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Christian Friedrich Daniel Schubart

born: 24 March 1739
died: 10 October 1791
country: Germany

C F D SCHUBART was that rare thing among poets, an accomplished performer and composer. He rates a substantial entry in The New Grove in his own right. Charles Burney praised his virtuosity as a player of the organ and harpsichord and nineteenth-century composers (including Beethoven and Schumann) were interested in his writings on musical aesthetics. He believed that folksong was the real music of the people but he was also one of the only writers of his period fully to estimate the greatness of both C P E and J S Bach. Unfortunately for Schubart his musical talents were supplemented by the ability to write not only fairly innocuous poetry but also acidic political commentary. Too clever and outspoken for his own good, his radical stance and his sharp tongue made him fall foul of Duke Carl Eugen of Württemberg who imprisoned him for ten years in the fortress of Hohenasperg (1777-1787). This was the hideous example of punishment hanging over Schiller, twenty years younger, whose destiny lay in the hands of the same petty despot. Although Schubart wrote a great deal during these years (an autobiography, a musical treatise and many musical settings of his own words, including Die Forelle in 1782) his body and spirit were broken by this confinement and the years after his release were not productive ones.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1994


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