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Schubert: The Music and the Man

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Of all the great composers, none, not even Mozart, has been so dogged by myth and misunderstanding as Schubert. Since the 1920s, when the musical Blossom Time hit the stage, the notion of Schubert as a pudgy, love-lorn Bohemian schwammerl (mushroom) scribbling gemülich tunes on the back of menus in idle moments has never been quite eradicated. But in this major new biograp Of all the great composers, none, not even Mozart, has been so dogged by myth and misunderstanding as Schubert. Since the 1920s, when the musical Blossom Time hit the stage, the notion of Schubert as a pudgy, love-lorn Bohemian schwammerl (mushroom) scribbling gemülich tunes on the back of menus in idle moments has never been quite eradicated. But in this major new biography (the first comprehensive work on Schubert in over fifty years) Brian Newbould lays to rest the stereotype of the composer plucking melodies out of the air, relying on instinct more than well-honed craft. Instead he paints a vivid and compelling portrait of a man who was compulsively dedicated to his art, a composer so prolific that he produced roughly one thousand works in an eighteen year period. Gifted with an intuitive know-how, coupled with a Mozartian facility for composition, Schubert combined the relish and wonder of an amateur with the discipline and technical rigor of a professional. He moved quickly and comfortably among genres, and sometimes composed directly into score; but many pieces required painstaking revision before they satisfied his growing self-criticism. Examining afresh the enigmas surrounding Schubert's religious outlook, his loves, his sexuality, his illness and death, Newbould offers above all a celebration of a unique genius, an idiosyncratic composer of an astonishing body of powerful, enduring music.


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Of all the great composers, none, not even Mozart, has been so dogged by myth and misunderstanding as Schubert. Since the 1920s, when the musical Blossom Time hit the stage, the notion of Schubert as a pudgy, love-lorn Bohemian schwammerl (mushroom) scribbling gemülich tunes on the back of menus in idle moments has never been quite eradicated. But in this major new biograp Of all the great composers, none, not even Mozart, has been so dogged by myth and misunderstanding as Schubert. Since the 1920s, when the musical Blossom Time hit the stage, the notion of Schubert as a pudgy, love-lorn Bohemian schwammerl (mushroom) scribbling gemülich tunes on the back of menus in idle moments has never been quite eradicated. But in this major new biography (the first comprehensive work on Schubert in over fifty years) Brian Newbould lays to rest the stereotype of the composer plucking melodies out of the air, relying on instinct more than well-honed craft. Instead he paints a vivid and compelling portrait of a man who was compulsively dedicated to his art, a composer so prolific that he produced roughly one thousand works in an eighteen year period. Gifted with an intuitive know-how, coupled with a Mozartian facility for composition, Schubert combined the relish and wonder of an amateur with the discipline and technical rigor of a professional. He moved quickly and comfortably among genres, and sometimes composed directly into score; but many pieces required painstaking revision before they satisfied his growing self-criticism. Examining afresh the enigmas surrounding Schubert's religious outlook, his loves, his sexuality, his illness and death, Newbould offers above all a celebration of a unique genius, an idiosyncratic composer of an astonishing body of powerful, enduring music.

30 review for Schubert: The Music and the Man

  1. 4 out of 5

    Michael Finocchiaro

    This is a rather short but insightful and enjoyable biography of the short-lived genius Schubert. I knew little about him and this book sent me to Deezer and the iTunes store looking for the Trout Quartet and his other works. Unfortunately, some of the more notable work he wrote was German lieder and as someone completely ignorant of German, these songs will remain forever closed to me. That being said, he left such a beautiful range of other music that I have not yet exhausted it nor tired of e This is a rather short but insightful and enjoyable biography of the short-lived genius Schubert. I knew little about him and this book sent me to Deezer and the iTunes store looking for the Trout Quartet and his other works. Unfortunately, some of the more notable work he wrote was German lieder and as someone completely ignorant of German, these songs will remain forever closed to me. That being said, he left such a beautiful range of other music that I have not yet exhausted it nor tired of enjoying it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    James Henderson

    Schubert's short life was filled with music and his legacy to us is a wealth of melody and exceptional music spanning most of the forms of classical music. In Newbould's comprehensive biography he explores the context for this beautiful music that was so rapidly created over less than three decades. Schubert seems an intuitive composer whose technique continued to grow into his final year. The biography is divided into two sections with the first focused on Schubert's life and the second surveyi Schubert's short life was filled with music and his legacy to us is a wealth of melody and exceptional music spanning most of the forms of classical music. In Newbould's comprehensive biography he explores the context for this beautiful music that was so rapidly created over less than three decades. Schubert seems an intuitive composer whose technique continued to grow into his final year. The biography is divided into two sections with the first focused on Schubert's life and the second surveying in more detail his compositions by genre. The compulsion of Schubert's genius and the resulting music is evident on every page. Schubert attempted to write music of all types and only Opera eluded him. While his symphonies, piano and chamber music are appealing, the form he made his greatest contribution was the song. Within his hundreds of lieder are some of the best ever written. In the last year of his life, 1828, he wrote the fourteen lieder subsequently known as the Schwanengesang in addition to five others. Listening to these songs one wonders what was lost in Schubert's passing, but we can take joy in the songs and all the other fine music he bequeathed to us.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lucy Pollard-Gott

    Brian Newbould emphasizes a detailed musical analysis of Schubert's complete output which was astonishing given his early death. I would have liked some separat biographical chapters, but I could not fail to admire how this book told his life through his art. Musicians or appreciators of music who know Schubert well are sure to find this book indispensable. It would also be a suitable guide for someone listening to Schubert's recordings who wished to gain a deeper understanding of how and what h Brian Newbould emphasizes a detailed musical analysis of Schubert's complete output which was astonishing given his early death. I would have liked some separat biographical chapters, but I could not fail to admire how this book told his life through his art. Musicians or appreciators of music who know Schubert well are sure to find this book indispensable. It would also be a suitable guide for someone listening to Schubert's recordings who wished to gain a deeper understanding of how and what he accomplishes with his compositions, many of which have few peers indeed.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Elise

    I did not get far. Reading about his personal life was interesting, but most of it is about his compositions. This is a good book for a musician that can better understand and appreciate the book and the man.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Chul

  6. 4 out of 5

    John Ginther

  7. 4 out of 5

    Christian

  8. 5 out of 5

    Roger

  9. 4 out of 5

    Alan Murchie

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mark Merz

  11. 4 out of 5

    Zoe

  12. 5 out of 5

    James

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mrs L.D.Moore

  14. 5 out of 5

    Bakunin

  15. 4 out of 5

    Maria Cloos

  16. 5 out of 5

    Fashnhat

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tim Weelinck

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lucas van Lierop

  19. 4 out of 5

    Michael Evans

  20. 4 out of 5

    Bill

  21. 4 out of 5

    G.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Marisa

  23. 5 out of 5

    Joshua

  24. 4 out of 5

    Bjorn Arvidsson

  25. 5 out of 5

    Robert Loewen

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mylo

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lovisa Young

  28. 4 out of 5

    Peter Scartabello

  29. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

  30. 4 out of 5

    Bahman

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