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Schubert's Popularity

A Minute with Miles
Mary Noble Ours
SC Public Radio

In 1928, the centenary of Franz Schubert’s birth, H. L. Mencken began a celebratory essay with these words, “Franz Schubert… has evaded the indignity of too much popularity.” And Mencken lamented that, “Great stretches of Schubert’s music, indeed, remain almost unknown, even to musicians...” That’s in 1928. Now it’s true that much of Schubert’s music wasn’t published, or even publicly performed, until long after his death—so perhaps that helps explain things.

And Schubert was not exactly the greatest businessman or self-promoter in the history of music, to put it mildly. Thank goodness, then, for critics like Mencken, and for the musicians who eventually did recognize the greatness of Schubert’s music and who brought it back to life. Or as Mencken himself wrote, “Music is kind to its disciples. When they bring high talents to its service they are not forgotten...Life used [Schubert] harshly, but time has made up for it…”

This has been A Minute with Miles – a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.

Miles Hoffman is the founder and violist of the American Chamber Players, with whom he regularly tours the United States, and the Virginia I. Norman Distinguished Visiting Professor of Chamber Music at the Schwob School of Music, in Columbus, Georgia. He has appeared as viola soloist with orchestras across the country, and his solo performances on YouTube have received well over 700,000 views.