Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/339

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.


interval, took up a little volume which lay on the table. It interested him ; and as his friend did not return he carried it off with him. Anxious for his book, Randhartinger called next morning at Schubert's lodgings, and found that he had already set several pieces in it to music. The volume was Wilhelm M tiller's poems ; the songs were part of the 'Schone Miillerin.' A year or two after this, in July 1826 it is his old friend Doppler who tells the story returning from a Sunday stroll with some friends through the vil- lage of Wahring, he saw a friend sitting at a table in the beer-garden of one of the taverns. The friend, when they joined him, had a volume of Shakespeare on the table. Schubert seized it, and began to read; but before he had turned over many pages pointed to 'Hark, hark, the lark,' and exclaimed, ' Such a lovely melody has come into my head, if I had but some music paper.' Some one drew a few staves on the back of a bill of fare, and there, amid the hubbub of the beer-garden, that beautiful song, so per- fectly fitting the words, so skilful and so happy in its accompaniment, came into perfect existence. Two others from the same poet not improbably followed in the evening. 1

It has been said that Schubert never heard his Symphonies played. This is no doubt true of the beautiful unfinished one in B minor, of the Gastein Symphony, and of the great one in C, no. 10 ; but of the first six it is not so correct. There was always the pupils' band at the Convict, where, as we have seen, parts in his handwriting are said to have lingered ; and there was also a flourishing amateur society, which, though their execution may not have had the precision of first- rate artists, yet probably played well enough to enable a composer to judge if his effects were what he intended them to be. Vienna .amateurs were by no means contemptible. A society who met at the Mehlgrube even ventured on bringing out such works as Beethoven's Overture to Coriolan for the first time. Another, assembling at the Rbmische Kaiser, performed the Mount of Olives, Beethoven himself conducting.

It seems that the Quartet afternoons at the house of Schubert the elder had gradually ex- tended themselves into performances of Haydn's Symphonies, arranged as quartets and played with doubled parts, players of ability and name joined, and a few hearers were admitted. After a time, the modest room became incon- veniently crowded, and then the little society migrated to the house of a tradesman named Frischling (Dorotheengasse 1105), wind instru- ments were added, and the smaller works of Pleyel, Haydn, and Mozart were attacked. In the winter of 1815 another move became necessary, to the house of Otto Hatwig, one of the violins of the Burgtheater, at the Schot- tenthor, and in the spring of 1818, to his new residence in the Gundelhof, and later still at Pettenkofer's house in the Bauernmarkt. The

i The drinking-song from Antony and Cleopatra (marked ' Wfihrlng. July 26'), and the lovely 'Sylvia' ('July 1826';. The anecdote Is in Kreissle.



��band now contained some good professional players, and could venture even on Beethoven's two first symphonies, and the overtures of Cheru- bini, Spontini, Boieldieu, Weigl, etc. Schubert belonged to it all through, playing the viola, and it was probably with the view to their perform- ance by the society that he wrote the two sym- phonies of 1816 (nos. 4 and 5), two overtures in the winter of 1817, and his 6th symphony in the spring of 1818.

Schober and Mayrhofer were Schubert's first friends outside the immediate circle of his youth- ful associates. He was now to acquire a third, destined to be of more active service than either of the others. This was Vogl. He was 20 years Franz's senior, and at the time of their meeting was a famous singer at the Vienna Opera, ad- mired more for his intellectual gifts than for the technical perfection of his singing, and really great in such parts as Orestes in 'Iphigenie,' Almaviva in 'Figaro,' Creon in 'Medea,' and Telasko in the ' Vestalin.' About the year 1816 the date is not precisely given Vogl was induced by Schober to come to their lodgings, and see the young fellow of whom Schober was always raving, but who had no access to any of the circles which Vogl adorned and beautified by his presence. The room as usual was strewed with music. Schubert was confused and awkward; Vogl, the great actor and man of the world, gay, and at his ease. The first song he took up probably the first music of Schubert's he had ever seen was Schubart's ' Augenlied ' (Lf. 50, no. 3). He hummed it through, and thought it melodious, but slight which it is. 'Gany- med ' and the ' Schaf ersklage ' made a deeper impression ; others followed, and he left with the somewhat patronising but true remark, 'There is stuff in you ; but you squander your fine thoughts instead of making the most of them.' But the impression remained, he talked of Schubert with astonishment, soon returned, and the acquaintance grew and ripened till they became almost insepar- able, and until in their performances of Schubert's songs, 'the two seemed,' in Schubert's own words, ' for the moment to be one.' In those days songs were rarely if ever sung in concert-rooms ; but Vogl had the entrde to all the great musical houses of Vienna, and before long his perform- ances of the Erl King, the Wanderer, Ganymed, Der Kampf, etc., with the composer's accompani- ment, were well known. What Vogl's opinion of him ultimately became, may be learnt from a pas- sage in his diary: 'Nothing shows so plainly the want of a good school of singing as Schubert's songs. Otherwise, what an enormous and uni- versal effect must have been produced throughout the world, wherever the German language is understood, by these truly divine inspirations, these utterances of a musical clairvoyance \ How many would have comprehended, probably for the first time, the meaning of such expressions as 'speech and poetry in music,' ' words in harmony,' 'ideas clothed in music/ etc., and would have learnt that the finest poems of our greatest poets may be enhanced and even transcended when

�� �