Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/357

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


they show conclusively how much Schubert's music was coming into demand. Pennauer and Leidesdorf were his personal friends, and may possibly have printed his pieces from chivalrous motives; but no one can suspect hard and ex- perienced men of business like Diabelli and Artaria of publishing the music of any one at their own risk unless they believed that there was a demand for it. The list is a remarkable one, and will compare for extent and variety with that of most years of Beethoven's life. And even at the incredibly low 1 prices which his publishers gave for the exclusive copyright of his works, there is enough in the above to pro- duce an income sufficient for Schubert's wants. But the fact is that he was mixed up with a set of young fellows who regarded him as a Croasus, 2 and who virtually lived upon his carelessness and good-nature, under the guise of keeping house in common. Bauernfeld, in an article in the Vienna 'Presse' of April 17, 1869, has given us the account with some naivete. A league or partnership was made between himself, Schwind the painter, and Schubert. They had nominally their own lodgings, but often slept all together in the room of one. The affection between them was extraordinary. Schubert used to call Schwind 'seine Geliebte* his innamoratal A kind of common property was established in clothes and money; hats, coats, boots, and cravats were worn in common, and the one who was in cash paid the score of the others. As Schwind and Bauernfeld were considerably younger than Schubert, that duty naturally fell on him. When he had sold a, piece of music he seemed to this happy trio to ' swim in money,' which was then spent ' right and left' in the most reckless manner, till it was all gone, and the period of reverse came. Under these circumstances life was a series of fluctua- tions, in which the party were never rich, and often very poor. On one occasion Bauernfeld and Schubert met in a coffee-house near the Kiirnthnerthor theatre, and each detected the other in ordering a mdange (cafo au lait) and biscuits, because neither had the money to pay for dinner. And this in Schubert's 29th year, when he had already written immortal works quite sufficient to make a good livelihood ! Out- side the circle of this trio were a number of other young people, artists and literary men, Schober, Jenger, Kupelwieser, etc., attracted by Schubert's genius, good-nature, and love of fun, and all more or less profiting by the generosity of one who never knew what it was to deny a friend. The evenings of this jolly company were usually passed in the Gasthaus, and then they would wander about, till daybreak drove them to their several quarters, or to the room of one

1 It is said by Schlndler that the prices agreed on with him were 10 Vienna gulden per Heft of songs, and 12 per pianoforte piece. (The Vienna gulden was then worth Just 1 franc. 'Heft' meant then a single song, not a 'Part' of two or three. This is conclusively proved by Ferdinand Schubert's letter of 1824.) These prices were not adhered to. Thus for the 7 ' Lady of the Lake ' songs he had MX) paper gulden - 2W., or nearly SI. per song. Even that is low enough. On the other hand, F. Lachner told Mr. Barry that in the last year of Schubert's life, he took half-a-dozen of the ' Winterreise' songi to Haslinger at Schubtnfs request, and brought back 1 gulden a piece t=10<<.) for them 1

3 The expression is Bauernfeld'*.



��of the party. It would be absurd to judge Vienna m.-mners from an English point of view. The Gasthaus took the place of a modern club, and the drink consumed probably did not much exceed that which some distinguished Vienna artists now imbibe night after night, and does not imply the excess that it would infallibly lead to in a Northern climate; but it must be obvious that few constitutions could stand such racket, and that the exertion of thus trying his strength by night and his brain by day, must have been more than any frame could stand. In fact his health did not stand the wear and tear. We have seen that in Feb. 1823 he could not leave the house ; that in the summer of the same year he was confined to the hospital; that in March 1824 he speaks of his health as irrecover- ably gone ; and the dedication of the six 4-hand Marches, op. 40, to his friend Bernhardt, doctor of medicine, as a token of gratitude,' is strong evidence that in 1826, the year of their publi- cation, he had had another severe attack.

It was probably a sense of the precarious nature of such a life that led some of his friends in the autumn of 1826 to urge Schubert to stand for the post of Vice-capellmeister in the Imperial Court, vacant by the promotion of Eybler to that of principal capellmeister ; but the application, like every other of the same kind made by him, was a failure, and the place was given to Joseph Weigl by the Imperial decree of Jan. 27, 1827.

Another opportunity of acquiring a fixed in- come was opened to him during the same autumn, by the removal of Karl August Krebs 8 from the conductorship of the Court theatre to Ham- burg. Vogl interested Duport, the adminis- trator of the theatre, in his friend, and the appointment was made to depend on Schubert's success in composing some scenes for the stage. Madame Schechner, for whom the principal part was intended, and whose voice at that time was on the wane, at the pianoforte rehearsals objected to some passages in her air, but could not induce the composer to alter them. The same thing happened at the first orchestral rehearsal, when it also became evident that the accompaniments were too noisy for the voice. Still Schubert was immovable. At the full -band rehearsal Schech- ner fairly broke down, and refused to sing any more. Duport then stept forward, and formally requested Schubert to alter the music before the next meeting. This he refused to do ; but taking the same course as Beethoven had done on a similar occasion, said loudly, 'I will alter nothing,' took up his score and left the Imusu. After this the question of the conductorship was at an end. Schubert's behaviour in this matter has been strongly censured, but we do not see much in it. Such questions will always depend on the temperament of the composer. Had it been either Mozart or Mendelssohn we cannot doubt that all would have gone smoothly ; the prima donna would not only not have been ruffled, but would have felt herself complimented, and the music would have been so altered as to

Father of Miss Mary Krebs the pianist.

�� �