Franz Schubert


Franz Peter Schubert

Born: 31 January 1797, Vienna
Died: 19 November 1828, Vienna

Distinguished by the melodic inventiveness of his compositions, Franz Peter Schubert was an Austrian composer whose works spanned across the latter period of the Classical era and into the Romantic one. Much like the poets whose works inspired his compositions, he is considered unparalleled in his mastery of lyrical beauty. Appreciation of Schubert's music while he was alive was limited to a relatively small circle of admirers in Vienna, but interest in his work increased significantly in the decades following his death. Today, Schubert is ranked among the greatest composers of Western classical music.

Schubert was born in a suburb of Vienna, on January 31, 1797, to a schoolmaster father and a homemaker mother. The family was rather musical and cultivated the prodigious gifts exhibited by their young son to the best of their abilities before sending him to the Stadtkonvkit school in 1808, where he immersed himself in the study of the orchestral works of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven and was trained to one day sing at the chapel of the Imperial Court. His instructors, Wenzel Ruzicka, the imperial court organist, and, later, the esteemed composer Antonio Salieri, saw in the young Schubert the makings of a musical genius and he was quickly promoted to leader of the student’s orchestra. Some short years later, however, Schubert's voice broke and he had no choice but to leave the college and return home to live with his father.

In 1814, Schubert enrolled at a teacher's training college in Vienna and took a job as an assistant at his father's school. He continued on as a schoolmaster until 1818, having been rejected for military service due to his short stature. He had also continued his instruction under Salieri, however, and, despite being characterized as a rather shy character, continued to compose at a prolific rate. By 1814, he had completed several piano pieces, string quartets, a symphony, and a three-act opera. His dedication bore fruit when, in 1821, Schubert was accepted into the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde as a performing member. This induction enabled him to make a name for himself amongst the Viennese audience. With the assistance of some companions, Schubert began to offer up compositions on a subscription basis and was thereby able to secure a modest influx of funds. His harmonious songs and dances became great favourites with Viennese listeners and soon musical soirees — aptly named “Schubertiads” — appeared on the social calendars of the city’s well-to-do.

But by the winter of 1822, Schubert’s fortunes were dealt a perilous blow. With his income still rather meagre and the friendships upon which he relied becoming strained, he fell ill with a serious illness. It is believed by most historians that the 25 year old Schubert had contracted syphilis. Thus, the following year was spent withdrawn from the public eye, attempting to recover. Despite his beleaguered health, Schubert continued to compose almost constantly, producing some of his greatest compositions. Weak and debilitated by illness, Schubert spent his final days with his brother, Ferdinand. He died on November 19, 1828, at the age of 31 in Vienna, and was buried by his own reqest in the suburban cemetary of Währing next to Beethoven.  The bodies of both composers were subsequently removed to Vienna’s Central Cemetery.

Despite his short life, Schubert was remarkably prolific, writing over 1,500 works in his brief career. He is especially known for his over 600 songs for solo voice and piano (Lieder), above all his three great song cycles, “Die Schöne Müllerin,” “Winterreise” and “Schwanengesang.” He also wrote numerous stage works, masses, eight orchestral overtures and seven complete symphonies, in addition to fragments of six others.  His large body of music for solo piano include eleven completed sonatas and numerous miscellaneous works.  In addition to producing a large set of works for piano four hands, Schubert wrote over 50 chamber works, including 14 String Quartets and his String Quintet in C major composed in 1828 and completed just two months before the composer's death. It is generally regarded as Schubert's finest chamber work as well as one of the greatest compositions in all chamber music.

Online Performances

Musical selections curated by our founding director, Professor Franz Szabo.

Notturno in E-flat Major, Op. posth. 148, D. 897
Netherlands Chamber Orchestra
Gordan Nikolić, violin (concert master)
Lucas Jussen, piano
Sietse-Jan Weijenberg, cello
Live from the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, 15 January 2018

Piano Trio No. 2 in E-flat Major, Op. 100, D. 929
Horszowski Trio
Rieko Aizawa, piano
Jesse Mills, violin
Raman Ramakrishnan, cello
Live from Fisher Center, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York
Bard Festival, 15 August 2014.

String Quartet No. 13 in A minor, Op. 29, D. 804 "Rosamunde" 
Escher String Quartet
Adam Barnett-Hart and Aaron Boyd, violins
Pierre Lapointe, viola; Brook Speltz, cello
Live from the La Jolla Summerfest 2015

String Quartet No. 14 in D minor, D. 810 “Death and the Maiden”
Alban Berg Quartett
Günter Pichler and Gerhard Schulz, violins;
Thomas Kakuska, viola; Valentin Erben, Cello
Live from the Konzerthaus, Vienna, 1996

String Quintet in C Major, Op. posth. 163, D. 956
Emerson String Quartet
1st violin: Philip Setzer, 2nd violin: Eugene Drucker, Viola: Lawrence Dutton,
1st cello: Paul Watson, 2nd cello: David Finckel
Parlance Chamber Concerts
Live from the West Side Presbyterian Church in Ridgewood, NJ, 16 December 2018

Piano Quintet in A major, D. 667, " Trout"
The Schubert Ensemble
Simon Blendis, violin; Douglas Paterson, viola; Jane Salmon, cello;
Peter Buckoke, double bass; William Howard, piano
Recorded live at the Wigmore Hall in London, 21st March 2018
The Schubert Ensemble's farewell London concert.

Octet in F Major, D. 803
Antje Weithaas, Violin; Alina Pogostkina, Violin; Veronika Hagen, Viola;
Sol Gabetta, Cello; Robert Vizvari, Double Bass; Alejandro Núñez, Horn; 
Gustavo Núñez, Bassoon; Sabine Meyer, clarinet
Recorded live at Solsberg Festival, Basel, Switzerland, 2016

Sonata in A minor for Arpeggione and Piano, D. 821 (arrangement for cello)
Tanya Anisimov, cello,
Pi-Hsun Shih, piano
Audio and video recorded mixed and edited at Blue House Productions
Kensington, Maryland, 2014

Hungarian Melody in B minor, D. 817
Dora Deliyska, piano
Recorded at the Liszt Zentrum, Raiding, Burgenland, 19 December 2012

Piano Sonata No. 13 in A major, Op. posth. 120, D. 664
Alexander Gavrylyuk, piano
Live from the Kraków Philharmonic, Kraków, Poland
Copernicus Festival, 2015

Piano Sonata in B-flat Major, D. 960
Severin von Eckardstein, piano
Young Pianists Festival Amsterdam, 2013
Live from the Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ

Fantasy in C Major, Op. 15, D. 760 ("Der Wanderer”)
Garrick Ohlsson, piano
Live from the Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, Texas, USA, 5 April 2016

Four Impromptus, Op. 90, D. 899,
Alfred Brendel, piano
Recorded by Radio Bremen, Germany, 1976-1977

Drei Klavierstücke, D. 946
Yulianna Avdeeva, piano
Live from the Concert Hall of the Mariinsky Theatre,
St. Petersburg, Russia, 17 April 2014

Fantasy for Piano Four Hands in F minor, Op. 103, D. 940
Maria-João Pires and Lilit Grigoryan, piano
Live from the Sala Verdi, Milan, Italy, 16 February 2016
Società del Quartetto di Milano concerts

Der Gondelfahrer, Op. 28, D. 809
Wiener Männergesang Verein
Kyoko Yoshizawa, piano
Antal Barnás, conductor
Live from the Musikverein, Vienna

Nachthelle, Op. 134, D. 892
D.J. Pick, tenor soloist
The Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles
Michael Alfera, piano
Cristian Grases, conductor
Live from Los Angeles, March 2011

Ständchen, Op. posth. 135, D. 920
Elisabeth Kulman, Mezzosoprano,
György Handl, piano
Men of the Chorus sine nomine
Johannes Hiemetsberger, direcor
Live from the Atelierhaus der Akademie der bildenden Künste, Vienna
Festkonzert zum 25-Jahr-Jubiläum des Chorus sine nomine am 18. Juni 2016

Der Hirt auf dem Felsen, D. 965 (The Shepherd on the Rock)
Julia Kleiter, soprano
Shirley Brill, clarinet
Michael Gees, piano
Schubertiade in Schwarzenberg, Hohenems, Austria, 2011

An die Musik, D. 547
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone
Gerald Moore, piano
Recorded by the BBC, 1962

Die Forelle, Op. 32, D. 550
Gavan Ring, tenor
Jonathan Ware, piano
Live from Wigmore Hall, London, 2016

Ellens Gesang iii, D. 839 (Ave Maria)
Renée Fleming, soprano
Evgeny Kissin, piano
recorded during the Covid 19 crisis on their phones
in Prague and Virginia, respectively, 2020

Erlkönig, D. 328
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone
Gerald Moore, piano
Recorded by the BBC, 1962

Gretchen am Spinnrade, Op. 2, D. 118
Marina Rebeka, soprano
Giulio Zappa, piano
Rosenblatt Recitals video, London, 18 April 2012

Lied der Mignon (Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt), Op. 62, D 877:iv
Lisette Oropesa, soprano
Vlad Iftinca, piano
Live from the Theatre of the Arts at the University of DC, 11 March 2017

Fischerweise, D. 881
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone
Sviatoslav Richter, piano
From a German telecast, 1978

Im Frühling, D. 882
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone
Sviatoslav Richter, piano
From a German telecast, 1978

Seligkeit, D. 433
Nika Gorič, soprano
Jonathan Ware, piano
Live from Wigmore Hall, London, April 2017

Auf dem Wasser zu singen, D. 774
Kateryna Kasper, soprano
Tiffany Butt, piano
From the Mirjam Helin International Singing Competition 2014

Die Schöne Müllerin, Op. 25, D. 795
Thomas Oliemans, Baritone
Malcolm Martineau, Piano
Live from de Kleine Zaal of the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, 8 July 2013

Winterreise, D. 911
Ian Bostridge, tenor
Saskia Giorgini, Piano
Live from de Grote Zaal van Tivoli Vredenburg.
Internationaal Kamermuziek Festival Utrecht, 2016.

Schwanengesang, D. 957
(with Wanderers Nachtlied 1 as encore)
Thomas Oliemans, Baritone
Malcolm Martineau, Piano
Live from de Kleine Zaal of the Concertgebouw, 17 July 2013.

Mass No. 6, D. 950
Christina Landshamer, soprano; Marie-Claude Chappuis, alto;
Maximilian Schmitt, tenor 1; Sebastian Kohlhepp, tenor 2; Florian Boesch, bass
Groot Omroepkoor
Radio Filharmonisch Orkest
Philippe Herreweghe, conductor
Live from TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht , 12 december 2014

Deutsche Messe, D. 872
Yana Ivanilova, Soprano I; Naomi Zlotina, Soprano II; Lyudmila Borisova, Alto; Valentin Gutov, Tenor; Eugene Liberman, Bass
Moscow Oratorio
The Chamber Choir of the Gnessin College, Petr Savinkov, director
The ensemble of the wind instruments from the Moscow Symphony Orchestra
Alexander Tsaliuk, conductor
Live from the Moscow International House of Music, 2014

Symphony No. 8 in B minor, D. 759 (“Unfinished”)
Vienna Symphony Orchestra
Philippe Jordan, conductor
Paris, November 2014

Symphony No. 9 C major, D. 944 (“The Great”)
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Nikolaus Harnoncourt, conductor
Live from the Salzburg Festival, 2009
Opening Concert

Watch the full collection of performances on our YouTube channel!