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Interviewer: That lovely artwork there is “Der Erlkonig”, a Lied by one of the best composers of classical and romance music of all time, Franz Schubert. This is The Classicals, a program dedicated to hosting the best of classical music’ greats in order to gain an insight on what inspires them to do what they do best; compose masterpieces that keep us yearning for more. Franz Schubert is an Austrian born in Vienna in 1797 and is already a living legend owing to his numerous lieder compositions and their high quality. He has toured around the world entertaining his fans for many decades, and in one of his performances in the USA, “The Symphonies”, July 2011, he stopped by our studios to share with us on his career spanning two centuries. The conversation unfolded as follows:
The great Mr. Franz Schumacher, welcome to the show.
Frank Schubert: Thank you John. How are you?
Interviewer: Fine thank you Mr. Schubert. I would like to start us off with a burning question, how do you still manage to be relevant, given that other genres of music have taken over pop culture from classical music in these modern times?
Frank Schubert: First of all, please call me Franz. <Laughs> Then to your question, Most of the current music lacks shelf life as compared to Classical music. Classical music is just… classical. It is inspired by love for music and not money, just look at timeless Beethoven and Mozart are.
Interviewer: You grew up in a highly musical environment and learnt to play various instruments at an age most children would be happy to plat in the backyard, exactly how did you start out?
Frank Schubert: You are definitely right there. I began harmony and counterpoint studies at the age of nine, joined the imperial chapel by the time I was eleven and developed my compositional technique at the StaatskonviktSchool. I composed my first symphony aged sixteen for the school orchestra and my first true masterpiece came two years later.
Interviewer: Very true Franz. You have churned numerous compositions throughout your career, what would you say is your main inspiration?
Franz Schubert: I would say my fans are the reason I get the motivation to do my best. They have been very supportive of me my entire career and even throughout the rough times. There are several times I would have thought of retiring but they love they showed me was enough to keep me going. I would also say that I love music a lot and it is my way of introspecting into me, you could say it is my way of escaping reality.
Interviewer: Okay, Franz. Some time back in an interview you said that the world seems to like what you have written in your greatest distress, could you please shed some light on that.
Frank Schubert: I said that after making an observation that some of my early music, such as “Gretchen at Spinning-wheel” though considered masterpieces had less impact than my work in the 1820s. The song-cycle “Die Schone Mullerin” which I composed while in hospitalized at Vienna general hospital did great, and “Die Winterreise” which is very bleak in content is considered my all time best composition.
Interviewer: That brings me to my next question, is most of the subject matter of your music inspired by your emotional state at the time of composition? This is considering that at the time you wrote Die Winterrese your love life was in turmoil.
Frank Schubert: You could say so John. A composer definitely finds it difficult to come up with cheerful music when his life probably is in need of a counselor. I believe the same happens to everybody including you, John. Let us just say I am good at composing symphonies and not acting.
Interviewer: <laughs> I like your thinking Franz. One of my listeners has just sent a message with a very interesting question. A lot of conspiracy theories have been put forward to explain where you contracted syphilis in the 1820s, would you care to comment?
Frank Schubert: I prefer to leave that unanswered. You know John, I have come to learn that creating stories is a career to some people, and I would not like to ruin anybody’s career by laying the matter to rest.
Interviewer: Your career has spanned over two centuries already, final question Franz, when do you plan on retiring?
Frank Schubert: As long as I have the energy to and inspiration to compose and perform. Besides, people still love what I do, don’t they John?
Interviewer: We all sure do Franz and we hope you will continue to entertain us for years to come. Any last words to your amazing fans as we conclude the show?
Frank Schubert: All I would love to say is thank you very much for the support. I appreciate it a lot and you are my inspiration. Look out for great compositions from me later this year.
Interviewer: I must say it has been a great honor to host you in this show. Thank Franz.
Frank Schubert: You are welcome John. It has been a pleasure.
Interviewer: It certainly has been a pleasure to have Franz Schubert in the studio with us here. He is headed to “The Symphonies” after party after this and I know you have all enjoyed having him here. This has been The Classicals with me John, and I leave you with another one of Schubert’s classics; “Die Schone Mullerin”.