Franz Schubert and his dreams of a lost Paradise
A portrait of the composer’s testimony with his music and poems by his friends
Piano and Concept: Sebastian Knauer
Compilation of text: Wolfgang Knauer
“Whenever I wanted to sing of love it turned to pain and whenever I wanted to sing of pain, it turned to love”. These words stem from Schubert’s autobiographical fragment “My Dream”, words that on the one hand mirror his father complex and on the other talk of his longing for a world filled with love, friendship and kindness.
For a long time the composer was regarded as being rather placid and awkward, a shy musician at all times who brought forth songs and instrumental works as if in an inspired trance. In this allegory of dreams he appears as a profoundly reflective artist who traces with intensity the very source of his musical creations. Somewhere else he says of himself “my work exists only due to my understanding of music and my pain.”
In his poems as well as in letters and diary entries Schubert tried to come to terms with the facts of life at that time that bore the stamp of a catastrophic economic misery and a police-state-like patronising of the people. Under the heading “Lamentation to the people” he paints a dark picture of the “miserable reality” of Metternich’s system, which meant spiritual and cultural standstill and was aimed at transforming the population into obedient subjects. “O youth of our time, you have gone forever” are words from one of his poems which credits the arts as the only way “to lessen the pain”.
Schubert did not directly rebel against the regime of despotism and censorship in Austria at that time, however, he positioned himself clearly alongside those young poets and literates who were in opposition and dreamt of a better future made possible due to their liberal ideals. His artistic conclusion is witness to his efforts to improve reality through fantasy, the “most precious jewel of humanity”, yet he was unable to distance himself from the “mysterious longing” for the lost paradise. In 1823 he wrote “My Prayer” which starts “Holy anxiety of deep longing reaches out to better worlds…..”
In this programme the texts are framed by piano works by Franz Schubert, amongst them the Impromptus op. 90 and op. 142 written during the final phase of his life which, thanks to their poetic wealth, have become the essence of Schubert’s piano music.