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Franz Schubert: The First Bohemian

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FRANZ SCHUBERT: THE FIRST BOHEMIAN 

It has been estimated that Franz Schubert's immense outpouring of songs, sonatas, symphonies and chamber works netted him only about $12,500 during his lifetime.

Schubert may have been the worst businessman of any of the great composers, having reputedly once traded a symphony to pay his bill at the local bakery, hence the famous story about him selling a piano sonata for a cream puff.

Schwammerl, (Tubby) as he was known to his many fiercely loyal friends, preferred coffee and hot chocolate and hot rolls, and lots of wine. He had a private booth at the local pub, and once was said to have written the theme to one of his string quartets on the back of a restaurant tab.

Schubert never had any money and was always forced to move in with friends, who gladly accepted the diminutive genius into their homes. Schubert never owned a piano, never rented one, and didn't need one to compose. 

He could compose anywhere. In fact one of the few things we know Schubert said was to a friend, whom he told, "The state should support me. I have come into the world for no purpose but to compose."

But it was Schubert's many friends who, recognizing his genius, gave him their homes as their own, and Schubert repaid his friends with a constant stream of masterpieces that were premiered in their living rooms and ballrooms, dedicated to them and eventually making their names immortal.

Schubert was perhaps one of the first hippies or socialists: he and two equally poverty-stricken artist friends started an enclave in which there was no private, personal property. 
They each shared what the other had. Whoever had money at the moment was in charge of paying the bills.

He lived a short but merry life and died all too soon, at the age of thirty-one.

By John Aschenbrenner Copyright 2008 Walden Pond Press All Rights Reserved

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