Musical talent and world famous composer
On January 31st, 1797, the world-famous composer Franz Schubert was born, the 12th child in his family, in a one-and-a-half-room apartment in “Himmelpfortgrund”, in what is now the ninth district of Vienna. He spent his early years here in the simple Pawlatschenhaus (terrace house), with a courtyard and a small garden; it was here that his father taught him piano and violin, and here that his musical talent first revealed itself.
“Verily, in Schubert there lives a divine spark!” Ludwig van Beethoven on his colleague Franz Schubert.
Successfully survived smallpox, good school reports and a good voice…
were the admission criteria to the Kaiserliche Stadtkonvikt (imperial choir boys’ school), in which the eleven-year-old Franz was enrolled in 1808. He wrote his first piece for piano in 1810, his first symphony in 1813, and from then on he hardly spent a minute without his music sheets – the 16-year-old developed into a veritable musical workaholic. In 1814 alone he produced his first opera, several string quartets and more than 20 Lieder (songs). He reputedly wore his glasses even when sleeping so that he could note down his ideas if inspiration struck.
Schubert hardly left Vienna during the 31 years of his brief life, but remained incredibly productive up until his death.
His oeuvre comprises six masses, 16 operas and light operas, 19 pieces for orchestra, 12 piano sonatas, over 30 chamber music pieces and more than 600 Lieder (songs) including the famous song-cycles “Die schöne Müllerin” and “Winterreise”.
The public only began to take an interest in Schubert’s music toward the end of his life. Today Franz Schubert is considered, along with Beethoven, to be the originator of romantic music in the German-speaking world, and his Lieder and masses are hugely popular. Vienna honours its musical son with numerous streets and squares named for him, monuments, memorial plaques, a grave of honour in the Vienna Zentralfriedhof (Central Cemetery), and the museums in the houses of Schubert’s birth and death.
Text: Nina Lucia Groß, Fotos: Christine Wurnig