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Donald Macleod introduces two works which reflect the polar extremes of Schubert's temperament, written at a time when his mental health began to deteriorate.

This prodigiously talented composer led a very full but all too brief life, dying at the age of just 31, in 1828. He is probably best known for the vast number of songs he wrote throughout his life - around 600 of them, including the two song cycles 'Die Schöne Müllerin' and 'Winterreise' plus some of the most popular symphonic and chamber music in the repertoire, such as the 'Unfinished' and 'Great C major' Symphonies and the 'Trout' Quintet. This week Donald Macleod looks at the important role the colourful individuals in Schubert's social circle had on him and his music, and how his decadent lifestyle contributed to his untimely death.
He was an intensely prolific composer - in his 18th year alone he produced around 200 works. And in spite of immense mental and physical problems he continued to do so, writing some of his best-loved music in his final year.
Schubert suffered from severe mood swings most of his adult life. When he was in his mid-twenties, they became far more extreme and his friends reported periods of dark despair and violent anger. It's hard to know at this distance, to what extent his decadent lifestyle affected his behaviour but it greatly increased his chances of succumbing to one of the major killers of the time - syphilis. From then on, his fate was sealed - although he had periods of remission, it irreparably damaged his health and if typhoid fever hadn't struck him down first, would undoubtedly have killed him.
Today, Donald Macleod introduces two works which reflect the polar extremes of Schubert's temperament, written at time when his mental health began to deteriorate.

1 hour

Music Played

  • Franz Schubert

    12 German Dances – no.1

    Performer: Mitsuko Uchida (piano)

    • Philips 470265-2.
    • 13.
  • Franz Schubert

    Die Nachtigall (1821)

    Performers: Paul Agnew (tenor), Men of the London Schubert Chorale

    • Hyperion CDJ33028.
    • 7.
  • Franz Schubert

    Symphony no.8 in B minor – Unfinished

    Performers: London Classical Players, Roger Norrington (conductor)

    • EMI CDC749968-2.
    • 5 to 6.
  • Franz Schubert

    Fantasy in C, D760 'Wanderer'

    Performer: Alfred Brendel (piano)

    • Philips 422062-2.
    • 5 to 8.

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