The quintessential "starving musician," Franz Schubert was born in 1797 in Vienna, the music capital of Europe, where he lived his entire life and where he died. He studied piano and violin with his father and older brother and at the age of ten, he was awarded a scholarship to study composition. By the age of seventeen Schubert was performing the works of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven as well as composing songs, piano pieces and a string quartet. It is primarily as a writer of songs (he wrote over six hundred) that Schubert is still loved to this day.
Schubert composed at a prolific pace, as if racing against the premature death that was to overtake him. He wrote over 1200 pieces including the ever popular "Trout Quintet." His Symphony No. 8 was never finished and is still known today as the "Unfinished Symphony." He broke off work on it because of a life- threatening illness from which he never fully recovered.
A major reason for Franz Schubert's lack of material success was due to the fact that he lived at the same time and in the same city as Beethoven and, in effect disappeared in the older man's shadow. In May of 1827 he visited the dying Beethoven and a few days later acted as one of the torch bearers in Beethoven's funeral procession. Some remarked that "the torch of genius is being passed down from Beethoven to Schubert."
In his last year, Schubert worked furiously to complete his last three piano sonatas as well as his Symphony No. 9, performed for the first time in 1848, twenty years after his death at the age of 31.
Franz Schubert was long neglected and forgotten. Only in the last few decades has he been recognized as the equal of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven as well as a strong link in the chain leading to Brahms and Mahler. He was one of the few composers whose music is for all moods, and for all seasons.