Happy Birthday, Franz Peter!
Say you had a friend -- a unique, special friend. Shy, sickly and diminutive, he went through life virtually unnoticed outside a small circle, and now, after his death, might be totally forgotten but for the memories of the few who knew him. But what memories! For with the most melodious voice you ever heard, your friend could, on any day, at any time, spin entrancing, alluring tales of love, life and dreams, tales filled with eloquent prose, exquisite poetry, and a haunting, bittersweet quality that cut right to the heart. These tales could go on and on ("heavenly length" is how one of your other friends put it), returning to the same characters and settings over and over again, never trying one's patience -- well, almost never -- and at the end, still seem balanced and composed. Gifted with this unique talent from youth, your friend, never quite of this world, took you to an even deeper realm of feeling in his last years, when, as he began to suffer from the illness that he knew would make his life short, his tales touched on every emotion known to humankind, Joy, sadness, hope, despair, terror, serenity -- everything but self-pity. Sadly, your friend benefited little from his gifts, but all who partook of them knew that they were in the presence of an immortal genius.
If you haven't guessed, this is how I think of Franz Peter Schubert, who was born in Vienna on this date in 1797. Tune into WFCR for the Symphony No. 8, "Unfinished" (Carlos Kleiber and the Vienna Philharmonic), Piano Sonata in B-flat major (Rudolf Serkin), String Quintet (Toyko Quartet & David Watkin) and some of the most beautiful songs.