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House Of Sensibilities


Franz Peter Schubert
b.Vienna,Austria 31 January 1797
d.Vienna,Austria 19 November 1828

Franz Schubert was born the son of a school master who expected him to follow the same career. Being obedient to his father, Schubert did teach for a brief period but soon realized his true calling was in music.

Schubert had a good voice and sang in the Vienna Boys' Choir (still in existence today) until his voice broke. Vocal music was to remain a penchant of Schubert's music for the rest of his life, for he wrote some of the greatest lieder (German art songs) ever. He had a genius for melody and in his short life of 31 years, he composed over 600 songs, many of them still in the repertoire today.

Schubert was never a great pianist himself but his piano works, especially the short pieces (Impromptus, Moment Musicas) and the sonatas are the staple of the modern day piano repertoire. He also managed to write one of the most technically exhausting and monumental works of all time, the "Wanderer Fantasie". In this great work, his employment of thematic development devices was to influence Liszt and to some extent, even the leitmotive so much associated with Wagner.

Schubert was also a great symphonist, writing 9 symphonies and leaving a number incomplete. In his later symphonies, the influence of Beethoven was evident and his technical mastery of the orchestra together with his superb use of thematic development and counterpoint was everywhere in the scores.

Although Schubert wrote in many genres, his fundamental gift of lyricism influenced all his works. He could conjure up a melody with so much ease that he was dubbed the "tunesmith". Already ill with syphillis by 1823, a further attack of typhoid fever killed this most unassuming and sincere composer in 1828.

(A more comprehensive biography to follow soon)

My favourite Schubert works


Schubert certainly deserves his title "King of the Lieder". Some wonderful works include the narrative "Erl-King", I think after listening to Dieskau's rendition of it, nobody will come close to him, he's got such a lovely expressive voice and is so sensitive to every nuance of the song. There are other lovely songs written for the female voice such as "The Sheperd on the Rock", "Ganymede", "Gretchen at the Spinning wheel", "The Trout" and so on.

Piano Works
Some people argue that Schubert's piano writings are not exactly "pianistic", well, they certainly are really taxing! Listen to the Wanderer's Fantasie, perhaps one of the most demanding pieces in the repertoire. I love his Sonata D664, it's a piece I never get tired of playing-the opening movement is so full of graceful tunes.

Piano Trio No.1

I can't get enough of this trio! Everytime I play it on the CD player, I will keep pressing the back button to listen to it again and again. Just listen to the F Major subject introduced by the cello in the opening movement to be convinced how profoundly beautiful this work is.

Schubert Picture Gallery


The King of Lieder


The prolific composer hard at work


Schubert at his country walk


Schubert's death mask


Schubert's grave

Created on 15/4/2001
Updated on 19/9/2001