Writing Under the Influence?: Salieri and Schubert's Early Opinion of Beethoven

Gibbs, Christopher H.

In 1822, Schubert dedicated his Variations on a French Theme for Piano
Four-Hands, Op. 10 (D624) to Beethoven. This dedication was his most
public and extravagant proclamation of an abiding reverence for the older
master that he held until his dying day. Indeed, if Ferdinand Schubert is to
be believed, his younger brother's last wish was to be buried near Beethoven,
which is exactly what happened (Deutsch 1946:825). A lifelong devotion is
implied in Schubert's letters and plainly stated in the recollections of family
and friends. The impress and challenge of Beethoven's music on
Schubert's is also apparent from the start of his compositional career, and
only intensified, I believe, as he matured and engaged with it ever more
directly. Beyond purely compositional matters, Schubert modeled his professional
career on Beethoven's in crucial respects and benefited from his
relations with many of the same performers, publishers, patrons, and critics
who were involved with the older composer (Solomon 1979a; Gingerich
1996; Gibbs 2000). Contemporaries frequently made comparisons between
their compositions; as we shall see, critics usually mentioned Beethoven
when reviewing Schubert's piano and chamber works.



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Columbia University
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November 5, 2014