Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/352

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840

��SCHUBERT.

��composition, with Schuppanzigh, Weiss, and Linke, three of the famous Rassomofsky quartet, amongst the players. His association with the members of this celebrated party may well have led Schubert to write string-quartets; at any rate he himself tells us that he had written two before the 3ist March, 1 and these are doubtless those in Eb and E (op. 125), since the only other quartet bearing the date of 1824 that in A mi- nor has so strong a Hungarian flavour as to point to his visit to Zseldsz later in the year. How powerfully his thoughts were running at present on orchestral music is evident from the fact that he mentions both octet and quartets as 8 studies for ' the Grand Symphony,' which was then his goal, though he did not reach it till eighteen months later.

A bitter disappointment however was awaiting him in the rejection of 'Fierabras,' which, as already mentioned, was returned by Barbaja, ostensibly on account of the badness of its libretto. Two full-sized operas this and 'Al- fonso and Estrella' to be laid on the shelf without even a rehearsal ! Whatever the cause, the blow must have been equally severe to our simple, genuine, composer, who had no doubt been expecting, not without reason, day by day for the last four months, to hear of the acceptance of his work. His picture of himself under this temporary eclipse of hope is mournful in the extreme, though natural enough to the easily depressed temperament of a man of genius. After speaking of himself as 'the most unfortunate, most miserable being on earth,' he goes on to say, ' think of a man whose health can never be restored, and who from sheer despair makes matters worse instead of better. Think, I say, of a man whose brightest hopes have come to nothing, to whom love and friendship are but torture, and whose enthusiasm for the beautiful is fast vanishing ; and ask yourself if such a man is not truly unhappy.

My peace is gone, my heart is sore, Gone for ever and evermore.

This is my daily cry; for every night I go to sleep hoping never again to wake, and every morning only brings back the torment of the day before. Thus joylessly and friendlessly would pass my days, if Schwind did not often look in, and give me a glimpse of the old happy times. . . . Your brother's opera' this is a letter to Kupelwieser the painter, and the allusion is to Fierabras 'turns out to be impracticable, and my music is therefore wasted. Castelli's ' Ver- schworenen' has been set in Berlin by a com- poser there, and produced with success. Thus I have composed two operas for nothing.' This sad mood, real enough at the moment, was only natural after such repulses. It was as- sisted, as Schubert's depression always was, by the absence of many of his friends, and also, as he himself confesses, by his acquaintance with Leidesdorf the publisher (in Beethoven's banter

1 In his letter to Leopold Kupelwieser of March 31. K. H. 321 (li. 5).

2 'In this manner I shall prepare the way to the Grand Symphony (MT grossen Sinfonie).' Ibid.

��SCHUBERT.

' Dorf des Leides,' a very 'village of sorrow*), whom he describes as a thoroughly good, trust- worthy fellow, 'but so very melancholy that I begin to fear I may have learnt too much from him in that direction.' It must surely have been after an evening with this worthy that he made the touching entries in his journal which have been preserved; e.g. 'Grief sharpens the understand- ing and strengthens the soul : Joy on the other hand seldom troubles itself about the one, and makes the other effeminate or frivolous.' ' My musical works are the product of my genius and my misery, and what the public most relish is that which has given me the greatest distress.' Fortunately, in men of the genuine composer- temperament, the various moods of mind follow one another rapidly. As soon as they begin to compose the demon flies and heaven opens. That gloomy document called 'Beethoven's Will,' to which even Schubert's most wretched letters must yield the palm, was written at the very time that he was pouring out the gay and healthy strains of his 2nd Symphony. Schubert left town with the Esterhazys in a few weeks after these distressing utterances, and for a time forgot his troubles in the distractions of country life in Hungary. At Zseldsz he remained for six months, but his life there is almost entirely a blank to us. We can only estimate it by the compositions which are attributable to the period, and by the scanty information conveyed by his letters, which, though fuller of complaint than those of 1818, are even less communicative of facts and occurrences. To this visit is to be ascribed that noble composition known as the 'Grand Duo' (op. 140), though designated by him- self as ' Sonata for the PF. for four hands. Zsele"s, June 1824' ; a piece which, though recalling in one movement Beethoven's 2nd, and in another his 7th Symphony, is yet full of the individu- ality of its author ; a symphonic work in every sense of the word, which, through Joachim's in- strumentation, has now become an orchestral symphony, and a very fine one. To Zsel&z also is due the Sonata in Bb (op. 30, May or June), the Variations in Ab (op. 35, 'middle of 1824'), 2 Waltzes (in op. 33, '1824, July'), and4Landler ('July, 1824,' Nott. p. 215) all for PF. 4 hands; other Waltzes and Landler in the same collections for 2 hands ; and the ' Gebet ' of Lamotte Fouque" (op. 1390), signed 'Sept. 1824, at Zel&sz in Hungary' all evidently arising from the ne- cessity of providing music for the Count's family circle. The young Countesses were now nine- teen and seventeen, and doubtless good per- formers, as is implied in the duet-form of the pianoforte works. We are probably right in also attributing the lovely String Quartet in A minor (op. 29), and the 4-hand 'Divertissement a' la hongroise' (op. 54), to this visit, at any rate to its immediate influence. Both are steeped in the Hungarian spirit, and the Divertissement contains a succession of real national tunes, one of which he heard from the lips of a maidservant as he passed the kitchen with Baron Schonstein in returning from a walk. For the Baron wa&

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