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

By Otto Erich Deutsch; Eric Blom | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTORY NOTES

AUSTRIA AND VIENNA IN SCHUBERT'S TIME

At the second Annual Dinner of the Anglo-Austrian Society, held in London on 24th April 1925, Sir Henry Hadow, the author of 'The Viennese Period,' vol. v of 'The Oxford History of Music,' said: that to all who loved music Vienna was in very truth a sacred city. If they considered the three greatest artistic periods in the world's history, he would place first Periclean Athens; second, Elizabethan England; and, without any doubt whatever, he would place third Vienna in the latter half of the eighteenth and the first quarter of the nineteenth century.

'The Times,' 25th April 1925.

WHEN Francis of Habsburg-Lorraine was crowned emperor in 1792 he immediately became involved in war with revolutionary France. In the spring of 1796 Austria was attacked on the Rhine by two armies, which were resisted by the Archduke Karl, the emperor's brother, and in Italy by one victoriously led by Bonaparte. At New Year 1797 Austria strove to relieve Mantua, only to be first defeated at Arcola and then, on 14th January, at Rivoli. This was seventeen days before Schubert's birth ( 31st January 1797).

In the autumn of 1796 already Vienna had called up a volunteer corps. When its second division left to join the Italian army on 17th November, the day of the battle of Arcole, Beethoven wrote the 'Song of Farewell to the Citizens of Vienna,' which he dedicated to the commander of the corps, Major Karl von Köwesdy.

At the end of 1796 the Government, following England's example, had commissioned from Haydn the 'People's Hymn,' which on 12th February 1797 was sung in all the Austrian theatres.

After the fall of Mantua on 21st February, at which the Viennese volunteers were forced to surrender, Inner Austria itself was menaced. Bonaparte traversed the eastern Alps, occupied Graz, the capital of Styria, and threatened to push on towards Vienna across the Semmering.

On 4th April the storm troops were called up all over Austria, and on the 14th Beethoven brought out his 'Austrians' War-Song.' Three days later, on Easter Monday, the corps called up in Vienna assembled in the parade-ground on the glacis. After a field mass they marched with military music down the roads to Währing and Nussdorf, so well known to-day, passing Schubert's birthplace and making for the outer ring of fortifications. This was the first public musical performance heard by the composer -- aged seventy-six days.

This music, however, which doubtless included the new people's hymn, did not actually lead to battle. The seven brigades did not reach

-xxi-

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations viii
  • Preface xi
  • Translator's Foreword xvii
  • Introductory Notes xxi
  • Prenatal Records 1
  • Appendices 926
  • List of Schubert's Works Mentioned in the Book 967
  • General Index of Names, Places, Titles, and Selected Subjects 979
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