Gustav Klimt. Schubert at the Piano. Oil on canvas. 150 x 200 cm. Destroyed by fire at Schloss Immerdorf in 1945. More.
Franz Peter Schubert (1797-1828) was a Viennese composer of the early 19th Century, considered to be one of the greatest Austrian composers of all time. During his short life -- Schubert died at the age of just 31 -- he managed to produce nine symphonies, several sonatas and over 600 individual songs. He is considered to be the last great master of Austrian Classical music, and one of the first great masters of musical Romanticism.
Schubert was born in 1797 in Himmelpfortgrund, a town near Vienna. His father, also named Franz, was a schoolmaster and amateur musician, and it was he who first taught the young Schubert music. In 1808, at the age of 11, Schubert joined the Imperial Chapel Choir as a choir boy. At the same time, the boy was enrolled at the musical school run by Antonio Salieri, where he quickly caught the attention of the famous composer.
When his voice began to change, Schubert left both the choir and Salieri's school and began to work as a teacher at his father's school for a miserable salary. He continued to receive private lessons in composition from Salieri. These would turn out to be some of Schubert's most productive years: he composed some 300 songs, several symphonies, operas, sonatas and a string quartet.
In 1816, Schubert's fortunes began to change for the better. Franz von Schober, a young man from a rich family, offered to sponsor Schubert's creativity. Schubert moved into Schober's house and devoted himself to composition. This would characterize most of the rest of the composer's life: Schubert remained for the most part penniless, all his needs provided for by the generosity of his friends.
In 1822, Schubert began showing the first symptoms of tertiary syphilis. This began a continuous deterioration of his health that ended with his death in 1828, of typhoid fever.
Schubert's music would only begin to be recognized for its genius some decades after his death. Nowadays, he is widely regarded as one of the greatest composers of all time.