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Seufzer D198 Die Nachtigall [1'26]
The first document is a letter from Schubert which is now lost. We are told that in early 1815 the eighteen-year-old composer wrote to his friend Anton Hokapfel, who was three years his senior, confiding his affedion for Therese Grob,the daughter of a widow who ran a silk factory near the Liechtenthal church. Hokapfel described Therese as 'not by any means a beauty, but well shaped, fairly buxom, with a fresh, childlike little round face and a fine soprano voioe extending to D in alt'. Hokapfel's reply to Schubert's letter is also lost, but he remembered responding in a tone of avuncular wisdom which attempted to dissuade the young composer from any unwise and premature commitment. Some time after, Schubert described Therese to Anselm Hüttenbrenner as 'not particularly pretty, with pock marks on her face but very goodhearted'. She had sung the soprano solos in a perfommance of Schubert's first Mass (in F D105)in 1814, and the composer's attachment to her is said to have lasted until 1820 when she manried a baker.
So much for lost letters. What of the surviving documentary evidence from 1815? From 15 Febnuary comes a title page written in defedive French for the Ten Variations in F major (D156): the past participle 'composés' does not agree with its feminine plural noun 'Variations', and in the line 'Ecolier de Salieri, prémier Maître de la Chapelle imperiale' (sic), a vowel is denied its proper accent in one word at the end of the phrase as if to compensate for the spurious addition of one nearer the beginning. French grammar was never Schubert's strong point (his most famous mistake in this area was 'Momens Musicals' instead of 'Moments Musicaux') and it was not among his school subjeds nevertheless in the Vienna of the time it was customary to print title pages in rather high-flown French, and faute de mieux, a young composer denied a publisher will manufacture his own hand-written fantasies.
The next document is the entry in the family register of the birth, in April of the composer's half-sister Josefa Schubert's mother had died in 1812 and his father hal remaried. Thirteen years later this little girl was to show touching devotion as Schubert's nurse in his final illness.
There are brief hand-written additions to three dramabc works from this year. In June the manuscript of the Singspiel Fernando (libretto by Schubert's friend Albert Stadler) notes that the composer is Pupil of Henr v. Salieri', and in the following month exadly the same thing is marked on the manuscript of Claudine von Villa Bella (libretto by Goethe). By November Schubert is no longer in such a deferential mood for we see that Salieri has temporarily lost the 'von' which confenred on him a noble status (purely honorary) on the composer's manuscripts: the score of Die Freunde von Salamanka (libretto by the anti-establishment Mayrhofer) is marked 'Pupil of Herr Salieri'. Nevertheless (pace Peter Shaffer's depiction of a tortured monster) Salieri was beloved of his pupils and Schubert who had received twice-weekly lessons from Salieri in his schooldays, remained under his guidance throughout this crucial year of 1815, and only left him, at the earliest, in 1816.
In August 1815 Schubert's father made an unsuccessful attempt to change his employment. There was a vacant post for a teacher at the elementary school of the so-called Scottish monastery. Franz Theodor Schubert's petition for this job includes mention of his four sons, the youngest of whom, Karl, was studying drawing. A name-dropping reference to the 'kind guidance of Court Musical Director Herr von Salieri' is also made in connection with his promising musical son's progress. Finally, there is a brief appreciative reference to the Twelve Ecossaises (D299) from the mother of Schubert's close friend Josef von Spaun. Leaving aside the dates and evidence of work on the musical manuscripts themselves, this is the sum total of the actual Schubertian documentary evidence known to us for the year.
In terms of history and politics, 1815 was, of course, an epic year. Napoleon escaped from Elba and met his final defeat at Waterloo. In Schubert's home town the Congress of Vienna, which had convened in 1814, was still busy carving up Europe. Austria's representative was the wily and manipulative Metternich, England fielded Lord Casdereagh, and the rulers of Prussia and Russia, Frederick William lIl and the Czar Alexander I, arrived in Vienna in person. Talleyrand was the representative of Louis XVIII of France. The Congress agreed that the Hapsburgs should regain their domains of Lombardy Venetia, Tuscany, Parma and Tyrol. Prussia gained parts of Saxony and the Rhineland. All in all, the powers and rights of hereditary rulers were reinforced in the name of legitimacy; it was the triumph of the conservative old guard. The outcome was over thirty years of despotic rule and the merciless suppression of iiberal and nationalist sentiments, particularly in Austria and Italy. lt is ironic that as the young Schubert explored new and uncharted realms of music which glorified the freedom of the human spirit the hollow men of Europe, a few streets away were cynically engaged in an exercise designed to keep themselves in perpetual control at the cost of this spiritual freedom. In 1815 the German Confederation came into being and the persecution of students and other potentially dangerous liberals began in the German-speaking world. There were student riots in Vienna in 1815, and Schubert himself was to fall foul of the authorities five years later because of their mistrust of any student gathering, no matter how innocuous. The composer was to become much more politically aware as he got older, but in all probability in 1815 the import of politics on his own life was lost on him; a charivari of political chicanery orchestrated by the princes temporal was happening in close proximity to his self-appointed tasks, but these immortal musical devotions constituted a revolution of their own and inaugurated a new age, in song at least. In 1815 he was simply too busy to give politics much thought at all.
We do not even know what the young composer, still living at home, thought about the atmosphere in Vienna at the time. With important political visitors from all parts of Europe, the city was obviously en fete. There were endless parties and balls, and a great demand in consequence for dance music. Schubert of course was not invited to any of these gatherings, but he may have been aware (it was difficult not to see the flagrant evidence on the streets) that in order to serve the needs of the congress delegates there was a prostitution boom in Vienna which, according to contemporary accounts, was unmatched anywhere else in Europe. This fact would almost certainly not have been lost on Schubert's new friend Franz von Schober; 1815 sees his introduction into the composer's story. Born at Malmö in Sweden, Schober came to Vienna as a law student via the seminary at Kremsmünster where he had gone to school. He was a year older than Schubert and already a man of the world. Theirs was a very special relationship which puzzled some of Schubert's other friends and continues somewhat to puzzle us. Schober's was so obviously a lightweight and flawed personality that it is difficult to see what Schubert saw in him; perhaps it was the flaws themselves which the composer found attractive. Schober was a welcome and earthy counterbalance to the side of the composer which was unworldly and unambitious. In terms of good looks affluence and savoir faire Schober was everything which Schubert was not, and perhaps this was the key to their friendship. We shall hear much more about Schober in later years.
If we turn aside from Deutsch's Documentary Biography and reach for his other masterpiece, the Thematic Catalogue of Schubert's works there emerges a much clearer picture of 1815, a picture of astonishing and unremitting industry, although industry is an inadequate word to convey the fevered and exalted creativity that blazed within Schubert in these months. The boy had not yet begin to live in the accepted sense perhaps he was an idealistc teenager still sleeping under his strict father's roof. But how he lived through the music! At this age, some young men discover sex; Schubert discovered poetry. He did better than to take it to bed with him every night he gave himself to it almost each and every day. In his father's house he conducted a torid love affair with literature coupling his genius with that of the poets, which had all the hallmarks of a young man's passion: the insatiabie curiosity, the unselfconscious promiscuity, and the tender return to those areas which had given him the greatest pleasure.
This is the second disc in the Hyperion Edition devoted to the songs of 1815, the other is Elly Ameling's recital, Volume 7 in the series. The sober and ordered pages of Deutsch's catalogue gradually unfold the drama of the year's work. From D129 until D145 are ranged works which were mostly undated but which belonged to this year or thereabouts. There is a great amount of dance music for piano, Waltzes, Ländler and Ecossaises, and a number of vocal works including the Goethe setting Der Sänger (the text from Wilhelm Meister) which opens this disc. The composer's own serious dating of his works seems to begin in February with his first setting of his friend Schlechta (Auf einen Kirchhof) on the 2nd. On the 8th we have the imposing ballad Minona (Volume 7). On the 11th Schubert sketched the first movement of an E major piano sonata (D154) a week later he started to write a complete sonata (D157) in the same key and finished it soon aher but not before a set of piano variations in F (D156) was completed. On the 27th February he composed Goethe's Am Flusse, An Mignon (both on this disc) and the immortal Nähe des Geliebten (Volume 1). On the same day, he went on to set Kömer's Sängers Morgenlied, and two days later on the 1st March wrote another version in atotally different mood (both settings in Volume 4). Between February and March Schubert also completed his Symphony No 2 in B flat which had been started in December 1814.
Körner's epic ballad Amphiaraos was set on the 1st March and between the 2nd and 7th of that month he wrote the Mass in G major (D167). Thb delighfful work seems to have whetted Schubert's appetite for vocal part-writing and in the middle of March he was combining his enthusiasms for Kömer's verse and choral singing in Trinklied vor der Schlacht and Schwertlied. The String Quartet in G minor (D173) was written in the last week of March, and more Kömer songs thereafter, not forgetting three days in early April taken to write the G minor Stabat Mater (D175), and an Offertorium in A minor (D181) three days after that. Four days later, Schubert wrote a Graduale in C major (D184). In this same month there was also a flirtation with the poetry of Fellinger, and a rather experimental one-off setting (Vergebliche Liebe) of the poetry of a well-known Viennese literary figure of the time, Josef Bemard.
Early May marks the retum of his enthusiasm, first kindled in 1814, for Matthisson's poetry three settings of the poet—Die Sterbende, Stimme der Liebe and Naturgenuss (all in Volume 7) were written just before Schubert embarked on the first of three operettas written in 1815, Der vierjährige Posten. This work in eight numbers was compieted in eleven days (8th to 19th May). An ana from this opera in the composer's own piano-accompanied version can be heard in Volume 9. It is obvious that the last four days of this period was given over to orchestration, and Schubert was impatient to create new things as well. On the 15th he set Schiller's Des Mädchens Klage and Der Jüngling am Bache, on the 17th he wrote An den Mond (all three songs in Volume 7) and on the 19th, Amalia (Volume 1). The 22nd May was a magnificent day of Hölty settings, two of which are on this disc: An die Apfelbäume wo ich Julien erblickte and Seufzer. More Hölty and Körner settings were to follow a few days later, (including the fragment Auf den Tod einer Nachtigall and Der Liebende, both perfommed here). In the meantime, on the 24th, he started work on his Symphony No 3 in D which was to occupy him on and off until the middle of July.
The Goethe setting from Egmont (Die Liebe, Volume 7) dates from June 3rd, and side by side with this exquisite miniature he started work on his longest song of all, Adelwold und Emma. The better known Schiller ballad Der Taucher (sung on Volume 2 with an incorrect timing printed, it should read 24'50) which was written in 1814 and revised at the beginning of 1815, is most often cited as the benchmark of unbearable length by the detractors of the Schubert ballads. This disc offers a first recording of Adelwold und Emma an extraordinary piece, notorious among Schubertians for the space it takes up in the Gesamtausgabe but little known (by even them) for its felicities. It is adually three minues longer in performance than Der Taucher. Adelwold und Emma took him nine days to complete and Schubert seems to have had two days off (June 15 16) although one can never be sure of this: it is quite possible that he worked on revision orchestration or continued work on one of his more long term projects. Songs with Hölty texts (including Der Traum and Die Laube on this disc) and Goethe settings (some of the really great songs like Meeres Stille—two versions, Volumes 1 and 7) occupy the rest of June. At the same time he was workinq on a large Ossian ballad and epic poems by his friend Josef Kenner.
How on earth Schubert had the energy to compose the substantial Singspiel Femando in a mere six days (3rd to 9th July) is mystery enough, but it is not as if these six days were wholly given over to the dramatic work. The 5th July was a day of mixed media miracles. As well as the Salve Regina in F (D223) he composed the first Wandrers Nachtlied, Der Fischer, and Enster Verlust (all three songs in Volume 1). A good many days in July were given over to the poems of Kosegarten (for example the Ida songs in Volume 7) but we can detect a sign here that summer was perhaps luring the composer out of doors to be with his friends. Nevertheless, a large Singspiel, Claudine von Villa Bella, was started on July 26th, and it is sad that only the overture and one complete act of it has survived. Two arias from this work are to be heard in Volume 9.
August brought settings of poets who were, by now, old favountes—Hölty and Kosegarten. There was also a return to Schiller's ballads and Iyrics, and a setting of a risqué little English poem in bowdlerised translation, Der Weiberfreund. Schubert's work on Claudine von Villa Bella probably re-stimulated his admiration for its author, the poet whom he regarded as Castor to Schiller's Pollux, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. From this month comes the haunting tale of Die Spinnerin (Volume 7), as well as the immortal Heidenröslein, one of five Goethe settings composed on 19th August. A few days later the composer came across the Iyrics of Gabriele von Baumberg, as well as an almanac with various anonymous poems. The penchant for choral music also reasserts itself in this month.
September has more settings of Schiller and Ossian (one of the finest Cronnan) as well as a great deal more Klopstock including the magnificent Dem Unendlichen (Volume 5). A 'Gratulations-Kantate' for three-part chorus, wind and strings was written for his brother Ferdinand.
October has one of the beautiful early Mayrhofer settings (Liane, Volume 7) as well as a set of twelve piano Ecossaises. Three poems by Ludwig Stoll are set in a wave of enthusiasm (one of them, Lambertine, is to be found in Volume 9 and the others, Labetrank der Liebe and An die Geliebte, on this disc), and then it is back to Körner, Schiller and a number of obscure poets (again suggesting the influence of an anthology or almanac). There is also a resurgence of interest in Kosegarten. On 18th October Schubert begins his tussles with the Mignon poems from Goethe's Wilhelm Meister; it was a fascination that would last almost all his life. We hear the first two attempts at Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt in Volume 7. A few days later he set Mignon's Kennst du das Land (also Volume 7), leaving Schumann and Wolf to find further resonances in the poem at a much later date. It is thought that Erlkönig (Volume 8) also dates from this month.
November begins in grand fashion with the Schiller ballad Klage der Ceres, (Volume 5) followed two days later by the Mass in B flat major (D324). Towards the end of the year The Harper from Wilhelm Meister re-introduces himself (we had first heard him in Der Sanger) and yet another Singspiel is begun—a huge one this time, in eighteen numbers—Mayrhofer's Die Freunde von Salamanka. The score was finished on 31st December, marking the end of a year which had been, to say the least, extremely eventful. What it had lacked in personal events was more than made up for in terms of musical creation. About 150 songs date from the year. In the absence of much documentary evidence we need not wonder too hard what Schubert was up to from day to day in 1815. The most likely answer was that he was at home, working. Beethoven was still very much alive, and Schubert revered Mozart to such an extent that there was no question of trying on mantles for size. Instead he patiently cultivated his own garden with an array of flowers that the great composers before him had not bothered to plant. Thus, entirely in his own fashion, he laid the foundations of his immortality.
Graham Johnson © 1990