The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: To mark the 186th anniversary of the death of composer Franz Schubert, The Ear says YOU MUST HEAR THIS: The Adagio from his late Cello Quintet in C major.

November 19, 2014

By Jacob Stockinger

Today is the 186th anniversary of the death of the Viennese composer Franz Schubert (below) –- a composer whom I have written about increasingly because I find myself more and more attracted to his compassion and empathy, his sociability and humaneness.

Schubert idolized Beethoven, and yet these days I find much of Schubert’s music more to my taste and sensibility than Beethoven’s.

Franz Schubert big

What plentiful and great music Schubert composed in his short life -– he lived only 31 years, from 1797 to 1828. And what great music he composed in the last six months or so, even as he knew he was dying  — including orchestral music, chamber music, vocal music and piano music.

There is so much to choose from.

But today I offer just one of those many YOU MUST HEAR THIS pieces by Schubert: the slow Adagio movement from his late Cello Quintet, D. 956, written shortly before his death from syphilis.

I remember first hearing this piece in “The Love of Life” (below top) a bio-pic about piano virtuoso Arthur Rubinstein, who is seen saying (below bottom) that was the celestial music he would like to die to.

For similar reasons, I dedicate this posting to another extraordinary person who enriched my life immeasurably and who died on the same day, though in a different year, as Franz Schubert -– a person who shared so many of the same wonderful qualities and personality traits that Schubert brought to his music.

You should really one day listen to the whole work, if you don’t already know it. Chamber music simply doesn’t get any better. In fact, music doesn’t get any better.

Listen to it and hear for yourself:

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