On the afternoon of Thursday the 29th of March, 1827, a coffin was solemnly processed through the streets of Vienna, watched by tens of thousands of citizens gathered to bid a final farewell to the great composer Ludwig van Beethoven, who had died in the city three days previously.
Among the thirty eight torchbearers accompanying the coffin was a fellow composer: Franz Schubert.
Beethoven had long been one of Schubert’s heroes and during his last days, the older man returned the compliment: on his deathbed he acknowledged “the spark of divine genius” which resided in the younger man.
The procession ended at the Alserkirche, the Church of the Holy Trinity, where the funeral was held. The building was very familiar to Schubert, being only twenty minutes’ walk from his parents’ home, where he had been born and brought up. The young organist at the church, Michael Leitermayer, was a friend of Schubert.
Some have claimed that it was at the organist’s request that the composer wrote what was to be his sixth and final setting of the Mass. It is this which LCS will sing this Saturday, along with a setting by Schubert of an Offertorium, a prayer sung or chanted during Mass.
Whether the attribution of the commission to Leitermayer is true or not, it was in the Alserkirche that the Mass would have its first performance in 1829. But sadly, Schubert was by then himself dead, and buried next to his hero Beethoven.
Some forty four years earlier, in 1785, in a fashionable apartment just half an hour’s walk from the same church, another composer was hard at work: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Five years previously he had moved permanently to Vienna from his birthplace, Salzburg, having fallen out with his employer, the Prince-Archbishop.
He was at the height of his powers and popularity, hence the expensive apartment. During what were to be the last eleven years of his life, he produced a huge quantity of music including no less than eighteen piano concertos. His Piano Concerto No 21 in C major, K.467 was to enjoy a particular popularity which has endured until this day.
And so this Saturday at 7.30pm we shall give you a flavour of some of the wonderful music created within the gates of Vienna by these two highly prolific and yet short-lived Austrian composers.
Grüß Gott, liebe Musikfreunde!
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Please tell your friends when you arrive at the concert, and if demand outstrips slips, you can also sign up at our ticket desk.