At the crossroads between Classicism and Romanticism, composer Schubert did not have any direct heirs in the first Romantic composers. Behind a rich and varied corpus of works, he is considered as the father of lied.
Franz Schubert was initially taught violin by his father and piano by his brother, Ignace, before continuing his musical studies (in singing, viola, organ, counterpoint and harmony) with Michael Holzer, the organist of the Lichtental Parish. He then became a chorister at the Royal Chapel in Vienna and took lessons with Salieri from 1809 to 1813, at Stadtkonvikt (the municipal school) in Vienna where he was also violinist in the orchestra. This introduced him to the works of Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven. Schubert then acted as a teacher’s assistant in his father’s school for a few years but realised he had an exceptional gift for music and decided to devote himself entirely to composition.
Although it might be said that Schubert's instrumental and symphonic works were dwarfed in the shadow of Beethoven, his lieder have a distinctive voice. Though lieder later came back into fashion, with Mozart, Hadyn, and Beethoven’s To the Distant Beloved (1816), Schubert has incontestably remained the father of Romantic German lieder. His first masterpiece of the genre was Gretchen am Spinnrade D118 (1814). In his most prolific early period he mainly explored Goethe’s writings before turning to works by other poets such as Rückert, Shakespeare and Wilhelm Müller.
During his lifetime Schubert’s music was only ever performed to the elite as part of musical evenings called Schubertiades. The first public concerts of his work took place a few months before his death. Much of Schubert’s work was therefore not discovered, edited and performed until after his death.
Six Landmark Dates in the Life of Franz Schubert
1808 – Admitted as a chorister in the Chapel of the Imperial Court due to his beautiful voice and ability to read music
1813 – He left the Chapel to pursue composing
1816 – He moved in with his friend, the poet Schober
1818 – He left his role at his father’s school to work as a music tutor for Count Estehazy’s family for the summer
1828 – First public concert, solely featuring his works, in Vienna
1865 - Posthumous premiere of his unfinished 8th Symphony
Five Key Works by Franz Schubert
1814 : Gretchen am Spinnrade 1822 : Unfinished Symphony in B minor
1823 : Die schöne Müllerin, partly composed in hospital
1827 : Winterreise
1828 : Quintet for piano and strings D. 667
1828 : Mass in E flat major