Franz SchubertFranz Schubert 1797-1828

Austrian composer. He learned violin from his schoolteacher father and piano from his brother. He joined the precursor of the Vienna Boys Choir (1808), making such quick progress that Antonio Salieri undertook to guide his training (1810­16). At his family's insistence, he was trained as a schoolteacher. In 1815 he wrote 2 symphonies, more than 100 songs, and 4 stage works. In 1818, seeking independence, he quit teaching at his father's school to tutor Johann Esterházy's daughters. In 1819­20 he wrote the celebrated Trout Quintet and a mass. In 1821, 20 of his most popular songs were published with great success, and he wrote the three-act opera Alfonso und Estrella. Despite his first awareness of the disease (possibly syphilis) that would kill him, his amazing production continued in 1822, with the Unfinished Symphony and the Wanderer Fantasy. He was often ill during his last five years but continued his production of music, including the song cycles The Miller's Beautiful Daughter and Winter Journey, the last three piano sonatas, and the Great Symphony. His last years were made miserable by illness, not poverty; in fact, his greatness was widely recognized. He died at 31, having produced more masterpieces by that age than almost any other composer in history. His 600 songs made the lied a serious genre and sparked its great development in subsequent decades.


Courtesy of Britannica Concise Encyclopedia. 2003.