The Great German Composers eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 175 pages of information about The Great German Composers.

Both these compositions were eccentric and at odds with the old canons of song, fancied with a grace, warmth, and variety of color hitherto characteristic only of the more pretentious forms of music, which had already been brought to a great degree of perfection.  They inaugurate the genesis of the new school of musical lyrics, the golden wedding of the union of poetry with music.

For a long time the young composer was unsuccessful in his attempts to break through the barren and irritating drudgery of a schoolmaster’s life.  At last a wealthy young dilettante, Franz von Schober, who had become an admirer of Schubert’s songs, persuaded his mother to offer him a fixed home in her house.  The latter gratefully accepted the overture of friendship, and thence became a daily guest at Schober’s house.  He made at this time a number of strong friendships with obscure poets, whose names only live through the music of the composer set to verses furnished by them; for Schubert, in his affluence of creative power, merely needed the slightest excuse for his genius to flow forth.  But, while he wrote nothing that was not beautiful, his masterpieces are based only on themes furnished by the lyrics of such poets as Goethe, Heine, and Rilckert.  It is related, in connection with his friendship with Mayrhofer, one of his rhyming associates of these days, that he would set the verses to music much faster than the other could compose them.

The songs of the obscure Schubert were gradually finding their way to favor among the exclusive circles of Viennese aristocracy.  A celebrated singer of the opera, Vogl, though then far advanced in years, was much sought after for the drawing-room concerts so popular in Vienna, on account of the beauty of his art.  Vogl was a warm admirer of Schubert’s genius, and devoted himself assiduously to the task of interpreting it—­a friendly office of no little value.  Had it not been for this, our composer would have sunk to his early grave probably without even the small share of reputation and monetary return actually vouchsafed to him.  The strange, dreamy unconsciousness of Schubert is very well illustrated in a story told by Vogl after his friend’s death.  One day Schubert left a new song at the singer’s apartments, which, being too high, was transposed.  Vogl, a fortnight afterward, sang it in the lower key to his friend, who remarked:  “Really, that Lied is not so bad; who composed it?”


Our great composer, from the peculiar constitution of his gifts, the passionate subjectiveness of his nature, might be supposed to have been peculiarly sensitive to the fascinations of love, for it is in this feeling that lyric inspiration has found its most fruitful root.  But not so.  Warmly susceptible to the charms of friendship, Schubert for the most part enacted the role of the woman-hater, which was not all affected; for the Hamletlike mood is only

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The Great German Composers from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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