Schubert's life

On this page we provide brief overviews of Schubert's life and times and year by year reviews, by SIUK member Arnold Howarth. These are not intended to be a full biography, but a brief narrative placing the music that Schubert wrote in the broader context of the main events in his life.  

Select a year from the table, and the page will be updated to show very brief details of Schubert's life in that year, and also World events. From 1808 onwards, we show the year by year reviews.

Year / Age
Schubert details
World details
1797 (0)

Franz Peter Schubert born 31st January, at the Himmelpfortgrund in Vienna, 12th child (but only 5 survived childhood) of Franz Theodor Schubert and Elisabeth, née Vietz.

Napoleon's North Italian Campaign. Beethoven 27, Haydn 65, Rossini 5, Salieri 47, Weber 11, Schiller 38, Goethe 48, Donizetti & Heine born.

1798 (1)

First performances of Haydn's Creation and Seven Last words

1799 (2)

Napoleon's coup d'etat. Beethoven completes Pathétique Sonata.

1800 (3)

Battle of Marengo. Beethoven's first public concert; he also completes 1st symphony & string quartets Op 18.

1801 (4)

Schubert family moves to the house in the Säulengasse.

Bellini born. Beethoven's letter to the 'immortal beloved'. First performance of Haydn's The Seasons

1802 (5)

Schubert starts keyboard lessons with elder brother Ignaz

Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas born

1803 (6)

Berlioz born. Zumsteeg dies.

1804 (7)

Napoleon proclaimed Emperor, Franz I becomes Emperor of Austria. First performance of Eroica symphony. Schiller writes William Tell. Birth of Johann Strauss the Elder.

1805 (8)

Schubert sings in choir of Liechtental church. Father introduces him to violin.

Napoleon occupies Vienna, battle of Austerlitz. Hans Christian Andersen, Boccherini, Schiller die. First performance of Fidelio

1806 (9)

Schubert studies under Holzer at Liechtental church

1807 (10)

Schubert introduced to Salieri

1808 (11)

Schubert passes audition for Imperial chapel and enters Stadtkonvikt.

Goethe publishes first part of Faust. First performance of Beethoven’s 5 th & 6th symphonies.

1809 (12)

Schubert plays violin at Stadtkonvikt, and is referred to as ‘a musical talent’

Austria’s insurrection against France fails. Mendelssohn born, Haydn dies.

1810 (13)

Earliest surviving compositions.

Schumann, Chopin born.

1811 (14)

Earliest surviving complete songs.

Liszt born.

1812 (15)

Schubert’s mother dies. His voice breaks and he studies counterpoint with Salieri.

Founding of Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna.

1813 (16)

Schubert leaves the Stadtkonvikt, and completes first symphony

Battle of Nations at Leipzig. Wagner and Verdi born. First performances of Beethoven’s 7th, and Rossini’s Tancredi and L’Italiana in Algeri.

1814 (17)

Schubert trains as Primary School Teacher, meets Mayrhofer and falls in love with Therese Grob. Writes Gretchen am Spinnrade

Abdication of Napoleon, peace treaty of Paris, Congress of Vienna

1815 (18)

The “annus mirabilis” – Schubert working as primary teacher composes about 150 songs including Erlkönig, symphonies 2 & 3, 4 operas, 2 masses and other works

Birth of Bismarck. Napoleon escapes from Elba, Battle of Waterloo.

1816 (19)

Schubert completes 4th & 5th symphonies, over 100 songs. Goethe ignores dedication.

Rossini completes the Barber of Seville

1817 (20)

Schubert meets Vogl. Symphony no 6, overtures in ‘Italian Style’, die Forelle, first piano sonatas.

1818 (21)

Schubert leaves family and becomes freelance musician. Italian style overtures played in public. The song Erlafsee is his first work to appear in print. Summer work as tutor in Zseliz.

Karl Marx born.

1819 (22)

First public performance of Schubert song (Schäfers Klage). Trout quintet & piano sonata in A D664 composed, completes Die Zwillingsbrüder

Franz von Suppé born.

1820 (23)

Both Die Zwillingsbrüder and Die Zauberharfe produced and run for a few days. Lazarus and the Quartettsatz composed.

1821 (24)

First "Schubertiad". Erlkönig published as Op 1. Starts work on Alfonso und Estrella.

Death of Napoleon. First performance of Weber's Der Freischütz

1822 (25)

Alfonso und Estrella completed. Symphony no 8 left unfinished, Wanderer fantasy composed. First signs of Schubert's syphilis.

Rossini in Vienna.

1823 (26)

Fierabras, Die Schöne Müllerin and Rosamunde composed.

1824 (27)

Publication of Die Schöne Müllerin. Composition of Grand Duo, the Octet and Rosamunde and Death and the Maiden quartets. Second visit to Zseliz.

Bruckner and Smetena born. First performance of Beethoven's 9th symphony and Missa Solemnis. Byron dies.

1825 (28)

Rieder paints Schubert portrait. He begins composition of "Great C Major" symphony. Late piano sonatas

Johann Strauss the Younger born.

1826 (29)

"Great C Major" symphony finished.

Weber dies.

1827 (30)

Composes Winterreise, piano trios, Moments Musicaux

Beethoven dies, Schubert torch bearer at funeral

1828 (31)

Successful Schubert concert. He composes last Mass, string quintet, Schwanengesang, 3 piano sonatas, sketches 10th symphony, songs Dir Hirt auf dem Felsen & Die Taubenpost

Birth of Ibsen and Tolstoy.


Schubert dies Nov. 19 of Nervenfieber.

Annual Review of Schubert's life

1797 - 1807

Annual reviews start for 1808.