For a composer who died at such a young age, Franz Schubert (1797-1828), wrote a staggering amount of music including nine symphonies (not all of them complete), 21 piano sonatas, nearly 20 operas (not all of them complete) and approximately 600 songs. All up, his output amounts to approximately 1,000 works. What is extraordinary about Schubert’s works list is not just the sheer quantity of music but also the quality and, furthermore, the quality across genres. For example, his songs are among the finest works ever written for voice and piano (and the song cycleWinterreise is one of the great achievements in any genre), his late piano sonatas are likewise outstanding as are theUnfinished and Great symphonies and the Quintet in C. Schubert was a gifted tunesmith and a remarkable innovator in the area of harmony. But for all Schubert’s originality and innovativeness, he received little recognition during his lifetime (indeed, he did not get to hear one of his symphonies performed by an orchestra). He enjoyed the company of a close circle of friends in Vienna who would hold all-Schubert concerts (known as Schubertiads) in intimate domestic settings, but success in large-scale concert venues and in the theatre eluded him. He probably contracted syphilis in his mid-20s which is very likely the disease that took his life (or, if not the disease, the treatment of it which, at that time, involved doses of mercury).

© Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra