Figures of Speech HOME

Home

2018

2017

2016

The month 12

Scrapbook 12

Road to nowhere

Backup hell

Beyond analysis

Winter solstice

Judge Judy

Betjeman Christmas

Veiled Modesty

Energy made easy

Nobel Ceremony 2016

Schober? [9]

The month 11

Scrapbook 11

Word Of The Year

Man and machine

Cognitive dissonance

Schubert trajectory

No change

The month 10

Scrapbook 10

That man again

Freedom of speech

A victim remembers

The conquering hero

Schiaparelli

The Man in Black

Cox and Box

Bees pulling strings

Those formative years

John Dalton

The grape harvest

Babi Yar

Bible studies

Jacobin Conspiracy [6]

The month 09

Scrapbook 09

Wrong again

That Sappho thing

Rustling inspiration

Channelled speech

The houseman's friend

Wishful thinking

Churchill in Zurich

Franz's belljar

The other Spaun

Walking with Walser

Stephen McIntyre

The month 08

Scrapbook 08

Arthur Szyk

Climate alarmism

Citroen DS23

Artificial Intelligence

Portrait of the age

Shipwreck [7]

The month 07

Scrapbook 07

The Bastille Spirit

Classic books

Mechanics

Devaluing the family

Andrea Leadsom

Outrage

Habsburg cradle

UK politics

The month 06

Scrapbook 06

The Chosen Ones

Referendum mop up

Voters

Wonderment

Last words

Gretchen am Spinnrade

The alien hatches

Carbon dioxide

Ignorants

Electoral Commission

Sahra Wagenknecht

The green tick

The month 05

Scrapbook 05

The Sun Queen

Before Schubert

The grandparents

The two brothers

Vienna

The two sisters

The composer's family

European wars

Timelessness

Saving time

EU referendum

Protestant Ethic [9]

The month 04

Scrapbook 04

Cherry blossom

Dark chocolate

Out of the swamp

Richard North

Do not sleep

Imperial chemistry

Lili Marleen

The Habsburg lip

The month 03

Scrapbook 03

Bedsheet, spreadsheet

French dodo

Lenten thoughts

Heinrich Heine

The great survivor

The Swiss muddle

Hans Erni

Switzerland defused

Tristram's bad start

Montségur [5]

The month 02

Scrapbook 02

Frosty wreck

Language lab

Referendum reloaded

Graven images

Die Forelle [5]

The grass on the weirs

The month 01

Rabid lexicography

Not like us

Language lab

IKEA's loose screw

Nathan's rings

Brief Encounter II

Mohammed, not my prophet

Lunatic calendars

Hidden Hemingway

Sharing the risk

Bathtime for St. Kevin

The dismal science

The below above

Sanitised swearing

Souvenirs

Rockers do it better

2015


Updated content

Contents list

Site search

Blogroll

About


Schubert collection

Home | 2016

Before Schubert

Posted by Richard on UTC 2016-05-24 08:41.

Ancestors? Who needs them?

Biographers rarely linger over their subject's ancestry, with good reason. Only the most punctilious scribblers write chapters that reach back beyond the immediate family, even back to ancestors who may have been just as unknown to the subject as they are to us.

Then there is the nature-nurture problem – like the poor, always with us. Entire books could be filled in the attempt to derive the subject's character and abilities from the ancestral genes and parental natures.

Out of the soil

In the case of the composer Franz Peter Schubert, the ancestors are of more interest than usual. In the course of two generations, we move from the world of feudal peasants living in a distant province of the Holy Roman Empire to the life of a musical genius in its capital, Vienna. Each of those two generations –  the composer's grandparents and then his parents  – took a gigantic step in raising the family out of its agricultural anonymity.

A practical point before we begin. On this journey out of the past we are going to have to cope with identifying people using multiple Christian names: a single Franz, Karl or Johann(es) will not suffice. Each family had its own tradition of names for its permutations. There were at times unwritten rules about adopting the names of particular ancestors at particular positions in the sequence, causing the same names to resurface down the generations. In our journey down these two generations I am going to have to try hard to avoid causing confusion and you are going to have to pay attention – you at the back there! You know who I mean!