In Praise of Drinking

1815 was an extraordinarily creative year for Franz Schubert. Aged 18, working as a schoolteacher and receiving composition lessons from Antonio Salieri, in the same year he composed four operas, two symphonies, 150 songs (nine in one day!), liturgical music (including two masses), one string quartet and several piano pieces.

Composers and the Demon Drink

Theirs was not an auspicious first meeting. The young Johannes Brahms was on a walking holiday en route to visiting Robert and Clara Schumann, when he stopped at  Weimar in June 1853 to hear Franz Liszt give a private performance of his magisterial Piano Sonata in B minor, a work now regarded as one of…

Liszt in Weimar

“Do I care how fast you can play your octaves?”, Liszt remarked to a pupil in a master class, clearly unimpressed with the playing “what I wish to hear is the canter of the horses of the Polish cavalry before they gather force and destroy the enemy!”

From Major to Minor – Schubert’s Die Schöne Müllerin

With the song-cycle Die Schöne Müllerin (“The Miller’s Lovely Daughter”), Franz Schubert (1797 – 1828) crafts one of his most loved and deeply-felt works. Its beguilingly simple tale of youthful optimism and unrequited love is a universal one in which the protagonist, an infatuated young miller, lurches from fervent passion to the leaden depths of despair and, ultimately, perdition.