Ludwig, Graf von Széchényi von Sarvari-Felsö-Videk was a prominent and important amateur poet and musician of Hungarian birth. He was high steward to the Archduchess Sophie and an important member of the Philharmonic Society. His brother Stephan was a prominent Hungarian statesman. Schubert set only two of his poems, neither of which was published. This suggests that the composer had access to a manuscript of the words, which would have been possible at any time though an intermediary. Perhaps the composer had met Széchényi through another Hungarian count, Karl Esterházy, as early as 1817. It is true that the publication of the Op 7 songs (including Der Tod und as Mädchen
) with a dedication to Széchényi at the end of 1821 probably cleared the way for Schubert's election to full membership of the Philharmonic Society in March 1822. It remains open to question whether the composer wrote songs expressly for this purpose, or whether he unearthed songs he had already written some years before.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1994