Certain anomalous events in the history of Franz Schubert's family raise the possibility that he and his family inhabited a more tumultuous and conflict-ridden domestic universe than has been suspected. Among these are a series of painful losses in his mother's early life, the out-of-wedlock conception of Schubert's eldest brother, Ignaz, and Ignaz's subsequent omission from a schedule of heirs to some family property, along with his extended relegation to the lowly post of assistant teacher for more than a quarter century, until the death of his father, Franz Theodor Schubert, in 1830. In the background of these anomalies is the young Franz Theodor's unexpectedly rapid rise to prosperity in his profession, in which he and his sons had the decisive support of Bishop Josef Spendou, Vienna's superintendent of elementary schools, who was regarded as their "benefactor." Spendou's remarkably extensive devotion to the family's interestsÑincluding supplying a "scholarship" for Ignaz and a valued schoolteacher's post for young FerdinandÑopens for inspection several possibilities--that he may have been Ignaz's biological father, and that he and Schubert's parents may have entered into an arrangement whereby he furnished material and professional support to them in exchange for their raising his son as their own. Ultimately, when Franz Theodor died, Ignaz became the sole inheritor of the family's prosperous school, perhaps thereby closing the circle of pledges and obligations that bound Bishop Spendou and the Schuberts together. Left unexamined here are the potential reactions of Schubert and his siblings to their presumed knowledge of these veiled arrangements.
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