Why was Franz Schubert disliked during his lifetime?

Eetu Pellonpää
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Why was Franz Schubert disliked during his lifetime?

Post by Eetu Pellonpää » Mon Feb 05, 2007 3:30 pm

A question from a not-so-pro listener: Why was Franz Schubert disliked during his lifetime?

I wondered this, as I understood that he was admitted as a genius by his tutors. Alsothespeed how the young composer worked is unbelievable. Were the some stylistical elements in his stuff, disturbing his audiences / critics?

Hopefully this subject hafven't been discussed to boredom, I haven't had time to check out the threads here for a while!

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Post by Werner » Mon Feb 05, 2007 4:37 pm

I'm not aware of any particular "dislike" of Schubert during his lifetime. He did not live a glamorous life, but I am under the impression that he had his circle of friends, had his "Schubertiads," and led a busy and productive life -as he would have to, considering the volume of works he turned out in the little time he had.
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Re: Why was Franz Schubert disliked during his lifetime?

Post by Corlyss_D » Mon Feb 05, 2007 4:42 pm

Eetu Pellonpää wrote:Why was Franz Schubert disliked during his lifetime?
What makes you think he was?
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Agnes Selby
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Re: Why was Franz Schubert disliked during his lifetime?

Post by Agnes Selby » Mon Feb 05, 2007 4:59 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:
Eetu Pellonpää wrote:Why was Franz Schubert disliked during his lifetime?
What makes you think he was?
-----------------

Corlyss asks a very good question. It has never occured to me that
Schubert suffered from loneliness or from being disliked. He had many friends and wonderful times making music. I have never come across
anything which would make me believe that he was actually disliked by anyone.

Perhaps it was his neighbour who just could not stand all that "noise"? :wink:

Regards,
Agnes.
--------------------

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Re: Why was Franz Schubert disliked during his lifetime?

Post by Corlyss_D » Mon Feb 05, 2007 5:21 pm

Agnes Selby wrote:Perhaps it was his neighbour who just could not stand all that "noise"? :wink:

Regards,
Agnes.
--------------------
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

Another Post of the Day Award to you, Agnes.
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Brendan

Post by Brendan » Mon Feb 05, 2007 5:35 pm

Schubert died too young to receive the acclaim that posterity has rightly given to his work. Even now, as one biographer has noted, every book about Schubert mentions Beethoven numerous times: few works on Beethoven bother to mention Schubert, even as legacy. I'm sure there are exceptions, but as a generalization it seems about right.

His bitterness about Rossini's success is well documented: Schubert, one of the greatest composers for the human voice who ever lived (his lieder are just glorious) never wrote an opera or looked like getting a commission to do so, whilst Rossini was turning them down.

But he had his admirers and close circle of musical friends. Dying so young, and so soon after his idol LvB, didn't give either him or a popular audience time to appreciate his genius. But popularity may have eluded him anyway.

Can't help but think of Brendel's comment that every day of his life he has found some reason to be outraged about the early death of Schubert.

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Re: Why was Franz Schubert disliked during his lifetime?

Post by Agnes Selby » Mon Feb 05, 2007 6:17 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:
Agnes Selby wrote:Perhaps it was his neighbour who just could not stand all that "noise"? :wink:

Regards,
Agnes.
--------------------
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

Another Post of the Day Award to you, Agnes.
---------------

Thank you, Corlyss. I am speaking here from experience. Kathy. our daughter was given a Steinway piano by the Curtis Institute as all piano students did at Curtis at the time. She would practice in our apartment in Rittenshouse Square betwee the hours of 3p.m. - 6.00p.m. One day a gentleman arrived at our door and thrust a document into my hands. It was summons for Kathy (then a minor) to appear in Court.

Kathy was being sued for making "noise". It was through sheer good luck
that our nice lawyer discovered by some mirracle that our upstairs neighbour had afternoon sessions with his secretary and had recently seen his doctor because he could not "perform". He blamed it on the silly Beethoven and Mozart "tunes" and definitely on the Bartok No. 3 piano concerto.

The case was thrown out of Court with the recommendation that the neighbour practice his performances after 6.00 p.m.

Regards,
Agnes.

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Post by Ralph » Mon Feb 05, 2007 6:22 pm

Now if that neighbor had fueled his libido with Dittersdorf.........
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Post by Joe Barron » Mon Feb 05, 2007 6:27 pm

Gee, Agnes, I didn't know you had lived in Philadelphia. I'm a local boy, myself. And Curtis, too! I interviewed Gary Graffman a couple of weeks ago. You can read the article here.

As for Schubert, I have read that some of his music was considered unplayable in his lifetime --- and for some time thereafter --- because of its length.

He was also kind of spotty.

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Re: Why was Franz Schubert disliked during his lifetime?

Post by Sapphire » Mon Feb 05, 2007 7:02 pm

Eetu Pellonpää wrote:A question from a not-so-pro listener: Why was Franz Schubert disliked during his lifetime?

I wondered this, as I understood that he was admitted as a genius by his tutors. Alsothespeed how the young composer worked is unbelievable. Were the some stylistical elements in his stuff, disturbing his audiences / critics?

Hopefully this subject hafven't been discussed to boredom, I haven't had time to check out the threads here for a while!
I happen to know a good bit about Schubert. I can 100% assure you that you are utterly mistaken on this assertion. Where on earth did you read such rubbish. The contrary was true. He was greatly liked. He had a wide circle of friends on whom he relied for constant help and support. Any source will tell you this. I can't believe you are serious. Are you?

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Post by Werner » Mon Feb 05, 2007 7:08 pm

Well, Agnes, I'm glad that Kathy is still "making noise!"
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Post by Wallingford » Mon Feb 05, 2007 7:26 pm

No, Schubert wasn't disliked during his time....it seemed merely a matter of apathy on the public's part. But there WERE those who knew enough about his exceptional quality: that circle of friends who organized the "Schubertiade."
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Never mattered we were always ok
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Post by Agnes Selby » Mon Feb 05, 2007 7:37 pm

Werner wrote:Well, Agnes, I'm glad that Kathy is still "making noise!"
:lol: :lol: :lol:

Yes, so am I.

Regards,
Agnes.

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Re: Why was Franz Schubert disliked during his lifetime?

Post by Corlyss_D » Mon Feb 05, 2007 8:01 pm

Agnes Selby wrote:Kathy was being sued for making "noise". It was through sheer good luck that our nice lawyer discovered by some mirracle that our upstairs neighbour had afternoon sessions with his secretary and had recently seen his doctor because he could not "perform". He blamed it on the silly Beethoven and Mozart "tunes" and definitely on the Bartok No. 3 piano concerto.
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

I can't give the award again, but I can give you the pink noodle cluster for special achievement to go with your award.

This opens up a whole new field for the use of Viagra.
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Post by piston » Mon Feb 05, 2007 8:06 pm

Kabalevsky's piano concertos are softer than Bartok's.
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

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Post by Gurn Blanston » Mon Feb 05, 2007 10:06 pm

I am inferring that the OP is referring to Schubert's music, not Schubert the person.

It isn't so much that it was disliked, rather it was considered outré by the more conservative majority. And also, let's separate the Lieder from his operatic attempts and instrumental music. His Lieder were an instant hit. It is a common misconception that none of his work was published during his lifetime, but his Lieder were mainly published, and in fact, he was the single most published composer in Vienna in the mid-1820's. But not, sadly, his instrumental music. His harmonic schemes were considered bizarre, and as someone said above, his works were quite lengthy. "Too many notes, Franzrl, too many notes". :)

8)
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Brendan

Post by Brendan » Mon Feb 05, 2007 10:31 pm

Well, I didn't know about the operas, but biographies of Schubert often say things like this:
In 1820, Schubert was commissioned by two opera houses, the Karthnerthor Theatre and Theatre-an-der-Wein, to compose a pair of operas. He wrote Zwillingsbruden, and Zauberharfe, both of which were unenthusiastically received. Schubert failed to secure a contract with a publisher, as none were willing to take a chance on a relatively unknown composer who wrote (harmonically) untraditional music. Schubert, along with the support of his artistic friends, published his own work for a collection of roughly 100 subscribers. These efforts, however, were financially unrewarding, and Schubert struggled to sustain himself. His work garnered little attention and contemporary composers dismissed his music as presumptuous and immature.
From http://www.answers.com/topic/franz-schubert

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Post by Corlyss_D » Mon Feb 05, 2007 10:45 pm

Gurn Blanston wrote:I am inferring that the OP is referring to Schubert's music, not Schubert the person.

It isn't so much that it was disliked, rather it was considered outré by the more conservative majority. And also, let's separate the Lieder from his operatic attempts and instrumental music. His Lieder were an instant hit. It is a common misconception that none of his work was published during his lifetime, but his Lieder were mainly published, and in fact, he was the single most published composer in Vienna in the mid-1820's. But not, sadly, his instrumental music. His harmonic schemes were considered bizarre, and as someone said above, his works were quite lengthy. "Too many notes, Franzrl, too many notes". :)

8)
Thank you Gurn. I was going to say something about Schubert's operas, incidental music, and the tiresome masses, but I lacked sufficient memory to hang my authority on. His most successful compositions are extremely intimate. His larger works that would ordinarily guarantee a public following of some sort were dreck. (Thank you, Werner)
Last edited by Corlyss_D on Tue Feb 06, 2007 2:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Philadelphia

Post by Agnes Selby » Mon Feb 05, 2007 11:20 pm

[quote="Joe Barron"]Gee, Agnes, I didn't know you had lived in Philadelphia. I'm a local boy, myself. And Curtis, too! I interviewed Gary Graffman a couple of weeks ago. You can read the article here.

----------

Yes, we lived in Rittenhouse Square for a year and on the Main Line for
10 years. We have nice memories of Philadelphia and many friends there.

---------------------------

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Post by Ralph » Mon Feb 05, 2007 11:36 pm

I like Schubert, both the composer and the man! So there!!
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Post by Werner » Mon Feb 05, 2007 11:54 pm

And Drek - to spell it correctly, Dreck, is not applicable to any Schubert work I've heard - and I've heard more than a bit. That doesn't mean that all Franz - or Wolfgang, or Ludwig - wrote was up to their very best. Even these guys were human, you know. And the "too many notes" crack turned to heavenly lengths for lots of later listeners.

You don't have to go as far as the Ninth Symphony to find a great work for orchestra. And as a member of ther Riverdale Choral Society many years ago, I've sung in enough of his masses to find them good, fine, but certainly not tiresome.

With his songs, orchestral works, piano and chamber works, Franz remains one of music's great gifts to us.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Tue Feb 06, 2007 2:43 am

Werner wrote:And Drek - to spell it correctly, Dreck, is not applicable to any Schubert work I've heard
You can't have heard the masses. Turgid. Inert. Endless. Poi for the ears. Makes heavy metal sound divine by comparison.
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Post by Sapphire » Tue Feb 06, 2007 3:26 am

Corlyss_D wrote:[Thank you Gurn. I was going to say something about Schubert's operas, incidental music, and the tiresome masses, but I lacked sufficient memory to hang my authority on. His most successful compositions are extremely intimate. His larger works that would ordinarily guarantee a public following of some sort were dreck. (my bolding)
I spotted this thread late last night and made a quick response before calling it a day, basically saying that the idea that Schubert was disliked generally is totally incorrect. I have never heard anything like it before and I have been studying Schubert and his works for some time.

Just to pick up on a few detailed items:

1. This idea about "too many notes". It is sometimes referred to as Schubert's "prolixity". This word comes from part of Dvorak's assessment, see extract below:

  • If Schubert’s symphonies have a serious fault, it is prolixity; he does not know when to stop; but, if the repeats are omitted, a course of which I thoroughly approve and which, indeed, is now generally adopted, they are not too long. Schubert’s case, in fact, is not an exception to, but an illustration of, the general rule that symphonies are made too long.

As can be seen, it's a rather different story when it is read in context. The rest of Dvorak's assessment is glowing in admiration.

2. I also spotted the comment about about "no operas". I don't know what to say about that boo-boo.

3. It's standard knowledge that only very few of Schubert's orchestral works were published in his lifetime. They were still sorting out the details as late as the 1880's. As is well known, Schumann and later Brahms had a big hand in all this, and their very high admiration is well documented. Liszt too was most impressed. This bunch of composers, while very great, were not in the same league as Schubert when it came to melody. They often struggled; he rattled off good melody more or less instantly.

4. It was only Schubert's songs, and then not all, that were known quite well in his lifetime. Again, this is standard knowldege. Some of his early masses had gained some popularity, Mass 2, D 167 for example. Several of his piano solo and duo works were also circulating, and I think that Trout was known.

5. The comment quoted above about his "tiresome masses" leaves me feeling aghast. Given its authorship, I will simply bite my tongue except to say there is nothing tiresome about them unless you dislike Masses. On the contrary, they are extremely good and several were a staple of the R.C. liturgy for many a decade. If the word "tiresome" is relevant at all in the context of a Mass, then apply it to Bach's Mass in B Minor.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Tue Feb 06, 2007 3:43 am

Saphire wrote: The comment quoted above about his "tiresome masses" leaves me feeling aghast. *** [T]here is nothing tiresome about them unless you dislike Masses.
Glad I could accommodate, Saphire. De gustibus and all that . . . . I like masses just fine. Schubert's excepted. Come to think of it, I don't much care for anything Schubert wrote for more than eight instruments.
Given its authorship, I will simply bite my tongue


Oh, go ahead. If verbal abuse didn't roll off me like water off a duck's back, I couldn't stand to be here.
If the word "tiresome" is relevant at all in the context of a Mass, then apply it to Bach's Mass in B Minor.
Amen to that.
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Post by Jack Kelso » Tue Feb 06, 2007 9:52 am

Saphire wrote:It's standard knowledge that only very few of Schubert's orchestral works were published in his lifetime. They were still sorting out the details as late as the 1880's. As is well known, Schumann and later Brahms had a big hand in all this, and their very high admiration is well documented. Liszt too was most impressed. This bunch of composers, while very great, were not in the same league as Schubert when it came to melody. They often struggled; he rattled off good melody more or less instantly.
Oh-oh, Saphire. Now it's your turn for the boo-boo.

You can't in all fairness include Schumann in "this bunch of composers" who "often struggled" to make great melodies.

You're right about Liszt and Brahms, of course (that's been pointed out by many others), but Schumann is universally accepted as one of the greatest of melodists, right up there with Handel, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Bruckner, etc. Unless, of course, you regard Schubert's brand of melody (mostly light, sentimental Viennese) as being the yardstick by which all melody is judged.

I'm a little surprised at that comment since you claim to be a fan of Schumann's music. :shock:

Tschüß,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Post by Donald Isler » Tue Feb 06, 2007 10:54 am

To describe Schubert's brand of melody as "mostly light, sentimental Viennese" really does him a huge injustice. I can think of the melodies of some 16 bar Ländler, as well as themes from his symphonies and piano sonatas (I'm not even including his songs!) that are enormously deeper, and more varied than that.
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Post by johnQpublic » Tue Feb 06, 2007 11:17 am

Disliked is clearly not the right term. Not acknowledged is the better term

From Newbould's book "Schubert The Man and the Music":

"Schubert was no self-publicist. Composing the next piece was more important than having the last one performed."
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Post by Sapphire » Tue Feb 06, 2007 3:23 pm

Jack Kelso wrote:
Saphire wrote:It's standard knowledge that only very few of Schubert's orchestral works were published in his lifetime. They were still sorting out the details as late as the 1880's. As is well known, Schumann and later Brahms had a big hand in all this, and their very high admiration is well documented. Liszt too was most impressed. This bunch of composers, while very great, were not in the same league as Schubert when it came to melody. They often struggled; he rattled off good melody more or less instantly.
Oh-oh, Saphire. Now it's your turn for the boo-boo.

You can't in all fairness include Schumann in "this bunch of composers" who "often struggled" to make great melodies.

You're right about Liszt and Brahms, of course (that's been pointed out by many others), but Schumann is universally accepted as one of the greatest of melodists, right up there with Handel, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Bruckner, etc. Unless, of course, you regard Schubert's brand of melody (mostly light, sentimental Viennese) as being the yardstick by which all melody is judged.

I'm a little surprised at that comment since you claim to be a fan of Schumann's music. :shock:

Tschüß,
Jack

Jack:

Have no fear. I still love Schumann to bits.

Looking back, I can see the cause for possible confusion. I am being a very harsh critic indeed, and in the present context when I said "struggled" I didn't mean the other mentioned composers never got there, only that their efforts were not as spontaneous as Schubert's.

I do, though, disagree with your view that Schubert's melody was in any way light, if that is what you meant. On the contrary, he was capable of generating the most complex range of melody to suit a variety of moods.

Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann and Brahms are my top 4, and I am often torn between them. I feel guilty admitting to any difference in rank, as they’re all in a super league for me. Their pictures have pride of place on my shelf, overlooking the PC where I compose all the twaddle I post on here. I sometimes rotate their photos to make sure none feels left out. Oh, and there's one of Clara too, but I'm never too sure where to place her. I sometimes plonk her between Beethoven and Schubert where I know she's safe!

I hope I am forgiven.

Regards.


Saphire
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Post by jbuck919 » Tue Feb 06, 2007 4:37 pm

Jack Kelso wrote:You're right about Liszt and Brahms, of course (that's been pointed out by many others)....

I would like to know where it has been "pointed out by many others" or is as you imply some kind of consensus that Liszt and Brahms are deficient melodists. Both wrote fabulous melodies, though in the case of Liszt he did not always incorporate them into music that is also great in every other respect. And I have to think, not to speak for Saphire, that people are getting just the teensiest bit tired of feeling obliged to post that they appreciate Schumann when you imply that their appreciation is wanting in some sense because their appreciation does not rise to your exacting standards.

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Post by burnitdown » Tue Feb 06, 2007 11:14 pm

Gurn Blanston wrote:It isn't so much that it was disliked, rather it was considered outré by the more conservative majority.
Isn't that always the case?

As an aside, you ever BBS in H-town during the 1980s?

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Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Feb 07, 2007 1:36 am

Whoh, everybody!

I didn't know whom to quote, but I believe I might have stepped on a couple of toes here....

Yes, Donald is right, most of Schubert's melodies are NOT of the sentimental Viennese or Rossini-type, but some are.

Saphire---I guess I read you wrong. I thought you were speaking of the QUALITY of Schubert's melodies compared with Schumann's. There is nothing for me to forgive. I simply misunderstood.

No, John----people don't get into my "black book" if they don't praise Schumann----after all, you are a great apologist for Bach and Brahms, and rush to their aid when Handelians, Wagnerians and Brucknerians take aim, right?!

But in this case, many a seasoned listener and musician have questioned the emotional authenticity of some passages of Liszt's and Brahms' works....whether the themes were "inspired" or devised artificially, hammered out" if you will.

But---in the end---what does it matter what technique was used in the composing process if folks enjoy what they're experiencing?

Tschüß,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Post by Sapphire » Wed Feb 07, 2007 2:53 am

Further on this question about whether Schubert was "disliked during his lifetime", I think I may have rather misinterpreted the question. I assumed it meant "dislike" in the personal sense. But on reflection, it probably means something completely different: why was Schubert not "admired" during his lifetime?

It's true that Schubert's reputation grew enormously after his death, in fact some time after his death as very many of his works lay undiscovered for many a year. But why was this? The answer is not some accident of history. He was shy, self-conscious and diffident by nature, but he was not a recluse. He enjoyed company provided he was not the centre of adulation. He made only limited efforts to promote himself professionally. In fact, he shunned publicity. Outside of his bohemian-style of existence, and away from his circle of friends, he was like a fish out of water. He did not write music primarily for reward, but purely for joy and the need of composing. When he completed one work, he was far more interested in starting the next rather than promoting the last. In fact, he simply put many completed works aside for posterity. Thus, it was in the man's nature that things turned out the way they did; it was just the way he wanted it.

In the last year of his life, living in his brother's apartment, in my view he wrote some of the most sublime music ever, on a par with anything written by anyone else before or since. It's the only music on the planet that has quite the same effect on me. He died penniless, with insufficient funds to pay for his own funeral.


Saphire

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Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Feb 07, 2007 3:03 am

When I was in Grinzing, the part of Vienna where Schubert would go out eating and drinking, I was at this one inn where, I was told, Schubert would irritate the waiters by scribbling down some melody on a tablecloth, then reaching into his pocket for scissors and cutting out "his" portion of it, stuffing it in his jacket-pocket and sauntering home.

"Franz'l war wieder da!" (Little Franz was here again), became the usual response from the innkeeper. I don't believe they disliked him for it.

Jack
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Post by val » Wed Feb 07, 2007 8:21 am

I don't think that Schubert was disliked. Not very known perhaps. But his Lieder were appreciated. The piano Trio opus 100 was very well received.

Schubert's problem was that he died too young. Besides he was no virtuoso, like Mozart or Beethoven, and didn't compose any important opera, as Weber did with the Freischütz. His lifestyle didn't help: I think that many people in Wien in those years didn't take him too seriously.

walboi
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Joined: Sat Dec 24, 2005 7:31 am

Post by walboi » Wed Feb 07, 2007 11:30 am

O, dear, is it really important wether or not?
We love his music nowadays, and appriciate it properly by acknowledging the genius, right?
Why he was disliked?
Who cares! :!:
Harry

Sapphire
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Post by Sapphire » Wed Feb 07, 2007 12:34 pm

walboi wrote:O, dear, is it really important wether or not?
We love his music nowadays, and appriciate it properly by acknowledging the genius, right?
Why he was disliked?
Who cares! :!:
Harry
Well he wasn't disliked. Can't you read the above posts, all of which confirm the same rebuttal?

walboi
Posts: 212
Joined: Sat Dec 24, 2005 7:31 am

Post by walboi » Wed Feb 07, 2007 1:28 pm

Saphire wrote:
walboi wrote:O, dear, is it really important wether or not?
We love his music nowadays, and appriciate it properly by acknowledging the genius, right?
Why he was disliked?
Who cares! :!:
Harry
Well he wasn't disliked. Can't you read the above posts, all of which confirm the same rebuttal?
Your remark my dear friend has nothing to do with my statement!
Kindly leave such unfriendly remarks at home.

Joe Barron
Posts: 140
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Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Philadelphia

Post by Joe Barron » Wed Feb 07, 2007 1:46 pm

Agnes Selby wrote: Yes, we lived in Rittenhouse Square for a year and on the Main Line for
10 years. We have nice memories of Philadelphia and many friends there.
Well, then, you evidently didn't have the same experiences with this town that I've had. :wink:

Sapphire
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Post by Sapphire » Wed Feb 07, 2007 2:23 pm

walboi wrote:
Saphire wrote:
walboi wrote:O, dear, is it really important wether or not?
We love his music nowadays, and appriciate it properly by acknowledging the genius, right?
Why he was disliked?
Who cares! :!:
Harry
Well he wasn't disliked. Can't you read the above posts, all of which confirm the same rebuttal?
Your remark my dear friend has nothing to do with my statement!
Kindly leave such unfriendly remarks at home.
With respect, your comment has nothing to do with the purpose of this thread which is to discuss the matter of whether or not Schubert was disliked or not admired in his day. Or is that something else you didn't bother reading?

Your facile comment doesn't advance knowledge on this subject one iota, and if all questions of this nature were answered in your trite fashion it would not be a very interesting place.

Werner
CMG's Elder Statesman
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Location: Irvington, NY

Post by Werner » Wed Feb 07, 2007 2:32 pm

To try to put an end to this discussion, I submit it matters not a bit whether (we think) Schubert was liked or not in his time. We're in no position to question his contemporaries.

More important - in fact, the only important part of this - is the fact that, for all his modesty, dear Franz remains one of the giants in his field - don't confuse the issue with numbers such as Nol 4 or 10, which have no relevance whatever. We have the evidence, established by the great interpreters through the generations, of the still living music. That's enough for me.
Werner Isler

pizza
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Post by pizza » Wed Feb 07, 2007 3:28 pm

Oxford University Press, its publisher, describes Elizabeth Norman McKay's recent biography of Schubert as follows:

"Franz Schubert (1797-1828) was born in Vienna of immigrant parents. During his short life he produced an astonishing amount of music. Symphonies, chamber music, opera, church music, and songs (more than 600 of them) poured forth in profusion. His 'Trout' Quintet, his 'Unfinished' Symphony, the three last piano sonatas, and above all his song cycles Die Schone Mullerin and Winterreise have come to be universally regarded as belonging to the very greatest works of music. Who was the man who composed this amazing succession of masterpieces, so many of which were either entirely ignored or regarded as failures during his lifetime?

In her new biography, Elizabeth Norman McKay paints a vivid portrait of Schubert and his world. She explores his family background, his education and musical upbringing, his friendships, and his brushes and flirtations with the repressive authorities of Church and State. She discusses his experience of the arts, literature and theatre, and his relations with the professional and amateur musical world of his day. Schubert's manic-depressive temperament became of increasing significance in his life, and McKay shows how it was partly responsible for his social inadequacies, professional ineptitude, and idiosyncracies in his music. She examines Schubert's uneven physical decline after he contracted syphilis, traces its affect on his music, his hedonism, and sensuality, and investigates the cause and circumstances of his death at the age of thirty-one.

Reviews:

"McKay...far exceeds her modest objective to `enhance the reader's pleasure in and understanding of, Schubert's music.'...Highly recommended for both academic and public libraries."--Library Journal

"McKay draws on the limited sources of information about the composer to construct a biography that balances the recording of his accomplishments with analysis of his manic-depressiveness and his social life - and all in time to honor the bicentennial of his birth."--Booklist

"The story of Schubert's short life is extraordinarily compelling, and Elizabeth McKay tells it skillfully."--Commentary

"McKay manages a near day-to-day account of the composer's life that is rich in psychological insight both of its nature and perception by those around him...Readers interested in Schubert will find this volume worthy to add to their collections."--Clavier

"McKay's research clarifies many a Schubert myth."--Piano Journal"

http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/s ... 0198166818


It seems there is something to talk about regarding the impact of Schubert's psychological problems, character and social life on his music.

Sapphire
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Post by Sapphire » Wed Feb 07, 2007 5:04 pm

Pizza

Thank you for the above.

This new book is, of course, in a long line of books and articles about Schubert, several of which I have read. I am not suggesting the one to which you refer may not be a good read, but from the summary it is very familiar material. I do not pretend to know all the fine detail but there is not much of significance about Schubert’s life and main works with which I am unfamiliar. He is the composer I have spent most time studying.

He wrote a vast amount of music in his late teens whilst pursuing a very unhappy first career as a schoolteacher. Nor did he like private musical teaching which he tried later. All he wanted was a quiet life among friends and the ability to compose, which he continued to do in great profusion. His friends looked after him in providing accommodation, friendship, moral support, and organising his limited finances. One early marriage application failed on grounds of his poverty. Another later romance (Princess Caroline Esterházy) ended in severe disappointment. The syphilis he contracted in 1822 played increasing havoc with his life. He was in and out hospital at various times. Increasingly after about 1825 he felt depressed and debilitated. Some aspects of his social life were not always approved of by some of his friends, and no doubt he had a few up and downs with some of them. The failure of his operas (due mainly to poor libretti) worried him a great deal. The mercury treatment he probably received later in his syphilis had no effect, and probably caused poisoning. He probably knew there was no cure and that one day it would kill him, even though he maintained hope of recovery right up to the end of his life. He was certainly very incapacitated during his last 6 months, and yet it was this period when he completed several best-known works.

As I have said, he was generally liked among his circle, and his compositional achievements were admired up to a point. Certainly the famous Viennese baritone, Michael Vogl, who pioneeered all of Schubert's lieder, was a big friend and admirer. Had he wanted to, Schubert could have climbed the social ladder a lot more, but it was not his inclination. To the end, he deliberately shunned publicity, as he could not cope with such pressures.

All these aspects of his personal life clearly affected his musical achievements. Anyone who takes the time to listen to Schubert can hear these sad influences coming through. That is why I think it is so good. It is absolute music with a lot of passion, all blended in the most gorgeous concoctions of melody and brilliant orchestration. As an example, in my view the Adagio of the C Major String Quintet, D 956 is one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written, and sees off, or at least matches, the best of the competition from any of my other most admired composers.


Saphire

BorisG

Post by BorisG » Wed Feb 07, 2007 6:55 pm

Early on, Schubert experienced what most people do. Distinct turning points that draw a life's path. He tried straight and narrow or father's footsteps. When that failed, as did a few more attempts at conventional livelihood, he dedicated himself to the arts. Though the world was better for these early failings, he may have not been.

Societal hindrances and coming to terms with his homosexuality presented lifelong challenges and insecurities. They did not have to. His art was sufficient. Though he was his own worst enemy, I do not believe he was manic depressive.

Werner
CMG's Elder Statesman
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Location: Irvington, NY

Post by Werner » Wed Feb 07, 2007 7:37 pm

Pizza, Saphire, Boris: Your three posts preceding concern biographical material important with reference to any great personality - there is much about Schubert, and I've read my share.

All of this is important - what I felt excessive was the superficial concern about whether or not he was popular, or how important his work is. That speaks for itself.
Werner Isler

Sapphire
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Post by Sapphire » Wed Feb 07, 2007 7:43 pm

BorisG wrote:Early on, Schubert experienced what most people do. Distinct turning points that draw a life's path. He tried straight and narrow or father's footsteps. When that failed, as did a few more attempts at conventional livelihood, he dedicated himself to the arts. Though the world was better for these early failings, he may have not been.

Societal hindrances and coming to terms with his homosexuality presented lifelong challenges and insecurities. They did not have to. His art was sufficient. Though he was his own worst enemy, I do not believe he was manic depressive.

He was not a manic depressive in the fashion of Schumann. I don't think this alleged homosexuality can be taken for granted. He evidently liked female company and had several relationships, in one case going as far as a firm proposal of marriage which was rejected by the authorities on account of his poverty at the time. Certainly he kept male company but in those days strong male relationships were not uncommon. His friend Michael Vogl, with whom he toured Austria on singing ventures, was not homosexual. Different theories exist about this, and I do not believe there is any consensus opinion. He was certainly not a striking individual in terms of looks and this may have added to his reserve, perhaps forcing him more into the company of men rather than women. Also, because of his poverty, he was reliant on assistance from friends, including accommodation, in order to survive.

Sapphire
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Post by Sapphire » Wed Feb 07, 2007 7:58 pm

Werner wrote:Pizza, Saphire, Boris: Your three posts preceding concern biographical material important with reference to any great personality - there is much about Schubert, and I've read my share.

All of this is important - what I felt excessive was the superficial concern about whether or not he was popular, or how important his work is. That speaks for itself.

Werner: Thanks. These discussions do wander off in all directions but of underlying relevance is the character of Schubert as this must have affected the type of material he wrote. I find Schubet's music quite unlike all others in that it is full of emotion, and I am fascinated to find out as much as I can about his personality and social pressures. So when topics such as this come up I am bound to have views. I try generally not to clutter up these various threads with drivel, and only speak when I think I have something useful to say. That's of course when I'm not having an occasional laugh with those who share a similar sense of humour.


Saphire

Rhys
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Schubert disliked?

Post by Rhys » Wed Feb 07, 2007 8:02 pm

It is surprising to hear that Schubert was not liked by his contemporaries. There are accounts of how he so much enjoyed visits to the local wein stuben to enjoy a glass and pipe with his friends, with whom he met as often as he could. It is also said that while enjoying their company he would scribble musical notations on whatever paper was available. By all acounts, Schubert was very much a part of these
friendly sessions with friends who were well aware of his talents.

Opus132
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Post by Opus132 » Wed Feb 07, 2007 8:05 pm

BorisG wrote: Societal hindrances and coming to terms with his homosexuality presented lifelong challenges and insecurities. They did not have to. His art was sufficient. Though he was his own worst enemy, I do not believe he was manic depressive.
Schubert was homosexual?

Gurn Blanston
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Location: Texas USA

Post by Gurn Blanston » Wed Feb 07, 2007 8:17 pm

burnitdown wrote:
Gurn Blanston wrote:It isn't so much that it was disliked, rather it was considered outré by the more conservative majority.
Isn't that always the case?

As an aside, you ever BBS in H-town during the 1980s?
No, I was in Dallas at that time. It was probably a cousin, Gurn is a common name in my family. :)

As of now, though, I am a mere 175 miles north of you, in Nacogdoches. Lovely place, fresh pine scent, flowing rivers, and while it isn't the rectum of the continent, as you may have heard, you can at least see it from here. :lol:

8)
Regards,
Gurn

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
That's my opinion, I may be wrong
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.
- HL Mencken

BorisG

Post by BorisG » Wed Feb 07, 2007 8:51 pm

Saphire wrote:
Werner wrote:Pizza, Saphire, Boris: Your three posts preceding concern biographical material important with reference to any great personality - there is much about Schubert, and I've read my share.

All of this is important - what I felt excessive was the superficial concern about whether or not he was popular, or how important his work is. That speaks for itself.

Werner: Thanks. These discussions do wander off in all directions but of underlying relevance is the character of Schubert as this must have affected the type of material he wrote. I find Schubet's music quite unlike all others in that it is full of emotion, and I am fascinated to find out as much as I can about his personality and social pressures. So when topics such as this come up I am bound to have views. I try generally not to clutter up these various threads with drivel, and only speak when I think I have something useful to say. That's of course when I'm not having an occasional laugh with those who share a similar sense of humour.


Saphire
It was not my assertion that societal hindrances and homosexuality affected the type of material he wrote, with one exception. His work turned decidedly from light to dark when he realized he was terminally ill. 1823.

As with many great artists, severe challenges spur creativity. Schubert's work faltered not, whether light or dark.

Similar humor? Similar thought? You might try to be more open to all ideas.

I leave you a link to Charles Rosen's thought on this matter.

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2116

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