Schubert - Am See
Type of Spiritual Experience
Johann Mayrhofer (1787–1836) was an Austrian poet, and a major inf luence on Schubert’s development as a songwriter. It was in December 1814 that Schubert made the acquaintance of Mayrhofer, the 'tragic poet', the musician's senior by a full ten years.
Mayrhofer studied law in Vienna, and seems to have maintained himself by teaching until 1820, when he became an official in the Censorship Office. He and Schubert shared rooms for two years from the autumn of 1818. Mayrhofer’s neo-classicism, and his deep commitment to Romantic ‘longing’ was an important source of the melancholy so characteristic of Schubert’s greatest work. In his memoirs he wrote
My acquaintance with Schubert was brought about by a young friend giving him my poem, 'Am See,' to set to music. The friend brought him to that very room which, five years later, 1819, we were destined to share in common. It was in a dark, gloomy street. House and furniture were the worse for wear; the ceiling was beginning to bulge, the light obstructed by a huge building opposite, and part of the furniture was an old worn-out piano and a shabby bookstand such was the room. I shall never forget it nor the hours we spent there...This depth of sentiment and mutual love for poetry and music drew our sympathies closer and closer; I wrote verses, he saw what I wrote, and to these joint efforts many of his melodies owed their beginning, end, and popularity in the world.'