” Franz Schubert and His Merry Friends” Were they merry? What about his father? and the publishers?

The above was my first book story about a famous composer. I must have been sometime prior to 10 years (my wife read it when she was 9). It talked about the joyous life of Schubert and his many merry friends. Of course, I remember not one word of it, the reason being that Schuberts life was only about 31 years, but during this short time, he was able to write 600 hundred songs (lieder) which have remained even more popular than do contemporary best-selling poptunes.

But as I and we grew(grow) older we learn many other things about the life of this one of our most gifted and prolific composers.

And as clarinetists, whether aspiring to , or employed as, we also learn that he must have adored the clairinet and saved his most memorable orchestration for the clarinet. In the second movement of the 8th symphony, the main theme is first played in its entirety by the clarinet, then echoed by other winds. Of course, the very famous Octet of Schubert, for String Quartet, clarinet, french horn, bassoon and double bass has the most extended solo of the second movement reserved for the clarinet.And, kn the last movement, there is the almost unplayable additional part for both clarinet and violin, frequently left out from performnces, very fast.Although there is no Clarinet Sonata, there is Der Hirt Auf dem Felsen, for soprano Clarinet and Piano, another long clarinet part with the special difficult ending concluding this greatest of all Schubert Lieder. There is also a shorter work for the same group a Romance from an Opera called the” Forlorn Ones,” no longer performed, however the short “Romance” is a terrific introduction to the Shepherd of the Rock.

Schubert first came to the notice of Antonio Salieri,most famous at that time, and later much later for his work with Mozart(Salieri became much more well known as the character in the Play “Amadeus”, (later a movie, and an academy award for his character. That was F Murray Abraham))stories abound about the short life of Ftanz Schubert and his death. Some write that he died of Typhoid fever, other write that he frequented brothels, contracted syphillus and succumbed to that dread illness, but still other report that while he died from the disease, he probably never had the experience of contracting it because it was passed on to him by his mother: congenital syphillus.  One accepted fact is that there was a large concentration of mercury in his blood, mecury being the treatment for the disease at the time. (Nowadays, we have to be careful of tuna or sworfish). Mercury is the culprit in Amadeus as well. The phraise, Mad as a hatter, comes from the fact that mercury was used in the making of felt for hats. Mercury was found in a lock of Mozarts hair.

We know that Schuberts father had a great deal to do with his sons early education and that he , his father and brother played together in a string quartet. And later , we know that Schuberts was employed teaching the youngest of the students in his fathers school. But we also know that he was unable to find steady work in music. (Hey what century are we in?) and relied on those who were better off for such things manuscript paper.

Just think, over six hundrd song and song cycles, 8 Symphonies, piano sonatas, that long set of Variations for Flute and Piano, the list is endless and the quality very high .

One of the statement from my “Franz Schubert and his Merry Friends” was that he frequently wrote on the back of napkins in restaurants, which has to have been true.

He lived a shorter time than did Mozart and wrote almost as much, the lieder alone being worth a great legacy for any composer.

Here is a list of his works:


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