Thursday, January 31, 2013
Composer Franz Schubert was born on January 31, 1797, in Vienna, Austria, the son of a schoolmaster. As a child he could play the piano, violin and organ, and was an excellent singer. While working as a schoolmaster he was a prolific songwriter, and he is largely credited with creating the German Lied (a romantic poem set to music), including two of the most famous for their lyrical beauty, "Der Tod und das Mädchen" ("Death and the Maiden") and "Gretchen am Spinnrade" (“Gretchen at the Spinning Wheel”). By 1822 he was penniless and ill with what is thought to have been syphilis. In his short life of less than 32 years, he wrote 600 Lieder, nine symphonies (including the "Unfinished Symphony"), liturgical music, operas, incidental music and a large body of chamber and solo piano music. Schubert revered Beethoven but was too timid to introduce himself when they passed each other on the streets of Vienna.