Franz Schubert (1797 -1828)
One of the most famous musicians of the 19th century; he is the grand master of the romantic lied (almost six hundred lieder)
Franz Schubert was born on January 31, 1797 in a suburb of Vienna, in Lichtental. His father is a schoolmaster, his mother a cook. His father taught him Latin, mathematics and the violin. His brother Ignaz gives him his first piano lessons. He is a pupil of Michael Holzer, the organist of the church who taught him the organ, the song and the composition.
Fellow at the chapel of the court of Vienna (1808) Schubert is first violin there. Antonio Salieri who was Beethoven's professor, noticed this and taught him composition (1808 - 1813). He composed his first lieder: Marguerite au rouet (Gretchen am Spinnrade) after Faust de Goethe in 1814, the King of alders (Der Erlkönig) in 1815, also on a poem by Goethe.
After having been a school teacher for a few years, Schubert went to Hungary as music master for the daughters of Count Esterhàzy in their holiday resort of Zséliz (summer 1818). In love with freedom, Schubert travels with his friends musicians, singers and poets but spends most of his short existence in Vienna.
Of a generous character, He lives poorly and devotes his whole life to music. Surrounded by friends, he organizes "schubertiades" musical and literary meetings in the private setting of a lounge where he presents his lieder (piano and voice, piano and choir) and plays the piano.
From 1822, the music of Schubert tired by the disease, became serious and more moving, like the lied of The young girl and death composed in 1824. In addition, his financial difficulties forced him to return to the service of the Esterhàzy for summer 1824, six years after his first stay.
But, his health deteriorating further, he had to give up his social life and gradually cut himself off from the Viennese public, sometimes even from his friends. Symphony #8 “Unfinished” dates from this period. Beethoven, whom he admired, died in Vienna on March 26, 1827, without daring to meet him.
As if freed from a paralyzing guardian presence, he entrusted La Symphonie #9 known as the Grande Symphonie to his friends and composed the upsetting and painful Voyage d'Hiver (Die Winterreise). It is the second great cycle of lieder in which Schubert takes up poems by Wilhelm Müller, the first being La Belle meunière (Die schone Müllerin) composed in 1823. This last great cycle, twenty-four Lieder on the theme of the journey of the loneliness and illusion, leads the art of the lied to its summit. It was presented in the fall of 1827.
The last schubertiade takes place in January 1828. During his last summer and until his death in November 1828, Schubert regained a prodigious energy to complete / coveromplete, a harvest of major works: the Four-Handed Fantasy dedicated to the Countess Caroline Esterházy, the Symphony #9 known as la Grande, three ultimate Piano Sonatas n ° 19, 20 and 21. Fourteen lieder will appear under the posthumous title of Swan song (Schwanengesang).
Franz Schubert died on November 19, 1828, at the age of 31. In 1888 he joined Beethoven in the musicians' quarter in the central cemetery of Vienna (Zentralfriedhof).
© Didier Chagnas
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