The posthumous reputations of great composers seem to fall into three distinct phases. First comes what A. N. Whitehead has called, in another context, the age of romance. Based on the vivid but fallible recollections of the great man's contemporaries, this thrives on legend and anecdotes and tends to emphasize the magical properties of genius. In time it gives way to the patient documentation of events in a spirit of scientific enquiry, to what might be called the phase of definitive biography, represented in the nineteenth century, for instance, by the work of Thayer on Beethoven, Jahn on Mozart, and Pohl on Haydn. Finally, a period of critical evaluation and synthesis ensues, in which the stature of the artist is looked at afresh in the context of his age, and man and artist are brought into meaningful relationship.
Schubert biography conforms to this pattern closely, except in one curious respect. Whereas the definitive work on his illustrious predecessors was done in the 1860s and 570s, it was not till 1912 that Otto Erich Deutsch, the Austrian art historian and musicologist, drew up plans for his monumental work on Schubert.1 As originally conceived, this was to consist of four volumes: (I) A reprint of Grove's biographical article on the composer, newly edited and translated, together with a comprehensive bibliography; (II) The documents themselves in two parts, the first covering the life and the second the obituary notices, posthumous memoirs, and recollections of his friends and contemporaries; (III) An iconographical volume, the material for which Deutsch had already assembled, and which was published in 1913 under the title Sein Leben in Bildern ( 'His Life in Pictures'); and (IV) The Thematic Catalogue of his complete works.
The reasons for this late start on the documentation of Schubert's life have never been fully explained. Doubtless it owed something to the fact that only a small part of his total œuvre was published during his short lifetime, and even more to the shadow cast on his reputation during the____________________