Schubert Down on His Luck


Franz Schubert writing from Vienna to a friend in Rome, March 31st, 1824:

“I feel like the most miserable, most unhappy being in the world. Imagine a man whose health will never entirely recover and whose despair about it only makes matters worse. Imagine a man whose brightest hopes have amounted to nothing, to whom the joys of love and friendship can offer only the greatest pain, whose enthusiasm for beauty is dying away. Then ask yourself if that man isn’t the most wretched of beings.

“’My peace has gone, my heart is heavy.’ I could sing those words every day because every night I go to bed hoping that I won’t ever wake up again, and each morning only brings back the grief of the day before. So I spend my days joyless and friendless, except that Schwind sometimes drops by and brings a ray of sunshine from happy days gone by.

“As you probably already know, our literary society committed suicide by drinking too much beer and eating too much sausage. But I have hardly been to a meeting since you left. Leidesdorf , whom I have come to know very well, is a good man indeed but so melancholy that I think I’ve been unduly affected by him. Anyway, his business and mine are going so badly that neither of us has any money. Your brother’s libretto was declared to be useless, the result being that my music wasn’t wanted either.

“Cantelli’s libretto to The Conspirator had been set to music in Berlin by a local composer and received with applause, so I seem to have written two more operas for no reason. The latest news in Vienna is that Beethoven will be giving a concert at which his new symphony, three pieces from a Mass, and a new overture are to be performed. God willing, I’ve a notion to give a similar concert in the year to come.”

Franz Schubert down on his luck, but holding out hope for the future as he wrote from Vienna to a friend in Rome on March 31st, 1824.

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