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Franz Schubert's Early Years in Vienna

Küche, Schuberts Geburtshaus
Kitchen, Schubert's Birthplace
by Direction of Museen der Stadt Wien, 1994 Photography by Tomoko Yamamoto

1. Schubert's Birthplace

Franz Peter Schubert was born in Vienna on January 31, 1797. His parents were not Viennese. His father, Franz Theodor Schubert, came from Neudorf near Mährisch-Schönberg (Sumperk) in Moravia while his mother, Elisabeth Vietz Schubert, came from Zuckmantel (Zlate Hory) in Austrian Silesia. Both places are currently in the Czech Republic.

Schubert's Birthplace, © 1994 Tomoko Yamamoto

His birthplace (Schuberts Geburtshaus), located at Nussdorfer Strasse 54 in the Ninth District, was called at the time "Zum roten Krebsen" (Red Crabs). When Schubert was born, his father was running a school there. The family is said to have occupied this kitchen (top photo) on the second floor and the adjoining room (photo below, empty in 1994,). It now houses the Schubert Museum and the Adalbart Stifter Memorial Rooms.

Schubert Family Room
© by Direction of Museen der Stadt Wien, 1994 Photography by Tomoko Yamamoto

Court Yard, Schubert's Birthplace
© by Direction of Museen der Stadt Wien, 1994 Photography by Tomoko Yamamoto

I visited his birthplace (Description in English with photos)for the first time when I went to Vienna as a member of the Second Presbyterian Church Choir in 1992. In the morning of the same day I had toured the Schönbrunn Palace and I arrived at the Schuberts Geburtshaus just before closing. The contrast between the palace chambers I had seen earlier and the small kitchen where Schubert is said to habe been born was so stark that I could hardly sleep that night.

The courtyard shown above is used in fair weather for the "Schubertiade", concerts devoted to Schubert's works. You can see a platform next to the gate in the above photograph. I attended one of them in June, 1994, which became an unforgettable experience. At the intermission, they passed wine glasses around the audience and the Wiener Schubertbund (Vienna Schubert Choral Society) sang one of Schubert's drinking songs. I realized that in the "Schubertiaden" of Schubert's times, this drinking must have been a part of it.

2. His Music Education

Franz Schubert was born as the fourth surviving son of a school master. It is known that he was exposed to music at an early age. His oldest brother, Ignaz, was 12 years older than he was. His family was musical in that his father taught Franz violin and his brother, Ignaz, taught him note reading and piano playing. According to a story by his brother, Franz declared after a few months that he could move on by himself and his knowledge of music surpassed his brother's quickly. Later he was to learn singing, organ playing, and music from a choirmaster, Michael Holzer, at the family's church, a short distance away from his first house on Nussdorferstrasse and also from his second house on Säulengasse. The church, Lichtenthalerkirche or Schubertkirche, still stands today and bears the plaque shown here (Schubert's Memorial Plaque, © 1994 Tomoko Yamamoto). In Schubert's times, however, the church had only one tower. The Schubert family moved to the house on Säulengasse 3 (called "Zum schwarzen Rössel", Black Horse in English) in 1801. Franz Schubert spent his early childhood in this second house until he entered the Stadtkonvikt (Imperial Boarding School, the building on the right in the photo below) as a boy soprano at the age 11.

Stadtkonvikt, Wien

Jesuitenkirche on the left and the Stadtkonvikt on the right at the Dr.-Ignaz-Seipel-Platz

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Update: February 1, 2016
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