More than two hundred years ago, on Friday, September 30, 1808, Franz Schubert and his family left home and walked to the Imperial and Royal Hall of Residence at 796 University Square in Vienna for a 3 o’clock appointment.
An advertisement four months earlier in the Wiener Zeitung set events in motion. It established the time and place of the audition where both academic and musical “progress” would be examined. Students needed to be at least eleven years old, and in possession of a school certificate. The prize: a position as one of the ten choir-boys of the court chapel with unsurpassed formal education as a border at the City Seminary.
Father Schubert, himself a schoolmaster, must have clipped this ad and kept it carefully tucked away, anxiously reviewing it several times while preparing Franz over the summer. A summer Franz spent studying, memorizing, practicing, waiting, and pondering what to wear.
There is a complete facsimile of the Wiener Zeitung for Saturday May 28, 1808. On this particular page is the ad for vacant positions in the Stadkonvict that set the events in motion. Though often cited in excerpt, it is beautiful to see the full context of the ad knowing that this is the very text that the Schubert family read.
The ad is the first complete article of the second column, marked as a "kundmachung;" something of a public service announcement. The translation of this kundmachung by Deutsch reads as follows:
"Two boy choristers' appointments having to be newly filled in the I.& R. Court Chapel, those who wish to obtain these posts are to present themselves on 30th September, at 3 p.m., at the I.& R. Seminary, 796 Universitätsplatz, and to undergo an examination, as regards both the progress made by them in their studies and such knowledge as they may have already gained in music, and to bring their school certificates with them. Competitors must have completed their tenth year and be able to enter the first grammar class. Should the boys received at the Seminary distinguish themselves in morals and studies, they are to remain there, according to Imperial decree, after mutation of the voice; otherwise they are to leave after mutation of the voice. Vienna, 24th May 1808."