Happy birthday to Franz Schubert, born 1/31/1797

Happy birthday to Franz Schubert, who composed his 5th Symphony at age 19, soon after moving to Vienna to pursue a career as a freelance musician. In that year, 1816, he wrote “the magic tones of Mozart’s music sound in my ears” - an influence his Fifth Symphony strongly reveals.


One of my favorite composers. I was just listening to his D784 sonata and moments musicaux this morning with Brendel on vinyl.

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It’s astonishing to realize that if Beethoven had died at the age Schubert did, we’d regard him as an enormously promising composer but not one of the giants. It’s hard to estimate what we lost when Schubert died. His death is at least as tragic as Mozart’s premature end.

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And Mendelssohn, Bizet, Chopin, von Weber, Purcell, Gershwin.

But we need to remember in the 18th and 19th centuries the life expectancy in Europe was approximately 40 years.

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True enough, and those were all great losses. But I think Schubert and Mozart — don’t @ me, as they say on Twitter — were in a class separate from the others you mention. Really unique geniuses, on a level with Bach and Beethoven. (I realize Benjamin Britten, if he were still alive, would be @ing me unmercifully for not including Purcell in that small grouping.) Anyway, they were all terrible tragedies, and we’re all the poorer for their early deaths.

I agree with you, except for Chopin.

Yes, fair enough. Chopin was sui generis, and a revolutionary genius. Not always to my taste, but that’s neither here nor there.

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