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Franz Schubert: A Guide to Resources at the Library of Congress

One of the most popular and influential composers of art song and other classical music genres in the 19th century, Franz Schubert and his music are well represented in the Music Division's print, manuscript, and digital collections.


Franz Schubert. Lithograph. Undated. Library of Congress Music Division.

Franz Peter Schubert (1797-1828) is considered one of the most influential Viennese composers of classical art music. The Library of Congress Music Division holds over two dozen manuscripts of Schubert's works, primarily of his lieder [German/Austrian art song]. The Division's collection also includes many first and early editions of the composer's music as well as editions with prominent performers' annotations.

Prior to Schubert's settings, lieder tended more toward strophic, syllabic text treatments. But many of Schubert's lieder are quite dramatic, innovative in their use of harmony, and rich in their ability to use the keyboard accompaniment for pictorial license. In his over 600 lieder, Schubert set to music the words of major poets, including Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Schiller, Heinrich Heine, Friedrich Rückert, and Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff. Schubert's two major song cycles, Die schöne Müllerin and Die Winterreise, are settings of poems by Wilhelm Müller. But Schubert also set many poems by virtually unknown poets, such as his friend, Johann Mayrhofer.

Schubert is also known for his piano sonatas, waltzes, ländler, and other dances; late string quartets and string quintet; and sacred works for voice and chorus. Many scholars well into the 20th century have struggled to define his musical style, debating whether his music fits the Viennese Classical or burgeoning Romantic mold.

The Performing Arts Reading Room holds a significant collection of materials representing Schubert and his music. These materials include music manuscripts, first and early editions of music scores, critical editions, scholarly literature on Schubert, facsimiles, special collections, iconography, and access to a variety of subscription databases.

Contact the Recorded Sound Research Center or the Moving Image Research Center directly for information on recordings or film footage.

About the Performing Arts Reading Room

The Performing Arts Reading Room is the access point for the collections in the custody of the Music Division at the Library of Congress. Numbering approximately 20.5 million items and spanning more than 1000 years of Western music history and practice, these holdings include the classified music and book collections, music and literary manuscripts, iconography, microforms, periodicals, musical instruments, published and unpublished copyright deposits, and close to 500 special collections in music, theater, and dance.