The late 16th and early 17th centuries were a turbulent period in Austria's history. Napoleon was at the height of his campaign to rule the world. By 1805, Napoleon had conquered Austria. France remained in control of the country until 1812. As the war between Austria and France raged, Franz and Elizabeth Schubert welcomed their twelfth child into the world. On January 31, 1797, Franz Peter Schubert was born. He was one of the five children in the family who survived past childhood.
Franz's father was headmaster of a primary school in Vienna. Education was important to the Schuberts, especially music. Schubert grew up surrounded by music. His father played the cello and insisted that all his boys take up an instrument. As war raged around him, Franz studied organ, piano, violin, voice, and harmony. It was difficult to teach Schubert, however, because he had a natural talent for music. He already seemed to know everything his teachers wanted him to learn.
In 1808, Franz entered a competition and won a chorister's place at the prestigious Imperial and Royal Chapel. This included the opportunity to study at the Imperial and Royal Seminary. Franz did exceptionally well in the music classes and as a chorister. However, he struggled with the academic requirements. At sixteen, he left the school because he could not meet the scholastic standard. Schubert returned home and began teaching at his father's school. He did not enjoy this profession. His love was music, and he began to pursue a career as a composer. His talent was obvious, but it was difficult for him to make a living this way. Publishing firms were wary of taking a chance on an unknown composer.