751       Die Liebe hat gelogen                           Platen-Hallermünde                              1822

752       Nachtviolen                                          Mayrhofer                                            1822

753       Heliopolis I                                           Mayrhofer                                            1822

754       Heliopolis II                                          Mayrhofer                                            1822

756       Du liebst mich nicht                             Platen-Hallermunde                              1822

758       Todesmusik                                          Schober                                                1822

761       Schatzgräbers Begehr                            Schober                                                1822

762       Schwestergruss                                     Bruchmann                                          1822

764       Der Musensohn                                                Goethe                                                 1822

765       An die Entfernte                                   Goethe                                                 1822

766       Am Flusse                                            Goethe                                                 1822

767       Wilkommen und Abschied                    Goethe                                                 1822

768       Wandrers Nachtlied                              Goethe                                                 1824

770       Drang in die Ferne                                Leitner                                                 1823

771       Der Zwerg                                            Collin                                                   1822-3

772       Wehmut                                               Collin                                                   1822-23

774       Auf dem Wasser zu singen                    Stolberg-Stolberg                                  1823

775       Dass sie hier gewesen                            Rückert                                                            1823

776       Du bist die Ruh                                                Rückert                                                            1823

777       Lachen und Weinen                              Rückert                                                            1823

778       Greisengesang                                      Rückert                                                           1823

778a     Die Wallfahrt                                        Rückert                                                            1823

785       der zürnende Barde                               Bruchmann                                          1823

786       Viola                                                    Schober                                                1823

788       Lied                                                     Stolberg-Stolberg                                  1823

789       Pilgerweise                                           Schober                                                1823

792       Vergissmeinnicht                                  Schober                                                1823

793       Das Geheimnis                                     Schiller                                                 1823

794       Der Pilgrim                                           Schiller                                                 1823

795       (Nos 1-20) Die schöne Müllerin             Müller                                                  1823

797       Romanze zum Drama Rosamunde         Chézy                                                   1823

799       Im Abendrot                                         Lappe                                                   1824

800       Der Einsame                                         Lappe                                                   1825

801       Dithyrambe                                          Schiller                                     by June 1826

805       Der Sieg                                               Mayrhofer                                            1824

806       Abenstern                                             Mayrhofer                                            1824

807       Auflösung                                            Mayrhofer                                            1824

822       Lied eine Kriegers                                                                                             1824

827       Nacht und Träume                                Collin                                       by June 1823

828       Die junge Nonne                                  Craigher de Jachelutta                           1825

829       Abschied                                              Pratobevera                                           1826

830       Lied der Anne Lyle                               MacDonald                                           1825

831       Gesang der Norna                                 Scott                                                    1825

832       Des Sängers Habe                                 Schlechta                                             1825

833       Der blinde Knabe                                              Cibber                                      1825

834       Im Walde                                                         Schulze                                                1825

837       Ellens Gesang I                                                 Scott                                        1825

838       Ellens Gesang II                                               Scott                                        1825

839       Ellens Gesang III                                              Scott                                        1825

842       Totengräbers Heimwehe                                                Craigher                                   1825

843       Liedes gefangenen Jägers                                  Scott                                        1825

846       Normans Gesang                                              Scott                                        1825

851       Das Heimweh                                                   Pyrker                                      1825

852       Die Allmacht                                                    Pyrker                                      1825

853       Auf der Bruck                                                   Schulze                                                1825

854       Fülle der Liebe                                                  Schlegel                                   1825

855       Wiedersehn                                                      Schlegel                                   1825

856       Abendlied für die Entfernte                               Schlegel                                   1825

857       Zwei Szenen aus dem Schauspiel Lacrimas          Schütz                                      1825

860       An mein Herz                                                   Schulze                                                1825

861       Der Liebliche Stern                                           Schulze                                                1825

862       Um Mitternacht                                                            Schulze                                                1826

863       An Gott                                                                        Hohlfeld                                   by 1827

864       Das Totenhemchen                                           Bauernfield                               after 1824

865       Wilderspruch                                                    Seidl                                         1826

866       Vier Refrainlieder                                             Seidl                                         1828

867       Wiegenlied                                                       Seidl                                         1826

868       Das Echo                                                          Castelli                                     1826

869       Totengräber-Weise                                            Schlechta                                 1826

870       Der Wanderer an den Mond                              Seidl                                         1826

871       Das Zügenglöcklein                                          Seidl                                         1826

874       O Quell, was Stömst du rasch und wild             Schulze                                                1826

876       Im Jänner 1817                                                 Schulze                                                1826

877       Gesänge aus Wilhelm Meister                           Goethe                                     1826

878       Am Fenster                                                      Seidl                                         1826

879       Sehsnucht                                                        Seidl                                         1826

880       Im Freien                                                         Seidl                                         1826

881       Fischerweise                                                     Schlechta                                 1826

882       Im Frühling                                                      Schulze                                                1826

883       Lebensmut                                                       Schulze                                                1826

884       Über Wildemann                                              Schulze                                                1826

888       Trinklied                                                          Shakespeare                              1826

889       Standchen (Hark, hark the lark)                         Shakespeare                             1826

890       Hipplits Lied                                                     Gerstenberg                              1826

891       Gesang (An Sylvia)                                           Shakespeare                              1826

896       Fröhliches Scheiden                                          Leitner                                     1827

896a     Sie in jedem Liede                                            Leitner                                     1827

896b     Wolke und Quelle                                             Leitner                                     1827

902       Drei Gesange                                                    Metastasio                                1827

904       Alinde                                                              Rochlitz                                   1827

905       An die Laute                                                    Rochlitz                                   1827

906       Der Vater mit dem Kind                                               Bauernfeld                                1827

907       Romanze des Richard Löwenherz                      Scott                                        1827

909       Jägers Liebeslied                                               Schober                                    1827

910       Schiffers Scheidelied                                         Schober                                    1827

911       (Nos 1-24) Winterreise                                      Müller                                      1827

916a     Song sketch                                                      (no text)                                   1827

917       Das Lied in Grünen                                          Reil                                          1827

919       Frühlingslied                                                    Pollak                                       1827

922       Heimliches Lieben                                            Klenke                                     1827

923       Eine altschottische Ballade                                anonymous English                  1827

926       Das Weinen                                                      Leitner                                     1827

927       Vor meiner Wiege                                             Leitner                                     1827

931       Der Wallensteiner Lanznecht beim Trunlk         Leitner                                     1827

932       Der Kreuzzug                                                   Leitner                                     1827

933       Des Fischers Liebesglück                                  Leitner                                     1827

937       Lebensmut                                                       Rellstab                                    1828

938       Der Winterabend                                              Leitner                                     1828

939       Die Sterne                                                        Leitner                                     1828

943       Auf dem Strom                                                 Rellstab                                    1828

945       Herbt                                                                Rellstab                                    1828

949       Widerschein                                                     Schlechta                                 1828

955       Glaube, Hoffnung and Liebe                             Kuffner                                                1828

957       (Nos 1-14) Schwanengesang                              Rellstab, Heine, Seidl                1828

965       Der Hirt auf dem Felsten                                   Müller                                      1828

989       Vollendung                                                      Matthisson                               1828

990       Der Graf von Habsburg                                     Schiller                                     ?1815

990a     Kaiser Maximilian auf der Martinswand             Collin                                       ?1815


17        Quell’ innocente figlio                                                   Metastasio                    1812

33        Entra L’uomo allor che nasce                                        Metastasio                    1812

34        Te solo adoro                                                                Metastasio                    1812

35        Serbate, o dei custodi                                                    Metastasio                    1812

47        Dithyrambe (Der Besuch)                                             Schiller                         1813

168       Nun lasst uns den Leib begraben                                               Klopstock                     1815

168a     Osterlied                                                                       Klopstock                     1815

232       Hymne an den Unendlichen                                          Schiller                         1815

294       Namensfeier für Franz Michael Vierthaler                                                                     1815

329a     Das Grab                                                                      Salis-Seewis                  1815

439       An die Sonne                                                                Uz                                1816

440       Chor der Engel                                                             Goethe                         1816

451       Prometheus                                                                  Dräxler von Carin         1816

472       Kantate zu Ehren von Josef Spendou                             Hohseisel                      1816

609       Die Geseligkeit                                                             Unger                           1818

642       Viel tausend Sterne prangen                                          Eberhard                       ?1812

643a     Das Grab                                                                      Salis-Seewis                  1819

665       Im traulichen Kreise                                                     Unger                           1818

666       Kantate zum Geburtstag des Sängers Johann Michael Vogl              Stadler                          1819

689       Lazarus                                                                        Niemeyer                      1820

748       Am Geburtstag des Kaisers                                           Deinhardstein               1822

763       Des Tages                                                                     Weihe                        1822

815       Gebet                                                                           Fouqué                         1824

826       Der Tanz                                                                      ?Schnitzer von Mecrau 1828

875a     Die Allmacht                                                                Pyrker von Felsö-Eör     1826

920       Stänchen                                                                      Grillparzer                    1827

930       Der Hochzietsbraten                                                     Schober                        1827

936       Kantate für Irene Kieswetter                                         anonymous Italian        1827

942       Mirjams Siegesang                                                        Grillparzer                    1828

953       Der 92 Psalm                                                                Hebrew text                  1828

954       Glaube, Hoffnung und Liebe                                         Reil                              1828

985       Gott in Ungewitter                                                       Uz                                ?1827


37        Die Advokaten                                                              Engelhart                     1812

38        Totengräberlied                                                             Hölty                            1813

43        Dreifach ist der Schritt der Zeit (1)                                Schiller                         813

51        Unendliche Freude (2)                                                  Schiller                         1813

55        Selig durch die Liebe                                                    Schiller                         1813

57        Hier strecket der wallende Pilger                                                Schiller                         1813

58        Dessen Fahne Donnerstürme wallte                               Schiller                         1813

60        Hier umarmen sich getreue Gatten                                Schiller                         1813

62        Thronend auf erhabnem Sitz                                         Schiller                         1813

63        Wer die steile Sternenbahn                                            Schiller                         1813

64        Majestäsche Sonnenrosse                                              Schiller                         1813

65        Schmerz verzerret ihr Gesicht                                       Schiller                         1813

67        Frisch atmet des Morgens lebendiger Hauch                  Schiller                         1813

70        Dreifach ist der Schritt der Zeit                                     Schiller                         1813

71        Die zwei Tugendwege                                                   Schiller                         1813

75        Trinklied (‘Freunde, sammelt euch im Kreise’)               Schäffer                        1813

80        Zur Namensfeier meines Vaters                                     Schubert                       1813

88        Verschwunden sind die Schmerzen                               Schubert                       1813

110       Wer ist gross?                                                                                                   1814

129       Mailied                                                                         Hölty                            1815

132       Lied beim Rundetanz                                                    Salis-Seewis                  1815

133       Lied im Freien                                                              Salis-Seewis                  1815

140       Klage um Ali Bey (1)                                                    Claudius                       1815

147       Bardengesang                                                               Ossian                          1816

148       Trinklied (‘Brüder! unser Erdenwallen’)                          Casteli                          1815

236       Das Abendrot                                                               Kosegarten                   1815

242       Trinklied im Winter                                                      Hölty                            1815

243       Frühlingslied (‘Die Luft ist blau’)                                               Hölty                            1815

268       Bergknappenlied                                                                                                           1815

269       Das Leben                                                                    Wannovius                   1815

277       Punschlied (‘Vier Elemente innig gesellt’)                      Schiller                         1815

330       Das Grab (2)                                                                 Salis-Seewis                  1815

331       Der Entfernten (1)                                                        Salis-Seewis                  1816

337       Die Einsiedelei                                                              Salis-Seewis                  1816

338       An den Frühling (2)                                                      Schiller                         1816

339       Amors Macht                                                               Matthisson                   1816

340       Badelied                                                                       Matthisson                   1816

341       Sylphen                                                                                    Matthisson                   1816

356       Trinklied (‘Funkeld im Becher’)                                                                         1816

364       Fischerlied (2)                                                               Salis-Seewis                  1816

377       Das Grab (3)                                                                 Salis-Seewis                  1816

387       Die Schlacht (2)                                                                        Schiller                         1816

407       Beitrag zur Fünfzig jährigen Jubelfeier des Herrn Salieri Schubert                       1816

422       Naturgenuss (2)                                                                        Matthisson                   1816

423       Andeken                                                                       Matthisson                   1816

424       Erinnerungen (‘Am Seegestad’)                                      Matthisson                   1816

425       Lebensbild                                                                                                        1816

426       Trinklied                                                                                                          1816

427       Trinklied im Mai                                                           Hölty                            1816

428       Widerhall (‘Auf ewig dein’)                                            Matthisson                   1816

441       As D407, arranged for two tenors and bass

494       Der Geistertanz (4)                                                       Matthisson                   1816

513       La pastorella al prato                                                     Goldoni                        1817

538       Gesang der Geister über den Wassern                            Goethe                         1817

569       Das Grab                                                                      Salis-Seewis                  1817

572       Lied im freien                                                               Salis-Seewis                  1817

598       Das Dörfchen                                                                                                   1817

635       Leise, leise lasst uns singen                                                                                           1819

641       Das Dörfchen (second version)                                                                          1819

656       Sehnsucht                                                                    Goethe                         1819

657       Ruhe, Shönstes Glück der Erde                                                                         1819

704       Gesang der Geister über den Wassern                            Goethe                         1820

705       Gesang des Geister über den Wassern (sketch)               Goethe                         1820

709       Frühlingesang                                                               Schober            before April 1822

710       Im Gegenwärten Vergangenes                                       Goethe                         1821

714       Gesang der Geister über den Wassern                            Goethe                         1820

724       Die nachtingall                                                             Unger                           1821

740       Frühlingsgesang                                                                       Schober                        1822

747       Geist der Liebe                                                             Matthisson                   1822

778b     Ich hab in mich gesogen                                                           Rückert                                    1823

809       Gondelfahrer                                                                Mayrhofer                    1824

822       Lied eines Kriegers                                                                                           1824

825       Wehmut                                                                       Hüttenbrenner              1826

825a     Ewige Liebe                                                                  Schulze                                    1826

825b     Flucht                                                                          Lappe                           1825

835       Bootgesang                                                                   Scott                            1825

847       Trinklied aus dem 16 Jahrhundert                                 Gräffer                         1825

848       Nachtmusik                                                                  Seckendorff                  1825

865       Widerspruch                                                                 Seidl                             1826

873a     Nachklänge                                                                                                      1826

875       Mondenschein                                                              Schober                        1826

892       Nachthelle                                                                    Seidl                             1826

893       Grab und Mond                                                                        Seidl                             1826

901       Wein und Liebe                                                                        Haug                            1827

903       Zur guten Nacht                                                                       Rochlitz                       1827

912       Schlachtlied                                                                  Klopstock                     1827

913       Nachtgesang im Walde                                                 Seidl                             1827

914       Frühlingslied                                                                Pollak                           1827

916       Das stille Lied                                                               Seegemund                   1827

941       Hymnus an den Heiligen Geist                                      Schmidl                        1828

948       Hymnus an den Heiligen Geist (other versions)             Schmidl                        1828

964       Hymnus an den Heiligen Geist (other arrangement)       Schmidl                        1828

983       Jünglingswonne                                                                        Matthisson                   ?1822

983a     Liebe                                                                            Schiller                         ?1822

983b     Zum Rundetanz                                                                        Salis-Seewis                  ?1822

983c     Die Nacht                                                                     ?Krummacher               ?1822




17        Quell’ innocente figlio, version 2                                               Metastasio                    1812

33        Entra l’uomo allor che nasce                                          Metastasio                    1812

61        Ein jugendlicher Maienschwung                                               Schiller                         1813

69        Dreifach ist der Schritt der Zeit                                     Schiller                         1813

130       Der Schnee zerrinnt (1)                                                 Hölty                            1815

131       Lacrimoso son io                                                                                              1815

169       Trinklied vor der Schlacht                                             Körner                          1815

170       Schwertlied                                                                  Körner                          1815

183       Trinklied (‘Ihr Freunde und du gold’ner Wein’)               Zettler                          1815

189       An die Freunde                                                             Schiller                         1815

199       Mailied (‘Grüner wird die Au’)                                       Hölty                            1815

202       Mailied (‘Der Schnee zerrinnt’)                                      Hölty                            1815

203       Der Morgenstern (2)                                                     Körner                          1815

204       Jägerlied                                                                       Körner                          1815

205       Lützows wilde Jagd                                                       Körner                          1815

244       Wilkommen, lieber schöner Mai                                                Hölty                            1815

253       Punschlied: im Norden zu singen                                  Schiller                         1815

269       Das Leben                                                                    Wannovius                   1815

357       Gold’ner Schein, canon                                                 Mattthisson                  1816

442       Das grosse Halleluja                                                      Klopstock                     1816

443       Schlachtlied (1)                                                            Klopstock                     1816

521       Jagdlied                                                                        Werner                         1817

706       Der 23 Psalm                                                                trans M Mendelssohn    1817

757       Gott in der Natur                                                          Kleist                           1822

836       Coronach (Totengesang der Frauen und Mädchen)         Scott                            1825

873       Canon, A minor (sketch)                                                                                   1826

920       Stänchen (formerly D921)                                             Grillparzer                    1827

988       Liebe säuseln die Blätter                                               Hölty                            ?1815


24e       Mass, F, fragment                                                                                             ?1812

27        Salve Regina, F                                                                                                 1812

31        Kyrie, D minor                                                                                                 1812

45        Kyrie, B flat                                                                                                     1813

49        Kyrie, D  minor                                                                                                            1813

56        Sanctus, B flat                                                                                                  1813

66        Kyrie, F                                                                                                            1813

71a       Alleluja, F                                                                                                        1813

105       Mass No 1, F                                                                                                    1814

106       Salve Regina, B flat                                                                                          1814

136       Offertory, C                                                                                                      ?1815

167       Mass No 2, G                                                                                                    1815

175       Stabat mater, G minor                                                                                      1815

181       Offertory, A minor                                                                                            1815

184       Gradual: Benedictus, Domine                                                                            1815

185       Dona nobis pacem, F                                                                                        1815

223       Salve regina, F                                                                                                  1815

324       Mass No 3, B flat                                                                                              1815

379       Deutsches Salve regina, F                                                                                 1816

386       Salve regina, B flat,                                                                                          1816

452       Mass No 4, C                                                                                                    1816

453       Requiem, C  minor                                                                                           1816

460       Tantum ergo, C                                                                                                            1816

461       Tantum ergo, C                                                                                                            1816

486       Magnificat, C                                                                                                   1815

488       Auguste iam coelestium, G                                                                               1816

607       Evangelium Johannis VI, E                                                                               1818

621       Deutsches Requiem, G  minor                                                                           1818

676       Salve regina, A                                                                                                 1819

678       Mass No 5, A  flat                                                                                             1819

696       Six antiphons for Palm Sunday                                                                         1820

730       Tantum ergo, B flat                                                                                          1821

739       Tantum ergo, C                                                                                                            1814

750       Tantum ergo, D                                                                                                            1822

755       Kyrie, A  minor                                                                                                            1822

811       Salve regina, C                                                                                                 1824

872       Deutsche Messe                                                                                                            1827

950       Mass No 6, E flat                                                                                              1828

961       Benedictus, A minor (alternative movement, D452)                                           1828

962       Tantum ergo, E flat                                                                                          1828

963       Offertory, B flat                                                                                                1828



11        Der Spiegelritter                                               Kotzebue                                  1811-12

84        Des Teufels Lustschloss                                                Kotzebue                                  1813-15

137       Adrast                                                              Mayrhofer                                1817-19

190       Der vierjährige Posten                                       Körner                                      1815

220       Fernando                                                          Stadler                                      1815

239       Claudine von Villa Bella                                   Goethe                                     1815

326       Die Freunde von Salamanka                              Mayrhofer                                1815

435       Die Bürgschaft                                                                                                 1816

644       Die Zauberharfe                                                Hofmann                                  1820

647       Die Zwillingsbrüder                                          Hofmann                                  1819

701       Sakuntala                                                         Neumann                                 1820

723       Duet and aria for Hérold’s Das Zauberglöckchen Théaulon                                  1821

732       Alfonso und Estrella                                         Schober                                    1821-22

787       Die Verschworenen                                           Castelli                                     1823

791       Rüdiger                                                                        ?Mosel                                     1823

796       Fierabras                                                           Kupelweiser                              1823

797       Rosamunde, Fürsten von Zypern                                   Chézy                                       1823

918       Der Graf von Gleichen                                      Bauernfeld                                1827

981       Der Minnesänger                                                                                              lost





2e         Fantasie, C minor                                                                                             1822

13        Fugue, D minor                                                                                                            1812

14        Overture                                                          (lost sketch)                              1812

21        Six Variations, F                                               (lost sketch)                              1812

24a       Fugue, C                                                                                                          1812

24b       Fugue, G                                                                                                          1812

24c       Fugue, D minor                                                                                                            1812

24d       Fugue, C                                                          (fragment)                                1812

29        Andante, C                                                                                                       1812

37a       Fugal sketches, B flat                                                                                        1813

41a       Fugue, E minor                                                (fragment)                               1813

71b       Fugue, E minor                                                (fragment)                                1813

154       Allegro, E                                                         (sketch of D157)                       1815

156       Ten Variations, F                                                                                              1815

157       Sonata, E                                                         (unfinished)                              1815

178       Adagio, G                                                                                                         1815

279       Sonata, C                                                                                                         1815

346       Allegretto, C                                                     (fragment)                               1816

347       Allegretto moderato, C                                      (fragment)                                1813

348       Andantino, C                                                    (fragment)                                1816

349       Adagio, C                                                         (fragment)                                1816

459       Sonata, E                                                          (fragment)                               1816

459a     Fünf Klavierstücke nos 3-5                                                                               1816

505       Adagio, D flat                                                   (original slow movement D625) 1816

506       Rondo, E                                                          (finale for D566?)                     1817

537       Sonata, A minor                                                                                               1817

557       Sonata, A flat                                                                                                   1817

566       Sonata, E minor                                                                                                            1817

567       Sonata, D flat                                                  (first version of D568)               1817

568       Sonata, E flat                                                                                                    1817

570       Scherzo, D                                                                                                        1817

571       Sonata, F sharp minor                                       (unfinished)                              1817

575       Sonata, B                                                                                                         1817

576       Thirteen Variations on a Theme by Hüttenbrenner                                            1817

593       Two Scherzi (B flat, D flat)                                                                               1817

604       Andante, A                                                                                                       1817

605       Fantasia, C                                                       (unfinished)                              1821-3

605a     Fantasy, C: ‘Grazer Fantasie’                                                                             1818

606       March, E                                                                                                          1818

612       Adagio, E                                                                                                         1818

613       Sonata, C                                                         (unfinished)                              1818

625       Sonata, F minor                                                (unfinished)                              1818

655       Sonata, C sharp minor                                     (fragment)                                1819

664       Sonata, A                                                                                             1819 or 1825

718       Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, C minor                                                        1821

749a     Overture to ‘Alfonso und Estrella’                                                                      1822

760       Fantasy in C: ‘Wandererfantasie’                                                                        1822

769a     Sonata, E minor                                                (fragment)                                1823

780       Six Moments Musicaux                                                                                    1823-8

784       Sonata, A minor                                                                                               1823

817       Ungarische Melodie, B minor                                                                            1824

840       Sonata, C: ‘Reliquié’                                          (unfinished)                              1825

850       Sonata, D                                                                                                         1825

894       Sonata, G (“Fantasie”)                                                                                       1826

899       Four Impromptus: C minor, E flat, G flat, A flat            1827

900       Allegretto, C minor                                           (fragment)                                after 1820

915       Allegretto, C minor                                                                                           1827

916b     Piano piece, C                                                  (sketch)                                                1827

916c     Piano piece, C minor                                        (sketch)                                                1827

935       Four Impromptus: F minor, A flat, B flat, F minor                                             1827

946       Drei Klavierstücke: E flat minor, E flat, C                                                         1828

958       Sonata, C minor                                                                                                           1828

959       Sonata, A                                                                                                         1828

960       Sonata, B flat                                                                                                   1828



19b       Waltzes and march                                           (lost)                            1812 or 1813

22        Twelve minuets with trios                                 (lost)                                        1812

41        Thirty minuets with trios                                  (ten of them lost)                      1813

91        Two minuets (D, A) and trios                                                                            1813

128       Twelve Wiener Deutsche                                                                                  1812

135       Deutscher, E, with trio                                                                                      1815

139       Deutscher, C sharp, with trio                                                                            1815

145       12 Waltzes                                                                                                        1815-21

146       20 Waltzes (Letzte Walzer)                                                                               1815, 1823

158       Ecossaise, D minor, F                                                                                       1815

277a     Minuet, A minor                                                                                              1815

299       Twelve Ecossaises                                                                                             1815

334       Minuet, A, with trio                                                                                         1815

335       Minuet, E, with 2 trios                                                                                      1813

365       36 Originaltänze (Erste Walzer)                                                                         1816-21

366       17 Ländler                                                                                                        1816-24

378       Eight Ländler, B flat                                                                                         1816

380       Three Minuets, with trios                                                                                  1816

420       Twelve Deutsche                                                                                              1816

421       Six Ecossaises, E flat                                                                                         1816

511       Ecossaise, E flat                                                                                                1817

529       Eight Ecossaises                                                                                               1817

600       Minuet, C sharp minor                                                                                      1814

610       Trio, E                                                                                                              1818

640       Two Dances                                                                                          (date unknown)

643       Deutscher, C sharp minor, and Ecossaise, E flat                                                 1819

680       Two Ländler                                                                                         (date unknown)

681       Two Ländler                                                                                         (date unknown)

697       Six Ecossaises, A flat                                                                                        1820

722       Deutscher, G flat                                                                                              1821

734       16 Ländler and 2 Ecossaises (Wiener-Damen Ländler)                                        1822

735       Galop and eight Ecossaises                                                                                1822

769       Two Deutsche                                                                                                  1823-24

779       34 Valses Sentimentales                                                                                                1823

781       Twelve Ecossaises                                                                                             1823

782       Ecossaise, D                                                                                                     1823

783       16 Deutsche and 2 Ecossaises                                                                            1823-24

790       Twelve Deutsche (Ländler)                                                                               1823

816       Three Ecossaises                                                                                               1824

820       Six Deutsche                                                                                                    1824

841       Two Deutsche (F, G)                                                                                        1825

844       Waltz, G (Albumblatt)                                                                                      1825

924       Twelve Grazer Walzer                                                                                       1827

925       Grazer Galopp, C                                                                                              1827

969       Twelve Walzes (Valses Nobles)                                                                         1826

970       Six Ländler                                                                                           (date unknown)

971       Three Deutsche (A minor, A, E)                                                                                    1822

972       Three Deutsche (D  flat, A flat, A)                                                        (date unknown)

973       Three Deutsche (E, E, A flat)                                                                (date unknown)

974       Two Deutsche, D flat                                                                            (date unknown)

975       Deutscher, D                                                                                        (date unknown)

976       Cotillon, E flat                                                                                                  1825

977       Eight Ecossaises                                                                                   (date unknown)

978       Waltz, A flat                                                                                                     1825

979       Waltz, G                                                                                                           1826

980       Two Waltzes: G, B minor                                                                                  1826

980d     Waltz, C                                                                                                           1827




1          Fantasie, G                                                                                                       1810

1b        Fantasie, G                                                       (fragment)                    1810 or 1811

1c         Sonata, F                                                          (fragment)                    1810 or 1811

9          Fantasie, G minor                                                                                             1813

48        Fantasie, C minor                                                                                             1813

592       Overture D ‘im Italienische Stile’                                   (arrangement of D590)             1817

597       Overture, C ‘im Italienische Stile’                      (arrangement of D591)             1817

599       Four Polonaises                                                                                                1818

602       Three Marches Héroïques (B minor, C, D)                                             1818 or 1824

603       Introduction and Four Variations on an Original Theme                                    1824

608       Rondo, D (‘Notre amitié est invariable’)                                                             1824

617       Sonata, B flat                                                                                                   1818

618       Deutscher, G                                                                                                    1818

618a     Polonaise and Trio                                            (sketch)                                                1818

624       Eight Variations on a French Song                                                                    1818

668       Overture, G minor                                                                                            1819

675       Overture, F                                                                                                       1819

733       Three Marches Militaires (D, G, E flat)                                                              1818

773       Overture to ‘Alfonso und Estrella’                                                                      1823

798       Overture to ‘Fierabras’                                                                                      1823

812       Sonata in D: ‘Grand Duo’                                                                                  1824

818       Divertissement à l’hongroise, G minor                                                               1824

823       Six Grandes Marches                                                                                        1824

824       Six Polonaises                                                                                                   1826

859       Grande Marche Funèbre, C minor                                                                     1825

885       Grande Marche Héroïque, A minor                                                                    1826

886       Two Marches Caractéristiques, C                                                                       1826

908       Eight Variations on a Themefrom Hèrold’s ‘Marie’, C                                         1827

928       March, G: ‘Kindermarsch’                                                                                  1827

940       Fantasie, F minor                                                                                              1828

947       Allegro, A minor: ‘Lebensstürme’                                                                      1828

951       Rondo, A                                                                                                          1828

952       Fugue, F minor                                                                                                 1828

968       Allegro Moderato, C and Andante (Sonatine)                                                     1818



2c         String Quartet, F                                              (fragment)                                ?1811

2d        Six Minuets                                                                                                      1811

2f         Trio of a minuet, C                                                                                           1811

3          String Quartet, C                                              (fragment)                               1812

8          Overture, C minor                                                                                            1811

8a         Arrangement of D8                                                                                           1811

18        String Quartet, B flat                                                                            1810 or 1811

19        String Quartet, lost                                                                                           around 1811

19a       String Quartet, lost                                                                                           around 1811

20        Overture, B flat, lost                                                                                         1812

28        Trio (sonata in one movement) B flat                                                                1812

32        String Quartet, C                                                                                              1812

36        String Quartet, B flat                                                                                        1813

46        String Quartet, C                                                                                              1812

68        String Quartet, B flat                                        (fragment)                                1812

72        Wind Octet, F                                                                                                   1812

72a       Allegro, F                                                         (fragment)                                1812

74        String Quartet, D                                                                                              1812

79        Wind Nonet, E flat minor                                                                                 1812

86        Minuet, D                                                                                                        1812

87        String Quartet, E flat                                                                                        1812

89        Five minuets and trios                                                                                      1812

90        Five Deutsches and trios                                                                                               1812

94        String Quartet, D                                                                                  1811 or 1812

94b       Five minuets and Deutsche (lost)                                                                      1813

96        Trio, G                                                                                                             1814

103       String Quartet, C minor                                                (fragment)                               1814

111a     String Trio, B flat                                                                                             1814

173       String Quartet, G minor                                                                                                1815

353       String Quartet, E                                                                                              1816

354       Four Komische Ländler, D                                                                                1816

355       Eight Ländler, F sharp minor                                                                            1816

370       Nine Ländler, D                                                                                                            1816

374       Eleven Ländler, B flat                                                                                       1816

384       Sonata, D, violin and piano                                                                               1816

385       Sonata, A minor, violin and piano                                                                     1816

408       Sonata, G minor, violin and piano                                                                     1816

471       String Trio, B flat                                             (fragment)                                1816

487       Adagio and Rondo Concertante, F                                                                     1816

574       Sonata, A, violin and piano                                                                               1817

581       String Trio, B flat                                                                                             1817

597a     Variations, A, for solo violin                                                                             (lost)

601       Overture for string quartet B flat                                   (fragment)                                1816

667       Piano Quintet, A: ‘Die Forelle’                                                                          1819

703       String Quartet movement, C minor: ‘Quartettsatz’                                              1820

802       Introduction and Variations for flute and piano                                                  1824

803       Octet, F                                                                                                                        1824

804       String Quartet, A minor                                                                                                1824

810       String Quartet, D minor: ‘Der Tod und das Mädchen’                                         1824

821       Sonata in A minor: ‘Arpeggione’                                                                                    1824

887       String Quartet, G                                                                                              1826

895       Rondo Brillant in B minor for violin and piano                                                  1826

898       Piano Trio in B flat                                                                                           1827

929       Piano Trio in E flat                                                                                           1827

934       Fantasy in C for violin and piano                                                                       1827

956       String Quintet in C                                                                                           1828


2a         Overture, D                                                      (fragment: formerly D996)        ?1811

2b        Symphony, D                                                  (fragment)                                ?1811

4          Overture, D for Albrecht’s comedy ‘Der Teufel als Hydraulicus’                          ?1812

12        Overture, D                                                                                          1811 or 1812

26        Overture, D                                                                                                      1812

39a       Three minuets and trios                                               (lost)                                        1813

71c       Orchestral fragment, D                                                                                     1813

82        Symphony No 1, D                                                                                           1813

94a       Orchestral fragment, B flat                                                                                1814

125       Symphony No 2, B flat                                                                                     1814-15

200       Symphony No 3, D                                                                                           1815

345       Concertstück in D, for violin and orchestra                                                        1816

417       Symphony No 4 in C minor: ‘Tragic’                                                                  1816

438       Rondo in A, for violin and orchestra                                                                  1816

470       Overture, B flat                                                                                                1816

485       Symphony No 5, B flat                                                                                     1816

556       Overture, D                                                                                                      1817

580       Polonaise in B flat for violin and orchestra                                                         1817

589       Symphony No 6, C                                                                                           1817-18

590       Overture, D, “in the Italian style”                      (as piano duet, D592)                1817

591       Overture, C, “in the Italian style”                      (as piano duet, D597)                1817

615       Symphony, D                                                   (sketches for 2 movements)       1818

648       Overture, E minor                                             (possibly for ‘Adrast’)                1819

708a     Symphony, D, sketches                                                                                     after 1820

729       Symphony No 7, E, sketched in score                                                                1821

759       Symphony No 8, B minor: ‘Unfinished’                                                             1822

849       ‘Gmunden-Gastein’ Symphony                          (probably identical with D944)  1825

936a     Symphony No 10, D, sketches                                                                           mid 1828

944       Symphony No 9, C: ‘The Great’                                                                         1825-?1828

Steve 2011 face only (2)


Old myths die hard. ‘Little mushroom’ his friends called him: a shy genius who dashed off masterpieces as if he were in a daydream, who hid from the girls he adored from afar. The hero of Lilac Time and a dozen sentimental fictions.

The truth is another world. Schubert knew he was living out a life sentence, imposed upon himself when he caught syphilis under astonishing circumstances. He was a man whose life is only now yielding up its secrets; and they cast a tragic light on his artistry. Its scope ranges from the contemplation of suicide to the best-loved classical music in the world.

Schubert knew that he was the successor to Beethoven, yet often he was too poor to pay his shoemaker. He has cast a spell over generations, but his triumph over himself – like his music – seems uniquely and compellingly relevant to us today.

Stephen Jackson trained as a psychologist. He now works as a writer and film-maker on the arts and classical

music. A researcher for Christopher Nupen’s documen­tary The Greatest Love, The Greatest Sorrow (which won the Crystal Award at the 1994 Prague Festival), he has acted as a consultant on Schubert for many projects.


PAVILION                         ISBN 1-85793-987-5        

Radu Lupu: Moment Musical D780 No 2


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