iPlayer Radio What's New?
On Now : Afternoon on 3
BBC National Orchestra of Wales - Episode 2
Image for Schubert and Friends

Sorry, this episode is not currently available on BBC iPlayer Radio

Schubert and Friends

1 hour, 15 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 25 March 2012

Schubert - In Words and Music

Continuing BBC Radio 3's celebration of The Spirit of Schubert, the words in this special edition of Words and Music come from letters by Schubert himself, read by Russell Tovey, and from letters, diaries and remininscences from his wide circle of friends, read by Anthony Calf. There are also extracts from fascinating contemporary documents including the composer's school reports, the dismissive official view of his suitability for conscription, and the poignant inventory of his paltry possessions, listed after his death.

The music is, of course, all by Schubert, a soundtrack to the life and death of this short-lived genius.

Music Played

39 items
Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes
  • Image for Franz Peter Schubert

    Franz Peter Schubert Fantasy in G major, D1 (opening)

    Performer: Duo Campion-Vachon

    Analekta Fleurs de Lys FL 2 3100

  • Announcement in the Weiner Zeitung, 1808

    read by Russell Tovey

  • Ferdinand Schubert (brother)

    read by Anthony Calf

  • Image for Franz Peter Schubert

    Franz Peter Schubert Mass in G, D 167 - Benedictus qui venit

    Performer: Maurice Bevan (baritone) Performer: David Roy (tenor) Performer: The Choir of St Paul’s Cathedral Performer: The London Bach Orchestra Performer: Barry Rose

    Guild GMCD7104

  • Schubert’s School Report 1809

    read by Russell Tovey

  • Schubert writing from school to his brother Ferdinand in 1812

    read by Russell Tovey

  • Image for Franz Peter Schubert

    Franz Peter Schubert Rosamunde - Ballet no 2 in G major

    Performer: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Performer: Enrique Batiz

    CDRPO 5006

  • Schubert’s school report from 1812

    read by Russell Tovey

  • Image for Franz Peter Schubert

    Franz Peter Schubert Mass in E flat D 950, Et incarnatus est from Credo

    Performer: Francisco Araiza (tenor) Performer: Bavarian Radio Choir Performer: Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra Performer: Wolfgang Sawallisch

    EMI CMS 7647782

  • Image for Franz Peter Schubert

    Franz Peter Schubert Marche Militaire D 733 no 1 in D major

    Performer: Jeno Jando, Zsuzsa Kollar (piano, four hands)

    Naxos 8.553441

  • Admission Form for Conscription 1818

    read by Russell Tovey

  • Anselm Hüttenbrenner (friend) on Schubert’s love affairs

    read by Anthony Calf

  • Image for Franz Peter Schubert

    Franz Peter Schubert Sonatina in G minor, D 402, Minuet

    Performer: Georgy Pauk (violin) Performer: Peter Frankl (piano)

    VOX CD 3X3042

  • Georg Franz Eckel (friend) on Schubert’s appearance

    read by Russell Tovey

  • Eduard von Bauernfeld (friend)

    read by Anthony Calf

  • Image for Franz Peter Schubert

    Franz Peter Schubert Hungarian Melody in B minor, D 817

    Performer: Imogen Cooper (piano)

    AVIE AV2158

  • Schubert to his brother Fedinand from Hungary. 1818

    read by Russell Tovey

  • Benedikt Randhartinger (school friend) reminisces about singing The Erl King

    read by Anthony Calf

  • Image for Franz Peter Schubert

    Franz Peter Schubert The Erl King D 328

    Performer: Christianne Stotijn (mezzo) Performer: Joseph Breinl (piano)

    Onyx 4009

  • Leopold Kupelwieser (friend)

    read by Anthony Calf

  • Image for Franz Peter Schubert

    Franz Peter Schubert Octet D 803 - Adagio

    Performer: Berlin Philharmonic Octet

    Nimbus NI 5577

  • Schubert to Leopold Kupelwieser 1824

    read by Russell Tovey

  • Image for Franz Peter Schubert

    Franz Peter Schubert Moment Musicaux D 780 no 3 in F minor

    Performer: Stephen Kovacevich (piano)

    EMI 5 62817 2

  • Review from the Leipzig Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung, 1824

    read by Anthony Calf

  • Image for Franz Peter Schubert

    Franz Peter Schubert Auf der Donau, op 21 no 1

    Performer: Peter Kooij (baritone) Performer: Leo van Doeselaar (fortepiano)

    BIS CD 1089

  • Schubert to his father and stepmother, 1825

    read by Russell Tovey

  • Image for Franz Peter Schubert

    Franz Peter Schubert Ellens Gesang III "Ave Maria"

    Performer: Anne Sofie von Otter (mezzo) Performer: Bengt Forsberg (piano)

    DG 472 474 2

  • Schubert to his brother Ferdinand, on holiday in 1825

    read by Russell Tovey

  • Image for Franz Peter Schubert

    Franz Peter Schubert Symphony no 5 – 1st movement opening

    Performer: Staatskapelle Dresden Performer: Sir Colin Davis

    RCA 82876 60392 2

  • Eduard von Bauernfeld (friend)

    read by Anthony Calf

  • Joseph Hüber on the first “Schubertiade”

    read by Anthony Calf

  • Image for Franz Peter Schubert

    Franz Peter Schubert Trinklied D 148, 'Let's go down fuddled with wine!'

    Performer: Peter Schreier (tenor) Performer: Horst R. Laubenthal (tenor) Performer: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone( Performer: Gerald Moore (piano)

    DG 435 596 2

  • Joseph von Spaun, Memories of Schubert

    read by Anthony Calf

  • Image for Franz Peter Schubert

    Franz Peter Schubert Winterreise : Der Leiermann

    Performer: Ian Bostridge (tenor) Performer: Leif Ove Andsnes (piano)

    EMI 5 57790 2

  • Schubert to Franz von Schober, 1828

    read by Russell Tovey

  • Image for Franz Peter Schubert

    Franz Peter Schubert Allegretto in C minor, D 915

    Performer: Imogen Cooper (piano)

    Ottavo OTRC 88821

  • Ferdinand Schubert’s account of his brother’s death

    read by Anthony Calf

  • Official report of Schubert’s death. 1828

    read by Russell Tovey

  • Inscription on Schubert’s Tomb

    read by Anthony Calf

  • Russell Tovey

    Russell Tovey

  • Anthony Calf

    Anthony Calf

  • Producer's Note

    Unlike Mozart, Schubert was not a prolific letter writer – in fact the letters he did write were often produced reluctantly, after much badgering from his would-be correspondents. He seemed to find it difficult to find the time to put pen to paper, hardly surprising given that his priority was composing.

    Fortunately though, his wide circle of friends produced many letters and reminiscences about him, and so, in this special “Spirit of Schubert” edition of Words and Music we are able to hear from both the man himself and those who knew him well. There is also a surprising amount of official documentation still surviving, from Schubert’s school reports, to the rather dismissive appraisal of his suitability for conscription (he was deemed too short and weak), and an inventory of his possessions declared after his death – just clothes, some linen and a mattress, plus an apparently worthless collection of “old music”…

    The programme opens with one of Schubert’s earliest compositions, written while at school, which frames an advertisement for choristers at the Imperial and Royal Court Seminary, at which the famous Salieri taught. Young Franz had no difficulty with the audition, and according to his brother Ferdinand, his homesickness was assuaged by his pride in his uniform, and particularly its impressive gold braid.

    Ferdinand was the brother closest to Franz throughout his life, and we can hear the young schoolboy trying to cadge some money from him, backing himself up with rather shaky biblical quotations. We don’t know whether he succeeded… As for girlfriends - Schubert’s sexuality is a source of some discussion these days, but his friend Hüttenbrenner explains why he thinks Franz seemed so utterly uninterested in women.

    Schubert manages to come up with a description of his life as a music teacher with a branch of the famous Esterhazy family in Hungary, although he has more time for the servants than the nobility. I have also chosen a passage by an old school friend, Benedikt Randhartinger, who claims (from the perspective of old age and a desire to imply he knew Schubert better than perhaps he really did) to have been the one to have given the world premiere of The Erl King, at the age of 14…

    From this point Schubert’s illness raises its head and continues in the background, a poignant counterpoint to his incredible creativity.

    I rather enjoyed a peevish review of Schubert’s songs in a contemporary music journal – the writer is outraged by the way Schubert breaks all the rules of modulation, particularly in the song op 12 no 1, Auf der Donau… Listening to it now, it’s hard to believe it caused such an attack of vitriol.

    Franz squeezes out a letter to his father and step-mother and tells of the amazing popularity of his “Ave Maria”, despite not being particularly devout himself, and goes on to manage a letter to his brother from one of the happiest times of his life – his holiday to Salzburg with the singer and best interpreter of his works, Johann Michael Vogl.

    A couple of extracts allude to the Schubertiads, musical and literary gatherings of Schubert and his friends, usually quite drunken and running late into the night… It’s rather funny to think that one man took advantage of his mother being absent from the household to hold a wild lieder party… The closing line of the accompanying drinking song advises “If we have to go down, let’s go down fuddled with wine!”

    And so to Schubert’s final months, during which he worked on the song cycle “Winterreise”, read James Fennimore Cooper, and tried to take walks and meet with his friends. But the last piece of music he ever heard was a Requiem by his brother Ferdinand, and he died soon after, leaving virtually nothing behind in terms of property, but leaving a vast musical legacy.

    Elizabeth Funning (producer)

  • Russell Tovey in the Radio 3 studio

    Russell Tovey in the Radio 3 studio


Discover Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas season

Explore the life, work and legacy of the Welsh poet on the centenary of his birth.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Added. Check out your playlist Dismiss