Franz Peter Schubert was born in Austria on January 31, 1797. During his brief but prolific career, including more than a 100 songs and numerous symphonic, operatic, and chamber music scores before the age of 20, he produced masterpieces in nearly every genre, all characterized by rich harmonies, an expansive treatment of classical forms, and a seemingly endless gift for melody. As a child, Schubert’s talents included piano, violin, and organ. He was also an excellent singer and began his early training with his father and brothers. Eventually, he enrolled at the Stadtkonvikt School, which trained young vocalists to one day sing at the chapel of the Imperial Court.
Schubert’s voice, however, broke in 1812, forcing him to leave school. Though he continued instruction with Antonio Salieri, his family pressured him to become a schoolteacher. Schubert begrudgingly complied, working as a schoolmaster by day and composing prolifically by night. In fact, by 1814, the young composer had written a number of piano pieces and produced string quartets, a symphony, and a three-act opera. Over the next year, his output included two additional symphonies and two of his first German lieds—something Schubert is largely credited with creating.
Eventually, Schubert dedicated himself completely to his musical pursuits, taking on a somewhat Bohemian lifestyle, composing and spending time with a circle of friends who acted as his personal support system. In 1820, he was commissioned by two opera houses, the Karthnerthor Theatre and Theatre an der Wein, to compose a pair of operas, neither of which faired very well. As well, music publishers were unwilling to bet on a relatively unknown composer who wrote untraditional music. So Schubert, with the support of his artistic circle, published his own work for a collection of subscribers. These efforts, however, were not financially fruitful, and the composer struggled to sustain himself. His work garnered little attention, and contemporary composers dismissed his music as presumptuous and immature.
In 1826, Schubert applied for the job of deputy musical director at the Stadtkonvikt but failed to land the job. Still, his fortunes during this period began to improve. His impressive musical output continued, and his popularity in Vienna increased. His work during this period included the String Quartet in G Major and the Piano Sonata in G Major. In 1827, no doubt influenced by the passing of Ludwig van Beethoven, Schubert created a string of works, which included the first 12 songs of the “Winterreise,” as well as the Piano Sonata in C Minor and two piano solos, Impromptus and Moments Musicaux.
In 1828, the last year of his life, Schubert, though ill, remained committed to his craft. It was during this time he produced what is quite possibly his greatest piano duet, Fantasy in F Minor. In addition to this and other works, he also finished String Quintet in C Major, considered by musical historians to be the classical era’s final piece. Sadly enough, Schubert’s first and final public concert took place on March 26, 1828, proving successful enough to finally allow the composer to buy himself a piano. Exhausted, and with his health declining, Schubert moved in with his brother, Ferdinand. He died on November 19, 1828, in Vienna, Austria at the age of 31.
It was only after Schubert’s passing that his musical genius received the kind of recognition it deserved. His vocal contributions, more than 500 in all, were written for male and female as well as mixed voices, and his influence proved considerable with later composers like Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms. And, for some musical historians, Schubert’s much-praised Ninth Symphony opened the way for other greats like Anton Bruckner and Gustav Mahler. In 1872, a memorial to Schubert was constructed in the Stadtpark in Vienna, and, in 1888, his grave, along with Beethoven’s, was relocated to Zentralfriedhof, the Viennese cemetery—among the largest in the world. There, Schubert was laid alongside fellow musical giants Johann Strauss II and Johannes Brahms.
Source. With edits made.