FRANZ PETER SCHUBERT was undoubtedly the most spontaneous of composers. Melodies occurred to him with the most amazing rapidity, and his short life was one continual outpouring of copositions. He seldom revised his work, being in this respect the opposite of Beethoven. But he gave forth his "native wood-notes wild" in an inexhaustible stream. Even Mozart, his only rival in this respect, was certainly behind him in melodic and harmonic expressiveness.
Schubert was born on January 31, 1797, in the large family of a poor schoolmaster at Lichtenthal, a suburb of Vienna. His home life was restricted by poverty, but his father and his elder brothers Ignaz and Ferdinand were devoted to music, which Franz soon found to be a congenial atmosphere. He received his earliest instruction at home, with the addition of some lessons from Holzer, the local choir-leader. Schubert's natural genius had evidently begun to make itself manifest; for Holzer said, "He seems to have known instinctively whatever I tried to teach him."
Soon after he reached the age of eleven he was transferred to the choir-school (Konvikt-Schule) of the imperial chapel in Vienna, where he stayed until 1813. There he had some chances to develop himself, such as hearing occasional operas, or playing in the school orchestra, of which he became first violin and assistant conductor. The playing at home, too, grew to a larger scale, and the domestic performances sometimes included symphonies as well as quartets. He began to compose also. In that branch he was handicapped at first by an unusual situation -- the lack of money to buy music- paper. Fortunately the situation was discovered by an older and richer student, who generously bought the needed supplies. Schubert's poverty was shown in another way; for the students were none too well fed, receiving only two meals a day, and a letter exists in which Franz begged his brother for extra Kreutzers (pennies) to buy more food.