Classic Cocktails and Classical Music: Schubert

The World Glows with a New Splendor

Klimt painting of Schubert playing the piano
"Schubert at the Piano" 1899 by G. Klimt
Robert Schumann (the famous composer also reviewed music) wrote: "A glance at Schubert's Trio, and all the miserable human commotion vanishes; the world glows with a new splendor."

Franz Schubert died of typhoid just shy of his 32nd birthday in 1828. He found little commercial success in his lifetime, partly because he lived in a Vienna that was utterly dominated by the towering fame of Beethoven, and partially because he died before he could "get discovered." After his death, manuscripts began to circulate and his reputation slowly grew.

Schubert had a circle of friends that thought the world of him and threw parties known as "Schubertiads," to give the artist, unknown outside of Vienna, a forum in which to perform his works. I imagine those parties had moments like the one pictured here by Gustav Klimt (By the way, this painting was destroyed in 1945 when the retreating Germans set fire to Schloss Immendorf.) Imagine for a moment, that you are in Vienna in the early part of the 19th century.  It's a cool evening.  The windows are open and the candles flicker.  Everyone's had enough wine to sparkle with excitement and optimism. Someone shouts, "Franz, play us something!" Schubert sits at the piano. The serenade, linked below, quiets the room.  A woman steps up to the composer and sings.  A chill runs down your spine at the haunting beauty of the melody and lyricism.  You think about this moment, and maybe you think, I am witnessing history, or maybe you just notice that "the world glows with a new splendor."

Serenade with the vocals (Crank up the fog machines!):

Serenade with strings and no vocals:

(By the way, I recently found, in a discount-bargain-bin, an absolutely stunning record of Rosa Ponselle, the opera star. The LP kicks off with her rendition of this Schubert Serenade recorded in 1926 which will absolutely make you melt... you'll hear more about that LP in a future posting, I'm sure... once I find the right pairing.)

Tonight, I'm listening to Schubert's Trio No. 1 in B-flat, Op. 99 performed by The Stern/ Rose/ Istomin Trio. This work pairs well with one of my new favorite cocktails: a Pastis Martini.

Cocktail recipe: A Pastis Martini.
A Pastis Martini
I came across this recipe while reading the W. Somerset Maugham classic, The Razor's Edge. The narrator says, "I poured out the gin and the Noilly-Prat and added the dash of absinthe that transforms a dry Martini from a nondescript drink to one for which the gods of Olympus would undoubtedly have abandoned their home brewed nectar..." How could I not try such a drink after that description? Anyway, I prefer Pastis, not only because it tastes better, but because absinthe gives me a headache.

My recipe for a Pastis Martini:

2.5 oz. London Dry Gin
.5 oz Dry Vermouth
.5 oz Pastis

Shake with ice. Strain into a chilled glass. Serve without an olive.


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  1. Thank you, Eric. I'm glad that my sad journey provides a useful by-product. My world used to be limitless. Then it shrunk like an old television tube before it blinks out. It has made me reevaluate everything and become grateful the little things... a record, a cocktail, the short time spent with a friend. I wish you well. We are broken, but what remains is unbreakable.


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