By Donald Francis, Sir Tovey
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A wonderful example of word combinations pointing to Schubert is the expression “handfester Holzhacker” used to describe the person who lives “beym goldnen A B C” (at the golden A B C) and who is studying Beethoven’s fantasies and variations (newsletter of 23 October 1817). —may as well refer to Schubert. Other members are also associated with particular words or concepts: Leopold Kupelwieser, for example, is represented by the draisine, swimming, and comets. And, if I am correct in assuming that Schubert’s close friend Franz von Schober was regarded as the enemy—or at least as a rival to Josef Kupelwieser (in writing librettos for the composer)—then he appears everywhere in the newsletters not only as the evil Turk, Arab, • 32 • Rita Steblin or Chinaman, but also as the stupid traveler to the topsy-turvy world, “Ulf Dalkensohn,” the dumbbell with a Swedish sounding name.
When Schubert’s Zauberharfe was staged for the first time in August 1820 at the Theater an der Wien, its librettist remained officially anonymous. A diary entry by Josef Karl Rosenbaum names him as Georg von Hofmann, who usually wrote for the Kärntnertortheater. I suspect that Rosenbaum may have been mistaken. Moreover, one of the newspaper reviewers of the Zauberharfe production, “B. 24 Perhaps Schlechta was here admitting his inside knowledge that the real librettist was Josef Kupelwieser. Schubert’s melodrama was criticized by contemporary reviewers for its many drinking choruses.
19. Franz Lachner told the following anecdote about Schubert’s strict discipline: “Once, when with a group of friends, Schubert told of a sweetheart, who left him for the reason that she wanted to avenge herself for the beatings he had given her in the ABC class when he was a schoolteacher. He added: ‘It is quite true; whenever I was composing, this little gang annoyed me so much that the ideas always went out of my head. ’” See Deutsch, Schubert: Memoirs, 292. 20. Steblin, Die Unsinnsgesellschaft, 375.