Soundtrack of My Life: “Ellens dritter Gesang” by Franz Schubert, as sung by Maria Callas

More famously known as “Ave Maria”, Schubert’s masterpiece and best known work as originally part of a seven song cycle based on The Lady of the Lake by Sir Walter Scott. The hauntingly beautiful and pure melody, it’s hymn-like qualities, and it’s appropriation by the Catholic Church to be used with the original Latin Ave Maria prayer all add to the myth of the song.

Schubert is one of the great Romantic composers, whose reputation was made in such a brief moment of time (he died at 31, reportedly of typhoid, but more probably of syphilis). There is much in his canon that is worthy of high praise. But the genius of Schubert was neglected in his lifetime, championed later by one of my classical heroes, Mendelssohn, and brought to the masses through Fantasia. Leave it to Disney to make Schubert cool.

It is simply one of the most perfect pieces of music ever written.

The bonus of this version, though, is the legendary Maria Callas and her voice. I rarely get to kill two birds with one stone.  Callas remains my most beloved of the grand divas, and I find her version of this magnificent prayer to be one of her grandest moments.


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