Franz Xaver Gruber (1787 - 1863)

Born as a son of linen-weavers in Hochburg-Ach, Franz Xaver Gruber taught from 1807 to 1828 in the small village school in Arnsdorf, where he also served as sacristan and organist in the church of pilgrimage “Maria im Mösl”. In 1816, he became the organist in neighboring Oberndorf, where he formed a close friendship with the priest Joseph Mohr.

To improve his financial situation, Gruber accepted a teaching/organist position 10 kilometers away in Berndorf in 1829. Six years later, he became choir director and organist in Hallein. There, he could fully devote himself to music and the church. In 1854, he drafted an “Authentic Authorship” defining the historical origins of “Silent Night” which later led to official recognition of authorship: Joseph Mohr as drafter of the “Christmas poem”, and Franz Xaver Gruber as composer of the melody.

In 1807, Gruber married the widow of his predecessor, Elisabeth Fischinger in Arnsdorf. Both of their children died at a young age. Following the death of his wife in 1825, he married his former student Maria Breitfuß. Of their 10 children, only four survived to adulthood. After Breitfuß' death, Gruber married the widow Katharina Wimmer from Böckstein in 1841. He died in 1863 at the age of 76 as a resident of Hallein.