Franz Schubert

Portrait of Franz Schubert

Franz Schubert was an Austrian composer of the late Classical and early Romantic eras. He was born on 31st January 1797 in Himmelpfortgrund, Vienna, Austria and died on 19th November 1828, Vienna, Austria aged 30.

Major Works

“Erlkönig” (1815) 
Symphony No 8 (“Unfinished”) (1822)
“Ave Maria!” (1825)
Symphony No. 9 (“The Great”) (1825)

Biography Timeline

Franz Schubert was born on 31st January 1797 in Himmelpfortgrund, Vienna, Austria. His father was a schoolmaster and his mother was the daughter of a locksmith. Schubert was one of thirteen children but only five survived past infancy. His father taught him the violin while his brother taught him the piano.

1804: Schubert’s singing voice was heard by one of the most famous composers of the day in Vienna, Antonio Salieri and he began to give him lessons in music theory and composition.  Their instructor/pupil relationship ended in 1817.

1808: He wins a scholarship for choir studies at the Stadtkonvikt school.

1813: He leaves the Stadtkonvikt

1814: He begins work at his father’s school as a teacher. Schubert met Therese Grob during the year and was so smitten that he wanted to marry her even though he did not have the funds to support her. Possibly due to his many male friends in later life some historians think that he was in fact homosexual. 

1816: He fails to get the post of Kapellmeister at Laibach and resigns from his teaching duties at his father’s school. He then moves into a home with his wealthy friend, Franz von Schober. This became a fertile period for his musical compositions even though he failed in his bid to join the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde. He composed the String Quartet in E Major and his Symphony No 5.

1817: Salieri stops teaching Schubert and towards the end of the year he has to return to teaching. 

1818: The first public performance of one of his works is given, a secular overture. Schubert becomes teacher to the daughter of a Count which pays well and allows him to work at his music more. 

1819: He composes the piano quintet in A Major (“The Trout”).

1820: He and some of his friends are arrested for agitation against the state. One friend was sentenced to a year in prison and banned from Vienna but Schubert himself was let off with a verbal warning. Schubert put on two on his operas which meant that he became known to a larger audience.

1822: He starts composing Symphony No. 8 in B minor which has gone down in history as the “Unfinished Symphony”. Experts are still divided as to why it was never finished. He also composes the “Fantasia in C Major, The Wanderer”. He meets the great Hungarian pianist and composer Franz Liszt who at that time was also being taught by Salieri. It is thought that sometime during the ensuing winter Schubert caught syphilis. 

1823: He composes the song cycle “Die schöne Müllerin“.” 

1824: He composes String Quartet No 13 in A minor. 

1826: He composes String Quartets No 14 in D minor (known as “Death and the Maiden”) and No 15 in G major.

 1827: He composes “Winterreise”.

1828: He completes his Symphony No 9 in C major “The Great” as well as two piano sonatas and a string quintet and “Schwanengesang”.

Schubert spent the last few weeks of his life at his brother’s house in Vienna suffering from a fever. He died on 19th November 1828. He was buried next to Ludwig van Beethoven only a year after he had attended Beethoven’s own funeral. (The two composers have since been moved and the original site is now called the Schubert Park.

Further Information

List of compositions by Schubert.