SCHUBERT by Joseph Wechsberg


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Texts for pretty-pretty picture books need not be masterpieces of style or monuments of insight, but neither should they suggest the script of a high-school pageant. Wechsberg takes a loving, dull, superficial stroll through Schubert's ""short, uneventful"" life, using the words ""genius"" and ""immortal""--and fatuous pronouncements--the way other writers use commas and periods. ""Some people conclude that he was a sloppy worker. The truth is that he was a genius."" ""Goethe may have been many things to many men but he was no fool."" The family apartment ""must have been rather crowded and quite a few children died but Franz survived and became immortal."" ""Verdi's Otello is more exciting than Shakespeare's Othello."" ""God knows what Sigmund Freud might have discovered if Schubert had lived a hundred years later."" If there is a distinctive recurring theme here, it is a high-pitched refutation of the image of Schubert as the ""happy-go-lucky bohemian, the cheerful Biedermeier character,"" an image generally discarded even before Fischer-Dieskau's empathic, bio-critical Schubert's Songs (p. 69). For the rest, Wechsberg liberally--wisely--draws from Deutsch's definitive studies, reacts heartfully but vaguely to a few favorite works, and pummels the ""misunderstood genius"" into a glob of facts, quotes, and blather that won't distract gift-book givers or getters from full-page salutes to Vienna and other scenic delights.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1977
Publisher: Rizzoli