Romantic Composer Comrades were Common. Musical composers are the avant-guard of civilization. Avant-guard defines a group of artists, musicians, or writers working with new and experimental ideas and methods. Without composer comrades, it is doubtful that we would ever know who Franz Schubert was. Composers are vital to a civilization. Yet, they are like babies. They need help. Such was the case with Franz Schubert. He only lived to age 31. Franz Peter Schubert was an Austrian composer of the late Classical and early Romantic eras. Despite his short lifetime, Schubert left behind more than 600 secular vocal works (mainly Lieder), seven complete symphonies, sacred music, operas, incidental music and a large body of piano and chamber music.
Oil painting of Franz Schubert by Wilhelm August Rieder (1875), made from his own 1825 watercolor portrait.
His last symphony, “The Great,” was never performed in his lifetime. He received payment for it from the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in 1828. However, they ended up performing an easier symphony by Schubert, , No 6. The “Great” remained in the truck of his brother, Ferdinand Schubert. His Romantic composer comrades included Robert Schumann. Scumann went searching for it. He discovered it in Ferdinand’s trunk in his attic.
Fortunately, Felix Mendelssohn, counted among Schubert’s Romantic composer comrades, was in a position to make the “Great” come to life. He was the director of the Gewandhaus Concerts in Leipzig, Germany. The story goes it was difficult to perform even for his orchestra. To make it more palatable, Mendelssohn omitted the repeats in the symphony that were indicated by Schubert. Here is another story of Schubert’s almost lost and forgotten music:
THE CLIFF HANGER QUEST OF GILBERT AND SULLIVAN to save Schubert’s Music
Gilbert and Sullivan had heard of Schubert’s Rosamunde. The manuscript was not to be found. On a whim, they traveled to Germany to find the music. There, they caught wind of a Doctor Snyder who may have been in possession of the score. The rest of the story reads like a cliff hanger. When they arrived at his home, Dr. Snyder told them he had had a number of Schubert’s manuscripts in his attic. Unfortunately, he had already placed them in the trash bin. The operetta duo ran to the refuse container. There, they not only discovered the score to Rosamunde, but numerous other symphonic works by Schubert. The rest of the story goes, they were so excited at the find, that they played leap frog with each other to celebrate the find.
Without the arts, life seems shorter and even brutish. We must support creators of the fine arts who supply the musicians in the concert hall with new music. After all, there might not be a team like Robert Schumann, Felix Mendelssohn or Gilbert and Sullivan at the right moment to save the great works of another poor Schubert-like composer.