Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/332

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320

��SCHUBERT.

��and then his joy would know no bounds, and he would cry 'the lad has got harmony at his fingers' ends.' l Such astonishment was natural enough, but it would have been far better if he had taught him counterpoint. Ignaz too and an elder brother is nob always a lenient judge of his junior bears similar testimony. I was much astonished,' says he, 'when after a few months he told me that he had no more need of any help from me, but would go on by himself ; and indeed I soon had to acknowledge that he had far surpassed me, beyond hope of competition.'

Before he became eleven he was first soprano in the Lichtenthal choir, noted for the beauty of his voice and the appropriateness of his expression. He played the violin solos when they occurred in the service, and at home com- posed little songs, and pieces for strings or for PF. For a child so gifted, of people in the position of the Schuberts, the next step was naturally the Imperial Convict, or school 2 for educating the choristers for the Court-chapel ; and to the Convict accordingly Franz was sent in Oct. 1808, when n years and 8 months old. He went up with a batch of other boys, who, while waiting, made themselves merry over his gray suit, calling him a miller, and otherwise crack- ing jokes. But the laugh soon ceased when the miller* came under the examiners, the Court- capellmeisters Salieri and Eybler, and Korner the singing-master. He sang the trial-pieces in such a style that he was at once received, and henceforth the gray frock was exchanged for the gold-laced uniform of the imperial choristers. The music in the Convict had been a good deal dropt in consequence of the war, but after the signing of the treaty of peace, Oct. 14, 1809, it regained its old footing, and then Franz soon took his right place in the music -school. There was an orchestra formed from the boys, which practised daily symphonies and overtures of Haydn, Mozart, Krommer, Kozeluch, MeTiul, Cherubini, etc., and occasionally Beethoven. Here his home practice put him on a level with older boys than himself. The leader of the band, behind whom he sat, several years his senior, turned round the first day to see who it was that was playing so cleverly, and found it to be 'a small boy in spectacles named Franz Schubert.' 3 The big fellow's name was Spaun, and he soon became intimate with his little neighbour. Franz was extremely sensitive, and one day admitted to his friend, very confused and blushing deeply, that he had already composed much ; that indeed he could not help it, and should do it every day if he could afford to get music-paper. Spaun saw the state of matters, and took care that music- paper should be forthcoming ; for which and other kindnesses his name will be long remembered. Franz in time became first violin, and when

1 K.H. 5 (1. 5).

2 In the Piaristengasse In the Josephstadt. See a very full and Interesting account of this school in Hanslick's excellent book, 'Geschichte des Concertwesens in Wien' (Vienna, 1869), p. 141.

3 From a sketch by von KOchel, entitled 'Nachruf an' Joseph von Spaun,' Vienna (privately printed), 1866. I owe the sight of this to my excellent trieud Mr. 1'ohl.

��SCHUBERT.

Ruzicka, the regular conductor, was absent, he took his place. The orchestral music must have been a great delight to him, but we only hear that he preferred Kozeluch to Krommer, and that his particular favourites were some adagios of Haydn's, Mozart's G- minor Symphony, in which he said 'you could hear the angels singing,' and the overtures to Figaro and the Zauberfiote. It is also evident from his earliest symphonies that the overture to Prometheus had made its mark on his mind. On Sundays and holidays he went home, and then the great delight of the family was to play quartets, his own or those of other writers, in which the father took the cello, Ferdinand and Ignaz the first and second violins, and Franz the viola, as Mozart did before him, and Mendelssohn after him. The father would now and then make a mistake ; on the first occasion Franz took no notice, but if it recurred he would say with a smile, in a timid way, ' Herr Vater, something must be wrong there.'

From a very early date Beethoven was an ob- ject of his deepest reverence. Shortly before he entered the School the boys' orchestra had been taken to Schonbrunn for a performance in Bee- thoven's presence, and Franz was never tired of hearing the details of the story from those who were there. A few months later, after some of his boyish songs to Klopstock's words had been sung, he asked a friend if it was possible that he himself ever would do anything ; and on the friend replying that he could already do a great deal, answered, ' Perhaps : I sometimes have dreams of that sort ; but who can do anything after Beethoven?'* With this feeling it is doubly strange that his juvenile works should show so few traces of Beethoven's direct influence.

The instruction in the Convict was by no means only musical. There was a Curator, a Director (Rev. Innocenz Lang), a Sub-director, an In- spector, a staff of preachers and catechists ; and there were teachers of mathematics, history and geography, poetry, writing, drawing, French, and Italian. 5 In fact it was a school, apart from its music department. Franz of course took his part in all this instruction, and for the first year is said to have acquitted himself with credit, but his reputation in the school fell off as it increased in the musical department. The ex- traordinary thirst for composition, which is so remarkable throughout his life, began to assert itself at this time, and appears to have been limited only by his power of obtaining paper ; and it not unnaturally interfered with his general lessons. His first pianoforte piece of any dimen- sions, and apparently his earliest existing compo- sition, was a 4-hand phantasia, containing more than a dozen movements, all of different charac- ters, and occupying 32 pages of very small writing. It is dated 8 April I May 1810, and was fol- lowed by two smaller ones. 6 His brother re- marks that not one of the three ends in the key

��* See K.H. 258 (I. 260).

5 See the list of names in K.H. 13 (i. 13).

6 Ferd. p. 133. lieissmaun (p. 7) gives the inscriptions ' Den 8 Aprill angefangen. Den 1. May vollbracht. 1810.'

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