Franz Peter Schubert (31 January 1797 – 19 November 1828) was an Austrian composer who died at 31 but was extremely prolific during his lifetime. His output consists of over six hundred secular vocal works (mainly Lieder), seven complete symphonies, sacred music, operas, incidental music and a large body of chamber and piano music. Appreciation of his music while he was alive was limited to a relatively small circle of admirers in Vienna, but interest in his work increased significantly in the decades following his death. Felix Mendelssohn, Robert Schumann, Franz Liszt, Johannes Brahms and other 19th-century composers discovered and championed his works. Today, Schubert is ranked among the greatest composers of the late Classical era and early Romantic era and is one of the most frequently performed composers of the early nineteenth century.
Aged 10, the young Schubert won a place in the Vienna Imperial Court chapel choir and quickly gained a reputation as a budding composer with a set of facile string quartets.
After leaving chapel school and having completed the year’s mandatory training, Schubert followed his father into the teaching profession. This was at once a calamitous move and a blessing, for it was Schubert’s deep loathing of the school environment that finally lit the touchpaper of his creative genius. The same year he began teaching – 1814 – he produced his first indisputable masterpiece, ‘Gretchen am Spinnrade’ (‘Gretchen at her spinning wheel’).