Ignaz Castelli was born in Vienna. As a young man he played in theatre orchestras in order to see the plays, and remained an enthusiast for every branch of the stage thereafter. He combined careers as a civil servant, editor of journals and playwright. He wrote over two hundred plays, mainly in dialect, most of them translations from French originals. One of his most successful plays was a collaboration with Alois Jeitteles, poet of Beethoven's cycle An die ferne Geliebte. In publishing the Der Verschworenen libretto Castelli had thrown down the gauntlet to his musical countrymen: 'the German composers' complaint is usually this — "Indeed we should gladly set operas to music if only you would supply us with the books! Here is one, gentlemen!".' Unfortunately, Schubert was not the only composer to take up the challenge; after having composed his Singspiel he discovered to his great disappointment that Georg Schneider, a composer in Berlin, had pre-empted him with a successful setting. By this time, undermined by the crisis of his illness, Schubert was truly desperate to have a success in the theatre. It was also at this time that Die schöne Müllerin was composed.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1990
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