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Franz Schubert and His World

Franz Schubert and His World

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 384
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  • Book Info
    Franz Schubert and His World
    Book Description:

    During his short lifetime, Franz Schubert (1797-1828) contributed to a wide variety of musical genres, from intimate songs and dances to ambitious chamber pieces, symphonies, and operas. The essays and translated documents inFranz Schubert and His Worldexamine his compositions and ties to the Viennese cultural context, revealing surprising and overlooked aspects of his music.

    Contributors explore Schubert's youthful participation in the Nonsense Society, his circle of friends, and changing views about the composer during his life and in the century after his death. New insights are offered about the connections between Schubert's music and the popular theater of the day, his strategies for circumventing censorship, the musical and narrative relationships linking his song settings of poems by Gotthard Ludwig Kosegarten, and musical tributes he composed to commemorate the death of Beethoven just twenty months before his own. The book also includes translations of excerpts from a literary journal produced by Schubert's classmates and of Franz Liszt's essay on the operaAlfonso und Estrella. In addition to the editors, the contributors are Leon Botstein, Lisa Feurzeig, John Gingerich, Kristina Muxfeldt, and Rita Steblin.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6535-2
    Subjects: History, Music

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-xvi)
    Christopher H. Gibbs and Morten Solvik
  4. Permissions and Credits
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  5. Schubert: The Nonsense Society Revisited
    (pp. 1-38)

    Twenty years have now passed since I discovered materials belonging to the Unsinnsgesellschaft (Nonsense Society).¹ This informal club, active in Vienna from April 1817 to December 1818, consisted mainly of young painters and poets with Schubert as one of its central members. In this essay I will review this discovery, my ensuing interpretations, and provide some new observations.

    In January 1994, at the start of a research project on Schubert iconography, I studied some illustrated documents at the Historisches Museum der Stadt Wien (now the Wienmuseum am Karlsplatz), titled “Unsinniaden.”² The documents comprise forty-four watercolor pictures and thirty-seven pages of...

  6. Excerpts from Beyträge zur Bildung für Jünglinge, 1817–1818
    (pp. 39-66)

    TheBeyträge zur Bildung für Jünglinge(Contributions to Education for Youths) appeared in two volumes in Vienna in 1817 and 1818. Although the publication does not mention Schubert and he took no part in the project, this collection of pedagogical essays, translations, literary excerpts, and poetry nonetheless reveals important aspects of the literary, intellectual, and relational world that the young composer encountered through a number of his friends. He met most of them during his service as a choirboy in the Imperial Chapel Choir from 1808 to 1813, which brought with it enrollment in the Vienna Stadtkonvikt. This boarding school...

  7. “Those of us who found our life in art”: The Second-Generation Romanticism of the Schubert-Schober Circle, 1820–1825
    (pp. 67-114)

    Mention of the “Schubert circle” and its members’ quintessential activity, the “Schubertiade,” conjures up an irresistibly appealing image: the intimacy of chamber music, a presiding genius, convivial high spirits, the companionship of gifted friends, and the unlimited promise of youth. The romance of the Schubert circle is perhaps most memorably captured in two well-known depictions: a sepia drawing by Moritz von Schwind,A Schubert Evening at Josef von Spaun’s(see Figure 1), and a watercolor by Leopold Kupelwieser,Party Game of the Schubertians(see Figure 2). Together they seem to illustrate several complementary aspects of the circle: playful and serious,...

  8. Schubert’s Kosegarten Settings of 1815: A Forgotten Liederspiel
    (pp. 115-156)

    In 1815 Franz Schubert composed twenty vocal works to poems by Gotthard Ludwig Kosegarten. This in itself is not a remarkable observation about a time period in which the composer produced an enormous number of Lieder, at least 138 in that year alone. But there is something unique about these works that has, until recently, been overlooked by music historians: collectively they share both a clearly constructed plot and musical devices that connect them into a coherent whole, suggesting the rather surprising conclusion that the songs belong together as a unified set, even as a type of cycle. Although some...

  9. The Queen of Golconda, the Ashman, and the Shepherd on a Rock: Schubert and the Vienna Volkstheater
    (pp. 157-182)

    Popular theater of Schubert’s time, generally known as the Volkstheater tradition, was a vivid and expressive component of Viennese culture.¹ Performed in suburban theaters outside the city walls, Volkstheater plays attracted a broad audience ranging from prostitutes to royalty. The plays held a special position as one of the only outlets, despite censorship, for the social and political concerns of the public. The famous actors and the latest plays and songs—for there was much music in Volkstheater plays—were familiar throughout the city.

    In his 1924 introduction to the music for works by playwright Ferdinand Raimund (1790–1836), musicologist...

  10. Liszt on Schubert’s Alfonso und Estrella
    (pp. 183-200)

    During the winter and summer months and into the fall of 1854, Liszt published a series of articles on twelve dramatic works, all but two of them operas, connected with performances he conducted in Weimar. The pieces, in the order they were performed, were Gluck’sOrfeo ed Eurydice,Beethoven’sFidelio, Auber’sLa muette de Portici, Weber’sEuryanthe, Beethoven’s music forEgmont,Mendelssohn’s music forA Midsummer Night’s Dream, Bellini’sI Capuleti e i Montecchi, Meyerbeer’sRobert le diable, Wagner’sDer fliegende Holländer, Boieldieu’sLa dame blanche, Donizetti’sLa favorita, and Schubert’sAlfonso und Estrella. Liszt’s first six articles, as well...

  11. Schubert’s Freedom of Song, if Not Speech
    (pp. 201-240)

    In these pages I wish to probe the freedom imagery in a surprising number of Franz Schubert’s songs, some written in the heady atmosphere of the so-calledBefreiungskriege, the “wars of liberation” of 1813 to 1815, others composed only over the following decade, in the reactionary police state that Austria had become. Because the political dimension is more transparent in poetry from the earlier time I will first turn our attention to Schubert’s settings of several poems by Theodor Körner (1791–1813), the poet of German patriotism who took up arms in the wars against Napoleon and died a martyr...

  12. Schubert’s Tombeau de Beethoven: Decrypting the Piano Trio in E-Flat Major, Op. 100
    (pp. 241-298)

    For nearly two centuries now listeners have perceived, however dimly, a ghost haunting Schubert’s Piano Trio in E-flat Major, Op. 100. Most of the attention has focused on the second movement, the principal cello melody of which in turn haunts the trio’s finale through a threefold cyclic return. Indeed, the Andante con moto is often characterized as a funeral march—although it is not so marked. For Robert Schumann the publication of the trio in late 1828 “went across the ordinary musical life of the day like an angry thunderstorm” and he characterized the Andante as “a sigh intensified to...

  13. Schubert in History
    (pp. 299-348)

    When Franz Schubert died in 1828, the extent of his influence, fame, and popularity would have been hard to predict. His posthumous musical legacy in the nineteenth century and the controversies surrounding his biography in the twentieth would have astonished his contemporaries.¹ Our understanding of Schubert the man and his music represents a remarkable case of historical reassessment and scholarly revision.

    The impetus behind twentieth-century revisionist Schubert scholarship was the double-edged image of Schubert bequeathed to posterity at the end of the nineteenth century. The Schubert who persisted well into the modern era of recording and cinema was as much...

  14. Index
    (pp. 349-362)
  15. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 363-365)