Franz Schubert (January 31, 1797 – November 19,1828) was an Austrian composer of the late Classical and early Romantic eras. Despite his short lifetime, Schubert created a vast quantity of compositions, including more than 600 vocal works (mainly Lieder), seven complete symphonies, sacred music, operas, incidental music and a large body of piano and chamber music. His most famous works include the Piano Quintet in A major, D. 667 (Trout Quintet), the Symphony No. 8 in B minor, D. 759 (Unfinished Symphony), the three last piano sonatas (D. 958–960), the incidental music to the play Rosamunde (D. 797), and the song cycles Die schöne Müllerin (D. 795) and Winterreise (D. 911).
Born in the Himmelpfortgrund suburb of Vienna, Schubert’s musical gifts were evident from an early age. At the age of five, Schubert began to receive regular instruction from his father, and a year later was enrolled at his father’s school. Franz was given piano lessons by his brother Ignaz, but they lasted for a very short time as Franz surpassed him within a few months.
His father gave him his first violin lessons when he was eight years old, training him to the point where he could play easy duets proficiently. Soon after, Schubert became the student of Michael Holzer, organist and choirmaster of the local parish church, who did not give him any real instruction, as the boy already knew anything he tried to teach him. The boy seemed to gain more from an acquaintance with a carpenter’s apprentice who took him to a neighboring piano warehouse where Schubert could practice on better instruments. Franz also played viola in the family string quartet, with his brothers Ferdinand and Ignaz on first and second violin and his father on the cello. Schubert wrote his earliest string quartets for this ensemble.
Young Schubert first came to the attention of Antonio Salieri, then Vienna’s leading musical authority (and rival of Mozart), in 1804, when his vocal talent was recognized. In the meantime, Schubert’s genius began to show in his compositions; Salieri instructed him in music theory and composition.
In November 1808, he entered the Stadtkonvikt (Imperial Seminary) on a choir scholarship. There he was introduced to the overtures and symphonies of Mozart, the symphonies of Joseph Haydn, and the overtures and symphonies of Beethoven, a composer for whom he developed a special admiration.
At the end of 1813, Schubert left the Stadtkonvikt and returned home for teacher training at the St Anna Normal-hauptschule. In 1814, he entered his father’s school as teacher of the youngest pupils. For over two years young Schubert endured the teaching profession for which he cared little. He continued to take private lessons in composition from Salieri, who gave Schubert more actual technical training than any of his other teachers, before they parted ways in 1817. His teaching job and private musical lessons earned him enough money for only his basic needs. Schubert’s unhappiness contributed to his depression, from which he suffered throughout his life.
In 1821, Schubert was granted admission to the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde as a performing member, which helped establish his name among the Viennese citizenry. He gave a concert of his own works to critical acclaim in March 1828, the only time he did so in his career.
In the midst of this creative activity, his health deteriorated; Schubert confided to some friends that he feared that he was near death. Some of his symptoms matched those of mercury poisoning (mercury was then a common treatment for syphilis, suggesting that Schubert suffered from it). At the beginning of November, he again fell ill, experiencing headaches, fever, swollen joints, and vomiting. He was unable to retain solid food and his condition worsened. Schubert was only 31 years old when he died.
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. Felix Mendelssohn, Robert Schumann, Franz Liszt, Johannes Brahms, and other 19th-century composers and performers discovered and championed his works. Today, Schubert is ranked among the greatest composers of the 19th century, and his music continues to be included in popular repertoire.
He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so He did not open His mouth (Isaiah 53:7 Berean Study Bible).
I watched a video tutorial Angela Fehr posted for World Watercolor Month, which inspired me to try an abstract painting for Day 36:
The prompt for Day 37 was botanical. I attempted to try to paint an impression of these roses that I photographed at Mesa Community College’s rose garden:
On Day 38 I watched a tutorial for drawing a watermelon with watercolor pencils. My past attempts with watercolor pencils were very unsatisfactory. Even though I’d read articles on how to use them, it’s not the same as looking over someone’s shoulder and listening to the artist describe what she’s doing. Apparently, I’d not been pressing hard enough to leave enough pigment on the paper, and I’d only dribbled the water on instead of scrubbing the water with the brush. What a difference!
Every July I get frustrated with what an unpredictable surface index cards are for watercolor. The cards curl up and wrinkle where the water pools. I thought I could get around it by “preparing” the cards by taping them to a hardboard, spraying them with water, and letting them dry before painting. It didn’t work.
So I switched over to watercolor postcards. I’m justifying to myself that they count for ICAD because they’re 4 x 6 inches, the size of a large index card.
Since video tutorials have been working out well for me, I watched another one, which inspired the rest of the cards for the week.
My favorite painting for the week is the watermelon. I think it looks real. I’m excited that it’s a step forward for me, that now I know better how to use the watercolor pencils.
The tree tutorial didn’t help me as much as the others, because even though I could see what the artist was doing, hearing an explanation would have clarified it for me. I need words + the visual.
It’s not too late to jump in and participate–there are still two and a half weeks left, time enough to make 19 little artworks if you start today. It’s fun! No pressure.