This year we devote a whole day of the Machynlleth Festival to the music of composer Franz Schubert. But who was he, and what made him so famous? Here are 10 nuggets of info about the man and his music.

1. Franz Schubert was the king of what’s known as Leider, what might be described as ‘art songs’. With most songs the tune comes first, but Leider are different – the words have equal weight with the music, the role of which is to take the poem to a new level, adding emotion and character.

When we say he was the ‘King’ of Leider we mean it. He wrote over 600, with an astonishing 145 in one year alone, 1815. However…only 187 actually got published in his lifetime.

2. His nickname was ‘Little Mushroom’. Not the most flattering. He gained this nickname by virtue of his modest height (five foot one), and the fact he liked his food just a little too much.

3. He was a lover of parties and socialising, holding “Schubertiades” – parties where he and his friends and fans drank and enjoyed making music together. Hence the modern day use of ‘Schubertiade’, marking a celebration of his music.

4. He sang in the famous Vienna Boys Choir. After passing audition for the choir Franz was eligible for free tuition, a boarding room and a place at one of Vienna’s best schools.

5. He was a torchbearer at Beethoven’s funeral, alongside other famous composers of the day including Hummel. Beethoven was an admirer of Schubert’s work saying “Truly in Schubert, there is a divine spark”.

6. Schubert’s fame unfortunately only came after his death. While he was buried alongside Beethoven as he had requested, his own funeral was a pretty modest affair.

7. There was only one public concert of his music in his lifetime. It didn’t get a single review because the rather more famous Paganini was performing a few days later, which got all the attention. Getting reviews for classical concerts hasn’t got any easier since either…

8. It’s not all about quantity but…the sheer output of Schubert, even aside from songs, is staggering. Operas (11), symphonies (7 completed, up to 13 started), string quartets, quintets, 20 piano sonatas, 50 choral works. It’s pretty amazing, and even more so when you realise his career lasted only 20 years.

9.Vienna’s got talent. Acting as a sort of Viennese Simon Cowell, composer Antonio Salieri (the one who almost certainly didn’t murder Mozart, despite what the film Amadeus might have us believe) was the one who spotted the talent of Schubert when he was aged just 7. He got him that place in the boys choir and also taught him music theory.

10. Genius cut short. Schubert died in 1828, aged 31, having been seriously ill for some time with symptoms including headaches, fever, swollen joints and vomiting. We don’t actually know what killed him – it’s been long assumed to have been Syphilis, then a very serious disease, but illnesses such as Leukaemia or Anaemia are also possible, as is the chance he was suffering from mercury poisoning (with mercury being a common treatment for Syphilis).

Bonus fairly horrible fact. The graves of Schubert and Beethoven were moved in 1888, so they could rest next to fellow composers Johann Strauss II and Brahms. The composer Anton Bruckner was there and there are accounts of him reaching into the coffins to hold and kiss, yes kiss, the skulls of the great composers.

Experience the music of Schubert as part of the Machynlleth Festival on 24 August with our Masterclass, Schubertiade Lunchtime concert, Masterclass Concert and evening concert with pianists Elisabeth Leonskaja and Julius Drake.