The Schubert Reader: A Life of Franz Schubert in Letters and Documents

The Schubert Reader: A Life of Franz Schubert in Letters and Documents

The Schubert Reader: A Life of Franz Schubert in Letters and Documents

The Schubert Reader: A Life of Franz Schubert in Letters and Documents

Excerpt

This is a book of facts -- the impress of a life left on its contemporary world. Unlike other biographies it does not select events and testimonies that become known to an author, who then makes it his business to fill up gaps and to link the whole together in a literary or scientific way. It is rather a fairly complete collection of all the known biographical raw material, on which the labour of a lifetime has been spent, together with such explanations as may be required. These explanations themselves are dealt with objectively, so far as that is humanly possible: there are no personal elaborations, and prejudices have been kept in check. The book, in short, is intended to be not a biography of Schubert, of a kind that will doubtless continue to be written by others, but the plain record of his life -- an unheroic monument such as befits one of the heroes of human culture.

Whether the system that produced this book was due to the material itself -- the modest account of one who died young -- or to the peculiarities of its author, who lacks the gift of analysis and, probably for that reason, dislikes the aesthetic approach to matters of art, he himself can no longer tell. The former circumstance caused one of Schubert's friends, the poet Eduard von Bauernfeld, to say with a sigh in 1857 that this life showed "so few tangible biographical marks" that it could perhaps be described only by means of "a kind of poetical outline" -- as indeed it frequently has been in our time. As late as 1897 Max Friedlaender, one of the most meritorious of Schubert scholars, declared that "material for a biography was, and still is, wanting." As for the second circumstance, it has done away with this deficiency: ever since 1914 it has been difficult, not so much to write a Schubert biography, as to refrain from writing one. If this book has been not unprofitably drawn upon for the last thirty years by Schubertian scholars and writers in its fragmentary German edition, this definitive version should prove even more useful, for all that it is a . . .

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