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In October 1817 Anton Ottenwalt wrote a letter from his home town of Linz to his future brother-in-law Josef von Spaun, which includes the lines 'Schubert … has given me great pleasure by having a go at one of my poems. I greatly look forward to hearing the song soon'. Spaun was Schubert's dearest friend, and in marrying into the Spaun family it was inevitable that Ottenwalt should get to know Schubert. He was, according to Deutsch 'sensitive, serious, somewhat awkward and good-hearted'. Outside Vienna, and in the composer's lifetime, Linz was the most important centre of burgeoning Schubert enthusiasm (Graz was to follow suit later). Ottenwalt was at the centre of this unofficial fan club. He was already a published poet, and Schubert seems to have set this text at Spaun's suggestion.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1990
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