Franz Grillparzer was one of Schubert's most famous and celebrated contemporaries. His plays still hold the stage, particularly in his native Austria. Like Schubert, he was born in Vienna, but unlike the composer he moved in a milieu of well-connected aristocratie privilege. Despite his work in the Court Library Service he was never a great favourite with the Establishment, and was capable of enraging the powers-that-were with his writings. His relationships with women were turbulent and manifold, but the most important of them was his lifelong friendship (never quite extended to marriage) with Kathi Fröhlich, sister of Anna and 'Pepi' who feature strongly in Schubert's story. Grillparzer was quite a close friend of Beethoven (the reason that Fischer-Dieskau puts forward for Schubert's wariness in his relationship with the poet) and provided him with Melusina as a libretto. Although primarily known as a man of the theatre, Grillparzer wrote a number of Novellen, as well as a good deal of poetry. He had a long and distinguished life; he was in contact with almost every important German man of letters, and he was widely travelled and much honoured. He wrote the somewhat controversial epigram on Schubert's tombstone 'The art of music here entombed a rich possession, but even fairer hopes'. Although well-meant, this facile phrase suggests a lack of inside knowledge of the composer's output, but it was, after all, a viewpoint shared even by those who knew Schubert better. Einstein suggests that despite the poet's fame, Schubert was not impressed with his work; 'Grillparzer was one of those not unusual German poets … in whose poetry the ideas scarcely ever achieve complete purity of form'. Mayrhofer, it seems, although struggling and unknown, was another matter. Who could possibly say that in literary matters, Schubert was not his own man?
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1990
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