It was Franz Peter Schubert, who said to a friend “I have come into the world for no other purpose but to compose”. For someone to be so certain, focused and dedicated at such a young age with extraordinary talent and promise, finding out more about Schubert’s life and astonishing music was a must for me. Franz Peter Schubert was bone in Vienna, on January 31, 1797 to his father, Franz Theodor Schubert and his mother, Elisabeth Vietz.
Because Schubert father was a schoolmaster, he began receiving lessons from his father at an early age, as early as age five. A year later Schubert was enrolled in his farther school and taking lessons not only from his farther but also piano lessons from his brother Ignaz. Schubert was very talented and gifted, there were times when his instructor would try to teach him new things which he already had knowledge of. It was at age eleven when Schubert became a choirboy in the court chapel and won a scholarship to the Imperial Seminary.
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It was at the Imperial Seminary that Schubert was introduced to the symphonies of Mozart and visits to the opera that strengthen his musical knowledge. At an early age Schubert played the viola and also wrote many of his early string quartets in the family string quartet, with his brothers Ferdinan and Ignaz on violin and his father on the cello. Schubert composed many masterpieces in his late teens while teaching at his father’s school. While teaching Schubert also continued private lessons in composition from Salieri which had a huge impact on Schubert’s musical training than any of his other teachers.
By the time Schubert was eighteen he composed 143 songs including The Erlking, which grabbed my attention. The Erlking is rich with emotions and has a physically powerful dialogue. When listening to The Erlking you can visualize the movement and passion so well that it gives you chills. Schubert’s Erlking is one of the earliest and finest examples of musical romanticism. In Schubert’s Erlking, there is the narrator, father, son, and the Erlking, which is all song by one person. Because the Erlking s done by one person, that one singer is to deliver each character in its fitting tone. The frighten child is song in a high register in minor, while the father is sung in a low register that distinguishes with the high pitched of the son cries, and the Erlking has modest melodies in major keys. The Goethe’s ballad tells a story of a father riding on a horseback through a storm with his ailing child in his arms, as the child is being followed by the Erlking which denotes death.
At the very beginning of the Erlking, the piano begins with rapid octaves. It is said that the triplet rhythm unifies the occurrence of the song and suggests that it represent the horse’s dash. The narrator then paints the perfect picture so that you are able to perceive this wild late ride as the farther holds his unwell son so tight and closely to him. As the Goethe ballad continues the son cries out to his father, my father in a forte tone to inform him of the Erlking and his presents.
The father, who uses a lower register tone, try to consol the boy and keep him calm by suggesting that the Erlking is a streak of mist and the whispering promises from the Erlking was only wind rustling in the dead leaves. After the son cried out for the last time to his father even louder than before, “My father, my father, now he is taking hold of me! The Erlking has hurt me! ” The piano stops and the father reach the courtyard weary and anxious with his child dead in his arms. It was on You Tube where I first had the pleasure of seeing and not only hearing the performance of The Erlking.
Jessye Mae Norman the soprano Opera singer performed The Erlking. Jessye Norman was born in Augusta, Georgia on September 15, 1945 to Silas Norman an insurance salesman, and Janie King Norman. Norman is one of the most admired contemporary opera singers and recitalists, and is one of the highest paid performers in classical music. Jessye Norman is also known for the direct and emotionally expressive qualities of her singing and for her formidable intellectual understanding of the music and its style.
During the performance of The Erlking, Jessye Norman gave great passion thought the recital with her body movement and facial expressions. The distinctions between the narrator, son and father were very obvious and the tones were delivered well. In a New York Times article, Norman explained to John Gruen, “As for my voice, it cannot be categorized and I like it that way, because I sing things that would be considered in the dramatic, mezzo or spinto range. I like so many different kinds of music that I’ve never allowed myself the limitations of one particular range. Although Norman decides not to label her voice, there are some vocal critics that feel that she is not a dramatic soprano, but deem her to be more of a rare soprano voice type known as a Falcon. The Falcon voice is an intermediate voice types between the soprano and the mezzo soprano that is similar to the dramatic soprano but with a darker color. Norman, nevertheless, refuses to position any label on her voice. Although Franz Schubert died at such a young age he was able to write over 600 songs, he composed symphonies, string quartets, operas, art song and piano pieces as well.
Schubert was recognized to be more than a great song composer only after forty years after his death when the Unfinished Symphony was performed. It was in 1828 when Franz Schubert die, he was only thirty one years old. The cause of his death was said to be typhoid fever, which is a worldwide illness, transmitted by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with the feces of an infected person that contains the bacterium salmonella enterica. Later it was said that Schubert’s cause of death was syphilis.
To recognize Schubert a memorial was built in Vienna’s Stadtpartk to honor and always remember his greatness. Schubert’s grave was move to Zentralfriedhof the largest and most famous cemetery in Vienna, where it is now near Beethoven whom he admired deeply.
- http://www. charlierose. com/view/interview/10121
- http://www. classicalarchives. com/composer/3308. html
- http://www. youtube. com/watch? v=Iz5TV8LWbro
- http://www. bach-cantatas. com/Bio/Norman-Jessye. htm