Romantic Composer Comradery

Romantic Composer Comrades were Common

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 symphoniessacred musicoperasincidental music and a large body of piano and chamber music.

Obviously, the painter was a great friend and admirer of Franz Schubert.

Oil painting of Franz Schubert by Wilhelm August Rieder (1875), made from his own 1825 watercolor portrait.

signature written in ink in a flowing script
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.

This team did so much for our culture
Gilbert and Sullivan saved another work of Schubert’s.

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.

Romantic Composer Comradery

Schubert Contrasts Beethoven as Freedom v. Structure

Schubert Contrasts Beethoven as Freedom v. Structure. Most agree that Beethoven was the link between the Romantic and the Classical periods of music. Schubert’s life overlaps Beethoven’s. Schubert life was much shorter. January 1797 – 19 November 1828), He was an Austrian composer. Schubert died at age 31. But he was extremely prolific during his lifetime. His output consists of:

Ludwig von Beethoven  was baptized 17 December 1770[1] – 26 March 1827. He outlived Schubert by some 26 years. Schubert was born when Beethoven was 27 years of age. However Franz Schubert picked up the Romantic ball of composition and pushed it further. Classical music most often had significant development sections in a sonata, or symphony.  Here the parts or pieces of a theme were developed to show off the composer’s ingenuity. Schubert’s themes resist “development. Most are complete in themselves. Alfred Einstein discusses also this topic in his Music in the Romantic Era.  To quote him about Schubert: ” His themes have felicity in themselves. They resist dissection: development.”

Schubert Contrasts Beethoven
Beethoven lit the torch of Romanticism. Schubert ran with it.

Beethoven Archives – DSO Works

To read more about my thoughts on Beethoven, click on this internal link above.

How Schubert Contrasts Beethoven with the “Development” of his Themes

With Beethoven, any “side-stepping” keeps the theme in mind. His “digressions” are parallel paths to the theme. Schubert, in contrast,  becomes involved in the mist of a beautiful melodic journey. Development is often not called for. To him it seems too intellectual.

Romanticism’s span was approximately from 1800 – 1850.   It elevated folk art and ancient custom to something noble. Spontaneity became a desirable characteristic (as in the musical impromptu). Some of Schubert’s great creativity is to be found in with his Impromptus.  In contrast to the Rationalism and Classicism of the Enlightenment, Romanticism revived medievalism[7] . Elements of art and narrative perceived as authentically medieval. This was an attempt to escape population growth, early urban sprawl, and industrialism.

Image result for Pictures of paintings from the Romantic era
A romantic painting of someone cutting loose.

We Need a Return to Romanticism

We need the return of beautiful song once more. “Composing” today is created by formula. Many songs of today use only three harmonies. The three harmonies always appear in the same order. Their melody is about as limited as their harmony to three tones.  Here is the point: When you feel constricted by difficult times, you need to “cut loose.” Singing or performing constricted music can make you feel even more hemmed-in. Our current composers need the style of the “beautiful melodic journey” of Schubert.