Brahms, while ignoring Schumann and Mendelssohn, regarded Schubert as the successor to Beethoven. In particular with regard to Schubert’s songs, the long-bearded composer expressed himself in extremely laudatory terms, and the lyricist Johann Mayrhofer (1787-1836) shared in the fame; he was considered by Brahms to be “the most serious of all Schubert’s friends”.

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This Mayrhofer was a complicated guy, probably chronically depressed, tormented by all sorts of dubious inner drives that he incorporated into forms of language that were rather revolutionary for the time. He provided Schubert with the lyrics for 47 songs and 2 Singspiele.

Schubert & Co.
Johann Mayrhofer (1787–1836)

Schubert and Mayrhofer met in 1814. Their artistic firstborn was “Am See”, D124. In 1818 Schubert moved to Mayrhofer’s house. That their relationship was not limited to artistic collaboration is not considered impossible by many Schubert connoisseurs. Mayrhofer referred in one of his letters to Schubert’s sensuality, which went “so well with his own introspective character”. Yeah, yeah, yeah… But instead of indulging in irresponsible speculation, we prefer to offer you a Schubert / Mayrhofer composition: Der Sieg, D805, click HERE, performed by Matthias Goerne and Eric Schneider (piano).

Their friendship cooled in 1820. Schubert became more and more charmed by a younger generation of romantic poets and made less and less use of Mayrhofer’s lyrics. Mayrhofer was shocked by the loss of his friend. He committed suicide by jumping out of the window.

Schubert & Co.
Geboortehuis van Johann Mayrhofer te Steyr, Oostenrijk.

In 1815 Schubert composed music for Mayrhofer’s play Die Freunde von Salamanka, D326. Schubert was only eighteen when he completed this Singspiel. The content of the play can be completely ignored; it is about a heroic Fidelio (!) who defeats all kinds of bad guys and, as a reward, can call a young lady his own. The overture (click HERE) is most delightful and there are many melodies in in Die Freunde von Salamanka that lead to great joy. The entire Singspiel can be watched and listened to HERE. With Hermann Prey, Robert Holl, Kurt Rydl and Edit Mathis; unknown names, but don’t let them scare you away.


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Olivier Keegel
Olivier Keegel

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