The three songs of Opus 81 were composed early in 1827 and rushed into print by May of the same year with a dedication to the poet from the publisher, Tobias Haslinger. This is some indication of the esteem in which Johann Friedrich Rochlitz was held. He was not only a well-known novelist, poet and playwright but a distinguished critic and founder and editor of the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung of Leipzig in which Schubert's music received more favourable reviews than elsewhere. Schubert met the poet in 1822, but we find a complete lack of interest from the composer in currying favour with so powerful an individual, and it is probable that the publisher Haslinger had to push Schubert into writing the Rochlitz set of Op 81. Rochlitz had championed the young Beethoven, and though his credentials as a talent scout are not in question, he was a bit of a musical know-all and busybody. He wrote to Schubert in 1827, asking him to set a poem and providing almost blow-by-blow instructions about how to do so. The composer declined this invitation and the coolness of his reply shows how little he cared for the useful (and traditionally Viennese) arts of flattery and political opportunism.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1990
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