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Schubert and the Lieder, Special Emphasis on Der Erl Konig

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Franz Peter Schubert (1797 - 1828) was the virtual founder of German lied and was the first to make song the medium for every shade of personal feeling. He wrote six hundred lieder in all. His music is expressive, articulate and an example of a Bohemian literally overwhelmed by an unparalleled genius. Few composers have has as profound an impact on music, composition as has Franz Schubert. The first surviving publications are from age thirteen and he credited for having written one thousand compositions before his thirteenth birthday.

He was born in a little village near Vienna on January 1st, 1797. When still a child, he began the study of music under the tutelage of his father who had some knowledge of violin playing. Franz possessed a fine soprano voice and thus gained admittance to the St Stephen's choir school in Vienna, where he was given instruction in singing and learnt something of composition. He continued here till sixteen, when his voice broke.

He was, to a great extent a self-educated musician. He seemed to learn by intuition and caused one of his instructors to remark that "whenever (he) wanted to teach Franz something (he) found that he had already learnt it." One of the masters, whom he was taught by was Antonio Salieri, a contemporary of Mozart and court composer at the Habsburg Court in Salzburg. G n j

The value of Schubert's songs was first discovered by Vogl, a famous tenor singer in Vienna. It was he who persuaded Schubert to leave the school drudgery and devote

himself entirely to music. Soon, Schubert took his advice and went to Vienna where he formed the 'League of David', which was a group of literally and musically inclined young men; he soon became the ring leader of the League. From this time on, his career was one of unbroken composition.

The lied is distinguished from the earlier forms of solo song (aria, ode) in this respect, that the word-text and not the music appears as the chief element. Lieder composers generally set music that has already been written; their music gives emphasis to the poem and gets the message of the poet across more clearly. The effect of the text is enhanced by the music.

The songs fall info four main structural groups - simple strophic, modified strophic, through-composed (e.g. Die junge Nonne) and the 'scena' type (Der Wanderer); the poets range from Goethe, Schiller and Heine to Schubert's own versifying friends. Reasons for their abiding popularity rest not only in the direct appeal of Schubert's melody and the general attractiveness of his idiom but also in his unfailing ability to capture musically both the spirit of a poem and much of its external detail. He uses harmony to represent emotional change (passing from minor to major, magically shifting to a 3rd-related key, tenuously resolving a diminished 7th, inflecting a final strophe to press home its climax) and accompaniment figuration to illustrate poetic images (moving water, shimmering stars, a church bell). With such resources he found innumerable ways to illuminate a text, from the opening depiction of morning in Ganymed to the leaps of anguish in Der DoppelgÐ'nger. Schubert employed the durchocomponint (through composed) form in Der Erlkonig. The music is not divided into stanzas and the melody is continuous. His songs were vastly different from the operatic style of singing and one of

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