Franz Peter Schubert (31 January 1797 – 19 November 1828) was an Austrian composer. In a short lifespan of just nearly 32 years, Schubert was a prolific composer, writing some 600 Lieder, nine symphonies (including the famous "Unfinished Symphony"), liturgical music, operas, some incidental music, and a large body of chamber and solo piano music.
Schubert did not regard himself as a song-composer who also wrote sonatas, or a symphonist who tries his hand at masses, dances and quartets. He saw himself as a composer, and was a devoted, workaholic example of the species, combining the relish and wonder of an amateur with the discipline and technical rigor of a professional.
Many of Schubert's works have become standard repertoire pieces, such as his song-cycles 'Die schöne Müllerin' ('The beautiful girl from the mill') and 'Die Winterreise' ('The Winter Journey'), the 'Great C Major' Symphony and the 'Unfinished' Symphony (which was left unfinished long before his death), the 'Trout' Quintet, and the String Quintet. Many of them exquisitely portray feelings of melancholy, longing and despair.
Schubert never abandoned his ambition to write a successful opera. Much of the music is of high quality (especially in "Alfonso und Estrella," "Fierabras" and the attractive Easter oratorio "Lazarus," closely related to the operas), showing individuality of style in both accompanied recitative and orchestral colour if little sense of dramatic progress.
The music of Schubert's early years is often very happy, whereas the music of his last years is often more melancholic. But if you listen carefully in these pieces you nearly always find something positive at the end. This was Schubert's feelings during his last five years. At that time he was suffering from a bad venereal disease. It took much of his strength. Schubert believed that he would meet something better after his death.
The music of Franz Schubert is cherished for its beautiful flow of melody, melody that runs through the composer’s songs and instrumental compositions like a clear and inexhaustible stream. But Schubert was more than just a gifted melodist. He was also the creator of exquisite symphonies in the classical tradition.
An enormously prolific composer despite his tragically short life, Schubert wrote over six hundred songs, nine symphonies, five masses, and numerous piano compositions. Only about twenty-five percent of his compositions had been published at the time of his death, but musicians and audiences nevertheless recognized that Schubert was a remarkable talent. As the poet Franz Grillparzer wrote on the inscription of Schubert’s grave, “The art of music has here entombed a rich treasure but even fairer hopes.”
A major reason for Franz Schubert's lack of material success was due to the fact that he lived at the same time and in the same city as Beethoven and, in effect disappeared in the older man's shadow. In May of 1827 he visited the dying Beethoven and a few days later acted as one of the torch bearers in Beethoven's funeral procession. Some remarked that "the torch of genius is being passed down from Beethoven to Schubert."
Although a skilled pianist and violinist, [Schubert] was neither a virtuoso performer nor a flamboyant conductor who could promote his own work on the public stage. Many of his orchestra compositions were never performed publicly, and only his chamber music and songs were able to be performed in smaller social gatherings. The lack of significant publication and performance meant that his income was rather meagre. Schubert was not completely devoid of supporters though. Over several years he gathered an intensely loyal group of associates who enjoyed his music and did what they could to support the young composer and promote his music.
Until at least the 1928 centenary of his death, Schubert was seen primarily as an intuitive composer who spent his life as a happy, half-cut Bohemian and brought wonderful music into the world without quite gnawing how. […] After the Second World War cold facts about his background were deployed to dispel the myth of the carefree minstrel, and a different picture became set in concrete - that of a man sorely tired, living nude a horribly oppressive regime, afflicted through his own miscalculation with a horrible disease that was bound to bring an untimely end
Franz Schubert is considered one of the greatest composers and is one of the most frequently played composers today. His melodic and harmonic music was praised by Ludwig van Beethoven, and inspired composers like Franz Liszt, Robert Schumann and Felix Mendelssohn who collected and championed his works.