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Franz Schubert

Franz Schubert

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.


Franz Schubert by Wilhelm August Rieder

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.

Creative Juice #143

Creative Juice #143

Gorgeous ideas to jump-start your imagination.

Hiking in Usery Park

Hiking in Usery Park

A week and a half ago, my daughter Katie invited me to hiking with her in Usery Mountain Regional Park, part of the Maricopa County Park system. I’d never been there before, but I knew it was a favorite spot of a friend of mine, so I was happy to accept.

I’ve enjoyed my hikes in South Mountain Park, which I think is gorgeous, but Usery Park is much more beautiful, greener.


As we entered the park, we asked the attendant at the guard house where to find an easy trail for beginners (for me; I’ve only been hiking once since my emergency gall bladder surgery in April, and I wanted level ground). She recommended the Merkle Trail, which circles around a small mountain. We started on that, and immediately came to the Vista Trail, which went up the mountain, followed the ridge, and went down the other side. We decided to try it. The photo above was taken at the top. You can see the Merkle trail on the lower level.

The trail was rough and rocky in spots, but not too steep. There was one short stretch that was strenuous enough to get my heart pounding, but it was doable for an old lady like me. I brought my Sony Cyber-shot instead of my “good” camera, but it did a reasonable job of capturing the beautiful terrain.

Lots of cactus (click on the smaller photos to enlarge):


And we met a little friend. Katie thinks it’s a chuckwalla. I tried to walk around him and take a better picture, but he took off.


Here and there were some big outcroppings of rock.


Painted on the mountains in the distance is an arrow pointing the way to Phoenix. You can see it from the air on the way to Sky Harbor International Airport.

When we came down the mountain, we followed the Merkle Trail back to where we started.


I can’t wait to go back again.

Guest Post: 15 Things I Learned After Reading 100 Query Letters by Katie McCoach


reading on computer; reading queries

A big thank you to A Writer’s Path and to Katie McCoach for this excellent article about what makes a good query letter.

A few weeks ago was the submission review period for the annual RevPit contest. During this review period, each editor has one week to review submissions from authors in order to make their final pick to work on one manuscript for the next five weeks. The contest allowed one submission per author/manuscript, and each editor received up to 100 submissions. Guess how many I received? The full 100. So, it was a busy week to say the least. Each submission included one query letter from the author, answers to a few questions to get to know the author better, and the first five pages (up to 1500 words) of the author’s manuscript.

If you’re into math, that’s about an average of 50k words I read in query letters, and 150,000 words in first pages. This doesn’t count the synopses I read, additional pages of books I requested in my top picks, or the re-reading of submissions I did throughout the week.

There’s a lot a person can learn by reading 100 query letters and 100 opening pages.

In this article, I’m going to share with you 15 things I learned after reading 100 query letters, and next month I’ll focus on what I learned after reading 150,000 words in opening pages. Here are your do’s, don’t’s, mistakes, successes, patterns, what makes a query POP, and what makes a reader cringe.

To read more of this article, click here.

Happy 4th Birthday to ARHtistic License!

Happy 4th Birthday to ARHtistic License!

Yesterday was the fourth anniversary of the first blog post on ARHtistic License. I like to reflect on the blog’s progress around its birthday and at the end of the year.

One year ago, ARHtistic License had 465 followers. As of this writing, it’s grown to 683, an increase of 27.5%, a modest gain (I was hoping for more like 50%; I can dream, can’t I?).

There are two ways to determine what content is most popular: views and likes.

My ten most popular articles of 2019 so far, based on the number of views:

  1. NaPoWriMo2019 #13 (252)
  2. *Jan van Eyck’s The Crucifixion and the Last Judgment: Painted by a Committee (235)
  3. *How to Make a Meme on a Mac (154)
  4. *Escaping the Khmer Rouge: Review of Beautiful Hero by Jennifer H. Lau (144)
  5. *How to Practice the Piano: Doh! Dohnányi (136)
  6. Phoenix Folk Dance Festival (102)
  7. #DC383: Ratoon (92)
  8. *10 Best Zentangle Sites on the Web (86)
  9. #DC385: Valentangle (72)
  10. *Review of The Accidental Tourist, or Why I’d Rather Read the Book Than See the Movie (70)

The titles marked with an * are articles from prior years that still get lots of views currently.


I know why some of these articles got lots of views:

  • The NaPoWriMo one is a poem I wrote that was featured on the official National Poetry Writing Month website, so lots of NaPoWriMo participants read it. It’s not necessarily the best poem I wrote that month, but I read all the featured poems (a new one every day in April), too.
  • People like help with technical stuff; I think that’s why my how-to on memes gets read so often.
  • Beautiful Hero won 1st Place in Writer’s Digest‘s Self-Published E-Book Award in 2018. I think people searched for reviews of it.
  • I think all pianists find Dohnányi’s exercises challenging. Misery loves company.
  • I posted a link to the article about the Phoenix Folk Dance Festival on the Phoenix International Folk Dancers Facebook page.
  • The titles that start with #DC were my entries in a Zentangle challenge (the Diva Challenge, which seems to have stopped, to my sadness). It was a very popular challenge, and all the participants checked out all the entries. Tangle enthusiasts love finding new sources, so I think that’s why so many people read the 10 best Zentangle sites article.
  • I love that so many people read the Jan van Eyck article. I have no idea why that one gets read almost every day, while others of my articles about the old masters don’t get nearly as much interest.

My top ten articles in the past year, based on number of likes:

  1. Wordless Wednesday/ Flower of the Day: Assorted Vincas (24)
  2. NaPoWriMo2019 #13 (23)
  3. Wordless Wednesday: Painted Rocks by the Neighborhood Ice Cream Parlor (23)
  4. Wordless Wednesday/ Flower of the Day/ #ALP: Red Bird of Paradise (23)
  5. Creative Juice #111 (22)
  6. Flower of the Day: African Daisies (21)
  7. My Favorite Art Blogs (21)
  8. OctPoWriMo Day 8: Married Forty-Five Years (21)
  9. Wordless Wednesday/ Flower of the Day: Red Bird of Paradise (20)
  10. Wordless Wednesday/ Flower of the Day: Hibiscus (20)

I think I know why these posts got the most likes:

  • Wordless Wednesday and Flower of the Day are two popular photography challenges. Photographers, like zentanglers, support each other by checking out their entries.
  • NaPoWriMo (April) and OctPoWriMo (October) are poetry challenges. Like photographers and zentanglers, poets like to see what their colleagues are doing.
  • Creative Juice is a feature that appears every Friday on ARHtistic License. It’s a list of a dozen articles I found on the web that I found inspiring or creative. It has a loyal following.
  • People who surf the internet like to find websites that match their interests. I think that’s why readers liked the art blog roundup.
woman typing writing programming

Photo by Startup Stock Photos on

Nevertheless, I am disappointed that I can’t get 100 likes on my posts. I think it has to do with the fact that in order to “like” or comment on a WordPress blog, you must have a Gravatar; in order to get a Gravatar, you must sign up for a WordPress account and give up personal information like your email address. It sounds like a big deal, but it’s not. It’s free.

It breaks my heart that my #1 most viewed post so far this year only got 24 likes. Does that mean that more than 90% of my readers HATED my poem? I already confessed that it’s not one of my best, but if even 40% liked it, that would be 100 likes right there.

I am so jealous of bloggers who regularly get hundreds of likes on their posts.

Every year I whine and consider quitting.

Then I try to do some things differently and plug on.

Please, if you enjoy reading a blog post and there’s a “like” button, click it. It will make the blogger’s day. It will serve as vindication for the hours she spent on the post. It will put a smile in her heart.

Also, please share it on your social media. Thanks!

And subscribe so you don’t miss a single post.

Poet Laureate

Poet Laureate

Can you name the current poet laureate of the United States? If you can, you have my admiration. I had to look it up.

Do you know what the poet laureate does? The American poet laureate acts as the chair of poetry for the Library of Congress. The position was established in 1936 by an endowment from the author and philanthropist Archer M. Huntington, and the title of poet laureate was created in 1985. (Before that, the position was known as the consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress.) The poet laureate is appointed by the Librarian of Congress and serves from September to May. Some serve more than one term.


Main reading room, Library of Congress

The duty of the poet laureate is to promote poetry in the United States. He is expected to read from his work at the Library of Congress poetry series. She may travel the country making appearances to lecture about or otherwise promote poetry, or organize festivals or conduct special projects. She is also expected to reserve time to continue writing poetry.

The past poets who have been honored with this position are an impressive crowd. You’ll find names you recognize, even if you are not particularly a poetry enthusiast. At least one (Robert Pinsky) made a guest appearance on The Simpsons.

I copied these lists of Consultants in Poetry and Poets Laureate from Encyclopaedia Britannica online. Each name links to a biography of the poet.

The Consultants in Poetry:

  1. Joseph Auslander


    William Carlos Williams

  2. Allen Tate
  3. Robert Penn Warren
  4. Louise Bogan
  5. Karl Shapiro
  6. Robert Lowell, Jr.
  7. Léonie Adams
  8. Elizabeth Bishop
  9. Conrad Aiken
  10. William Carlos Williams
  11. Randall Jarrell
  12. Robert Frost
  13. Richard Eberhart
  14. Louis Untermeyer
  15. Howard Nemerov
  16. Reed Whittemore
  17. Stephen Spender
  18. James Dickey
  19. William Jay Smith
  20. William Stafford
  21. Josephine Jacobsen
  22. Daniel Hoffman


    Robert Frost

  23. Stanley Kunitz
  24. Robert Hayden
  25. William Meredith
  26. Maxine Kumin
  27. Anthony Hecht
  28. Robert Fitzgerald
  29. Reed Whittemore
  30. Gwendolyn Brooks

The Poets Laureate:

  1. Robert Penn Warren
  2. Richard Wilbur
  3. Howard Nemerov
  4. Mark Strand
  5. Joseph Brodsky
  6. Mona Van Duyn
  7. Rita Dove
  8. Robert Hass
  9. Robert Pinsky


    Robert Pinsky; photo by Jared C. Benedict

  10. Stanley Kunitz
  11. Billy Collins
  12. Louise Glück
  13. Ted Kooser
  14. Donald Hall
  15. Charles Simic
  16. Kay Ryan
  17. W.S. Merwin
  18. Philip Levine
  19. Natasha Trethewey
  20. Charles Wright
  21. Juan Felipe Herrera
  22. Tracy K. Smith

Guest Post: 6 Ways To Use Marie Kondo Organizing Strategies In Your Writing Space by Writer’s Relief


This article has been reprinted with the permission of Writer’s Relief, a highly recommended author’s submission service. We assist writers with preparing their submissions and researching the best markets. We have a service for every budget, as well as a free e-publication for writers, Submit Write Now! Visit our site today to learn more.

frazzled worker
Everyone’s talking about the Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, inspired by her best-selling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. And the KonMari method can work for more than just your closets and your kitchen cabinets; with a little bit of cleverness, you can put Marie Kondo’s basic organization ideas to work in your writing space or home office.

And who knows—a little bit of organizing might affect your writing process in positive new ways and help you become a better writer!

Writer’s Relief checks out six basic principles of Marie Kondo’s organizing methods—and how to make them work for writers:

  1. Commit to the process. Rethinking the way you organize your writing space is going to take some time and energy; sticking to your decisions could take even more. But when you make the decision to commit to the process from day one, you may find you’re more likely to be successful.
  1. Imagine your ideal writing space. When you close your eyes, what do you picture your very best writing space looks like? Take notes, write down specific details, and think things through—before you make any actual changes. If you start working before you have a dream vision, you might be more inclined to give up when things don’t work perfectly. HINT: Create a Pinterest board to keep track of your ideas.
  1. Tidy by category. When you begin sorting and organizing your writing supplies, consider grouping the items you use by their function. Don’t keep anything you don’t need: Discard or donate the items that you haven’t used in a long time. Holding on to things just in case you might need them simply takes up storage space. So those ribbons for a manual typewriter you don’t even have anymore—toss ’em.
  1. Don’t get distracted. By focusing on categories of items, you’ll be better able to stay focused during the tidying process. Pick a category and stick to it. When you find an old family photo album tucked in a bottom desk drawer, put it aside and remind yourself that you’re focusing on writing tools right now—there will be time to muse on the album later.
  1. Follow Marie’s order for organizing. Marie recommends that you organize a space by the following order: clothes, books, papers, miscellany, and sentimental items. You may not have any clothes stored inside your desk (and if you do, it’s definitely time to rethink your writing space), but you probably do have books, papers, miscellany, and even sentimental items. Click here to learn more specifics about Marie’s method for sorting and organizing books—a very important skill for a writer!
  1. Pay attention to what sparks joy. To make Marie’s method work for the items you use in your writing space, ask yourself if what you’re holding sparks joy. It could be for any reason. Maybe the desk calendar is super functional and has all the bells and whistles to boost your productivity. Or maybe that pencil holder in the shape of a duck with googly eyes just makes you smile. If it sparks joy—keep it. If it doesn’t, thank it for its service, and say goodbye. A writer’s life will always have some rejection in it, so don’t underestimate the importance of things that make you feel happy.

What About Writers Who Thrive On Chaotic, Disorganized Spaces?

An organizational guru like Marie Kondo might look askance at the crazily disorganized spaces that some famous writers swear by. But our feeling is, if “disorganization” works for your creative process, then by all means—make haphazard piles of books, stuff drawers to bursting, and let the randomness of it all inspire you. Read more about writers and thinkers who had messy offices—and loved it.


Question: Have you tried the KonMari method? Thumbs up or thumbs down?