Brilliant, short-lived, incredibly prolific—Schubert is one of the most intriguing figures in music history. While his music attracts a wide audience, much of his private life remains shrouded in mystery, and significant portions of his work have been overlooked.
In this major new biography, Lorraine Byrne Bodley takes a detailed look into Schubert’s life, from his early years at the Stadtkonvikt to the harrowing battle with syphilis that led to his death at the age of thirty-one. Drawing on extensive archival research in Vienna and the Czech Republic, and reconsidering the meaning of some of his best-known works, Bodley provides a fuller account than ever before of Schubert’s extraordinary achievement and incredible courage. This is a compelling new portrait of one of the most beloved composers of the nineteenth century.
“A fascinating and invaluable addition to this burgeoning literature. . . . No one alive is better equipped to slay the various Schubert myths—and her biography is undoubtedly the most scrupulous and best-informed so far.”—Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph
“[A] remarkably informative book, revealing musical and historical insights that have long been hidden.”—Laura Tunbridge, Times Literary Supplement
“This is fascinating material. . . . Illuminating observations, which are numerous, are embedded in thornier material.”—Henrietta Bredin, Country Life
“Such insights, such close reading and empathetic understanding of the motives of the figures involved make this an invaluable addition to Schubert biography.”—David Threasher, Gramophone
“With her unique combination of archival zeal, literary brilliance, meticulous knowledge of scholarly sources, and incisive musical acumen, Lorraine Byrne Bodley has produced a masterpiece: a fascinating and nuanced biography that does full justice to this complex, towering figure.”—Michael Beckerman, Carroll and Milton Petrie Professor of Music, New York University
“This is a biography for the ages. Its scholarship is oceanic, and its profoundly empathetic engagement with Schubert as man and musician is steeped in the felt life and thought of early nineteenth-century Vienna. A heroic, serenely-considered and compelling achievement.”—Harry White, professor of music, University College Dublin
“Lorraine Byrne Bodley is a gifted storyteller who guides the reader through Schubert’s life with deep psychological insight. This illuminating book connects the biography and the musical works of the troubled wayfarer, creating an intriguing link between the author’s life and the protagonist of his famous Winterreise.”—Andrea Lindmayr-Brandl, director of the Schubert Research Centre, Austrian Academy of Sciences, professor of music, University of Salzburg
“This book is an event: Lorraine Byrne Bodley slays any number of calcified myths, delves into European sources never explored before in this depth, and loops back and forth between works and biography in a way that illumines both. All Schubert-lovers will gain much from this revelatory magnum opus.”—Susan Youens, Emeritus Professor of Music, University of Notre Dame
“This biography, written with empathy palpable on every page, draws a multifaceted portrait of both the man and the composer Schubert—a fascinating picture in which life and works are related to each other in many ways.”—Thomas Seedorf, president, International Schubert Society, NSA