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Franz Paul Lachner

born: 2 April 1803
died: 20 January 1890
country: Germany

Lachner was the most successful composer of the Schubert circle, the only one of Schubert’s younger musical friends to become a musical celebrity outside Vienna. Moritz von Schwind, Lachner’s close friend as he had been Schubert’s, also made his career in Munich and became a celebrated visual artist. Although he is largely forgotten now (there are some signs of a revival) Lachner is the ‘missing’ link between Schubert and Schumann. He was born in Bavaria, and he was to return there as a favourite son; in the intervening years, one may call these his ‘Schubert period’, he lived in Vienna where he was a pupil of Sechter and the Abbé Stadler. He was a friend of the composer from about 1823, although we have no idea how he was introduced to the Schubert circle. In 1826 Lachner was appointed to a post at the Kärntnertor Theatre. He was with Schubert on many occasions in the last years of the composer’s life, but his memoirs of the time are not always reliable. He seems to have been more interested than many of his contemporaries in Schubert’s instrumental works. He claimed he often discussed his current compositions with Schubert, and that the two men showed their sketches to each other. This must have been something rare indeed: since his break with Mayrhofer, Schubert had no one among his friends, apart from Schober perhaps, with whom he might have had this kind of exchange. Lachner returned to Munich in 1836 and he played an increasingly dominant part in the musical life of that city. On the twenty-fifth anniversary of Lachner’s return to Munich, Moritz von Schwind dedicated to him the ‘Lachner roll’, twelve-and-a-half metres of remarkably witty drawings on a roll of paper thirty-four centimetres high. This depicted Lachner’s career from its beginnings, and included several drawings of Schubert surrounded by his friends. Schwind’s own close position to Schubert, and the integrity of his memories, verifies the strength of the connection between Lachner and his immortal mentor.

from notes by Graham Johnson 2006

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