Schubert was born in Vienna and grew up in humble circumstances. He received his earliest lessons on the piano and violin at the hands of his brother and father respectively, but it was Michael Holzer, the bibulous choirmaster at the parish church in Liechtental, who was Schubert's first official teacher. In 1808, at the age of eleven, he enrolled at the Imperial and Royal Seminary in Vienna, where he continued to make good progress under the guidance of the eminent composer Antonio Salieri. On completing his studies at the Stadtkonvikt, he entered the Normal Scholl of St. Anna to train as a primary schoolteacher. He left the paternal home in 1816 and found refuge with his friend Franz von Schober, with whom he savoured the life of a freelance artist. In 1818 his meeting with Count Karl Esterházy provided a welcome source of income when he was invited to give private lessons to the count's daughters on their estates in Hungary.
Recognition as a composer came only slowly to Schubert and this, together with his ill health and his mood swings, clouded the final years of his life. his output, including innumerable masterpieces, was enormous given his short life: eight symphonies, eight Masses, string quartets, piano trios and a string quintet, piano sonatas and impromptus and some 600 songs, including "Gretchen am Spinnrade", "Erlkönig", and the song cycles Die schöne Müllerin and Winterreise.