Born in Vienna, Schubert studied under Antonio Salieri, and spent most of his life teaching at various schools and courts around Austria. Despite his prolific output – including 600 songs, seven symphonies, and a plethora of chamber music – he never gained widespread acclaim during his lifetime, but his indelible mark on the music of the late classical and early romantic eras has long since seen him recognised as one of the greatest composers of his generation.
Schubert’s Schwanengesang (‘Swan song’) is a posthumous collection of lieder, published in 1829 by Tobias Haslinger, who is thought to have given the cycle its poignant name. Ständchen (Serenade) is the fourth of fourteen movements, using as its text a poem by the German writer and music critic Ludwig Rellstab, in which the subject exhorts his lover to make him happy. It remains one of Schubert’s best-loved works, and can be heard in a myriad of arrangements for different instrumental combinations.