In 1838, ten years after the death of Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann traveled to Vienna, and while he was there he paid a visit to the graves of Schubert and Beethoven. On a whim, Schumann decided to call on Schubert’s brother, Ferdinand, who was living in Vienna, and this turned out to be perhaps the most fortuitous social call in the history of music.
And that’s because Ferdinand showed Schumann a bunch of his brother’s unpublished manuscripts, and among them was the manuscript—the long-forgotten manuscript—of Schubert’s Symphony Number 9, the “Great C Major” Symphony. Schumann immediately recognized it as a masterpiece—a piece, he later wrote, that takes us far beyond “mere ordinary joy and sorrow” to “a region that we never before explored.” He sent the music on to Felix Mendelssohn, who had it played by the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra—and the rest is history. But imagine if Schumann hadn’t made that social call!
This has been A Minute with Miles – a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.