Recently, I have had the wonderful opportunity to play duets with my father - he plays cello and I play violin. In our search for music, my father came across a piece called the Puzzle Minuets by Johann Schobert. They are a delightful set of duets where the music is written so it can be played either right side up or upside down.
After playing Johann's puzzle minuets, I was curious to learn his story. The story is that not much is known about him, but what is known is very interesting.
Historians are unsure of Johann's exact birth date. There is doubt in knowing the exact year he was born, the years range anywhere from 1720 to 1735 to 1740. He was born in Germany. Nothing is known about his family or his years growing up until he moved to Paris in 1760/61.
In Paris, Johann came to work for Louis François I the Prince of Conti. While working for the nobleman, Johann became well known for both playing harpsicord and composing music. He wrote many sonatas as well as six concertos for the harpsicord.
His work for the Prince of Conti allowed Johann to meet many influential musicians. He met the Mozart family while they were on tour in Paris. Young, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart would go on to study some of Johann's sonatas and arrange them as movements for his piano concertos.
Yet music is not what Johann is most well known for, it was his unusual and untimely demise. He went picking mushrooms with his family near Paris and tried to get several cooks to fix them but most were to wise. Johann asked a doctor friend of his and the doctor advised him that they were edible. One version of the story shares it thuswise:
"On August 28, 1767 Schobert was having guests over for dinner with his family at his home in Paris. Part of the meal was a course of mushrooms. As the mushrooms were brought to the table, Schobert’s guests exclaimed that the mushrooms were poisonous. Schobert, however, was not convinced; he was confident that the mushrooms were fine to eat. Schobert, his family, and his guests all ate the mushrooms. Not only did Schobert die, but his wife, one of his children, his maid, and four of his guests died that night. Looks like Schobert should have listened to his friends – don’t eat the poisonous mushrooms!" (1)
May you have a wonderful week and don't forget to listen to your friends (and family) they have your best in mind!
All Music ~ Artist Biography
Wikipedia ~ Johann Schobert