Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/334

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322

��SCHUBERT.

��came into contact with him ; a band of young adorers, eager to play, or sing, or copy anything that he composed ; the earnest of the devoted friends who surrounded him in later years, and helped to force his music on an ignorant and preoccupied public. Nor did the enthusiasm cease with his departure ; for some years after- wards the orchestral pieces which he had written while at the school were still played by the boys from his own MS. copies. Outside the school he had sometimes opportunities of going to the opera. The first opera which he is said . to have heard was Weigl's * Waisenhaus,' played Dec. 12, 1810; but this was eclipsed by the 'Schweitzer-familie' of the same composer, July 8, 1811 ; that again by Spontini's 'Vestalin/ with Milder, Oct. 1,1812; and all of them by Gluck's ' Iphigenie auf Tauris,' which he probably heard first April 5, 1815, with Milder and Vogl in the two principal parts, and which made a deep and ineffaceable impression upon him, and drove him to the study of Gluck's scores. 1 During the same years there were also many concerts, including those at which Beethoven produced his 5th, 6th, and 7th Symphonies, the Choral Fantasia, por- tions of the Mass in C, the Overture to Coriolan, and others of his greatest compositions. Schubert probably heard all these works, but it is very doubtful whether he heard them with the same predilection as the operas just mentioned. We might infer with certainty from the three earliest of his symphonies, that Beethoven's style had as yet taken but little hold on him, notwithstanding the personal fascination which he seems to have felt for the great master from first to last. But, indeed, we have his own express declaration to that effect. Coming home after a performance of an oratorio of Salieri's, June 16, 1816, he speaks of the music in terms which can only refer to Bee- thoven, as ' of simple natural expression, free from all that bizawerie which prevails in most of the composers of our time, and for which we have al- most solely to thank one of our greatest German artists ; that bizarrerie which unites the tragic and the comic, the agreeable and the repulsive, the heroic and the petty, the Holiest and a harlequin ; infuriates those who hear it instead of dissolving them in love, and makes them laugh instead of raising them heavenwards.' Mozart was at the time his ideal composer; this too is plain from the symphonies, but here also he leaves us in no doubt. Three days earlier we find in the same 2 diary, a propos to one of the quintets of that great master : ' Gently, as if out of the distance, did the magic tones of Mozart's music strike my ears. With what inconceivable alternate force and tenderness did Schlesinger's masterly playing impress it deep, deep, into my heart ! Such lovely impressions remain on the soul, there to work for good, past all power of time or circumstances. In the darkness of this life they reveal a clear, bright, beautiful prospect, inspiring confidence

  • nd hope. O Mozart, immortal Mozart I what

1 From Bauernfeld, In W.Z.K.

2 Quoted by K.H. 103, 101 (i. 105. 108).

��SCHUBERT.

countless consolatory images of a bright better world hast thou stamped on our souls.' There is no doubt to which of these two great masters he was most attached at the time he wrote this. We have seen what a scourge the conscription proved in the case of Ries (iii. 1310), and the uneasiness of Mendelssohn's family till the risk of it was over in his case (ii. 2626). To avoid a similar danger 8 Schubert elected to enter his father's school, and after the necessary study for a few months at the Normal School of St. Anna, did so, and actually remained there for three years as teacher of the lowest class. The duties were odious, but he discharged them with strict regularity, and not with greater severity than might reasonably be expected from the irritable temperament of a musician condemned to such drudgery. The picture of Pegasus thus in vile harness, and the absence of any remark on the anomaly, throws a curious light on the beginnings of a great composer. Out of school hours, however, he had his re- laxations. There was a family in the Lichten- thal named Grob a mother, son, and daughter whose relations to him were somewhat like those of the Breunings to Beethoven (i. 164 a). The house was higher in the scale than his father's, and he was quite at home there. Therese, the daughter, had a fine high soprano voice, and Heinrich Grob played both PF. and cello ; the mother was a woman of taste, and a great deal of music was made. It is not im- possible that Therese inspired him with a softer feeling. 4 The choir of the Lichtenthal church, where his old friend Holzer was still choir- master, was his resort on Sundays and feast days, and for it he wrote his first mass, in F begun May 17, finished July 22, 1814 a fitting pendant to the symphony of the previous October. He was not yet eighteen, and the mass is pronounced by a trustworthy critic 5 to be the most remarkable first mass ever produced, excepting Beethoven's in C, and as striking an instance of the precocity of genius as Mendels- sohn's Overture to the Midsummer Night's Dream. It seems to have been first performed, on Oct. 1 6, the first Sunday after St. Theresa's day, 1814 Mayseder, then 25, and an acknow- ledged virtuoso, leading the first violins; and was repeated at the Augustine Church ten days after. This second performance was quite an event. Franz conducted, Holzer led the choir, Ferdinand took the organ, Therese Grob sang, the enthusiasm of the family and friends was great, and the proud father presented his happy son with a five-octave piano. 6 Salieri was pre- sent and loud in his praises, and claimed Schu- bert as his pupil. He had indeed begun to take some interest in the lad before 7 he left the Con- vict, and continued it by daily lessons ' for a "long time.' That interest was probably much the same

��He was three times summoned to enlist. See Ferd. p. 183.

4 See K.H. 141 (i. 144).

e Mr. Prout, In ' Monthly Musical Record,' Jan. and Feb. 18TL

6 Ferd. 133 6. i K.H. i. 27 note.

8 Bauernfeld. In W.Z.K. June 9, 1829.

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