Everything SCHUMANN - on Classical TV

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A source for the music and life of Robert Schumann: videos, news links, essays - all on Classical TV... 

 

 


 

 

WATCH SCHUMANN VIDEO PERFORMANCES:

 

 

Watch Schumann's Kreisleriana Op. 16, Papillons Op. 2, and the Arabeske in C major, Op. 18

Nicolas Economou gives a stellar performance of the Schumann piano classics at the Piano Summer Festival in Munich.

 

Jazz Interpretations of Schumann's Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood) by Jacques Loussier

Loussier's interpretations of music by Bach, Vivaldi and Schumann in the intimate surroundings of the Subway jazz club in Cologne: The result is three unique programmes of vintage Loussier.

 

Watch Schumann's Symphony No. 2

Staged specially for the cameras, enjoy a formal run-through of Schumann's Symphony No. 2 in C major, Op. 61 by the Camerata Salzburg, conducted by Roger Norrington.

 

Scenes from Goethe's Faust, set to music by Robert Schumann

Recorded live in the venerable Amanduskirche, this concert features soloists Michaela Kaune, Regina Klepper, Mihoko Fujimura, Christa Meyer, Susanne Krumbiegel, Jonas Kaufmann, Detlev Roth, and Franz Hawlata. Frieder Bernius conducted the Stuttgart Chamber Choir and the Klassische Philharmonie Stuttgart.

 

Watch The Schumann Encounter - Robert's Rescue

Focusing on Schumann's Second Symphony, this film uses a dynamic interaction between rehearsal footage and dramatised sequences to give a penetrating insight into the composer's complex and fractured genius.

 

 


 

 

Schumann: A Man of Darkness Aching for the Light

 

Robert Schumann was tormented by depression, and ultimately destroyed by it. Is there an esthetic connection between his self-destructive moods and his place in music history? Michael Clive looks for some answers.

 

More than one esteemed musical mind has called Robert Schumann the spirit of the romantic age — an age that was nothing if not spirited. What was it about Schumann in particular? Everything that a movie producer might wish for: he was possessed of a genius for music and a consuming romantic passion, complete with jealously protective father-in-law. He suffered from a mysterious, progressive mental illness that beset him with melancholia and, eventually, paralyzing depression. And he was handsome in precisely the manner of a Hollywood actor cast to play a romantic composer.

 

But most of all, there is the music itself. In it the sounds of nature upon the land are never far away, with shapely melodies and a rhythmic impetus that lend urgency to Schumann’s purling narrative lines. In the layers of complex orchestral works like the symphonies and the Manfred Overture one can always hear the inner voice of an observer seeking answers outdoors, a solitary figure finding renewal and solace in beauty but never far from darkness. Indeed, the thematic subtexts of these works often give nature an explicit presence, as in the Rhenish and the Spring symphonies. Manfred himself was a haunted Byronic wanderer. As Schumann’s life and his oeuvre progressed and his moods darkened, nocturnal themes became increasingly prominent in pieces like his Nachstücke for piano.

 

Still, if darkness is an almost palpable presence in Schumann’s compositions, so is sunshine — they are the works of a melancholy master whose music always seems to suggest that happiness is humanly possible and almost within reach. His expressive, intimately conceived piano suites have few parallels in the literature for this kind of quicksilver moodiness, most notably the brilliant Davidsbündlertänze and the popular Kinderszenen, full of both light and shadow. It seems clear that Schumann’s beloved wife Clara, a brilliant concert pianist whose keyboard skills greatly exceeded his own, was the muse for these and many other compositions.

 

Schumann and Schubert are often paired and compared, but the closeness is more a matter of the alphabet and the calendar than of artistic temperament. Of course, both wrote songs, overtures and symphonies, but the shorter-lived Schubert composed and performed more prolifically, with a seemingly effortless lack of self-consciousness. Schumann, by contrast, was fully engaged in the discourse about music, writing articles and keeping current on his and his contemporaries’ place in the unfolding history of his art. He was early in heralding Chopin’s genius, and in his friend Johannes Brahms he recognized a new generation in music. Schumann’s output of songs can’t compare to Schubert’s in sheer abundance or melodic richness (neither can anyone else’s), but Schumann’s impress both with their beauty and their psychological depth. His great cycle Frauenliebe und -Leben, which probes a mature woman’s joys and sorrows, is one of the great challenges for any woman singer of lieder.

 

In the end, darkness overtook the light in Schumann’s life, and he died in 1856 at age 46 in a state of advanced dementia. Perhaps even in this he captured the spirit of the romantic age: the terror of a looming artistic abyss. Within fifty years a sense of rudderlessness and exhaustion would overtake German and Austrian classical music.

 

 


 

SIX FACTS ABOUT SCHUMANN'S LIFE:

 

 

Alongside his musical compositions, Schumann was a working and accomplished writer, novelist and critic; in several pieces and in his journals, he wrote under the pseudonyms Florestan and Eusebius, representing his fervid and his reflective selves, respectively.

 

While studying piano under his future father-in-law, Friedrich Wieck, Schumann injured his right hand, ending any aspirations of a career as a concert pianist; theories as to the agent of the damage include: a mechanical device used to strengthen his weaker fingers; elective surgery to separate tendons between his fingers; and side effects of syphilis medications.

 

Schumann secretly dated Wieck's daughter Clara, whom Schumann met when a 13-year-old Clara performed his Symphony in G minor; Daddy Wieck wholeheartedly disapproved of the union. As such, Schumann waited in cafes for hours to see Clara during her concert tours. The couple married in 1840.

 

Even in his 20s, Schumann showed signs of mental disturbance: He first attempted suicide upon the deaths of his brother and sister-in-law; after his marriage to Clara, Schumann experienced crippling panics and phobias. He also reported incessant ringing of the note A5 in his ears.

 

Schumann's worsening symptoms - including visions of demons and "inspirational" visits from ghosts in his sleep - led Schumann to again attempt suicide by jumping off a bridge into the Rhine River; Schumann survived, but moved to an asylum in Bonn, Germany where he later died in 1856.

 

Schumann was a friend and champion of the young composer Johannes Brahms; upon Schumann's death, Brahms worked with widowed Clara to disseminate and promote the late composer's work. Clara and Brahms may have destroyed Schumann's later pieces, as the composer's deteriorating mental state marred his abilities.

 

 


 

 

SCHUMANN IN THE NEWS

 

 

Read the CD Review: Schubert: Complete Works for Violin and Piano Vol 1

German-Slovak Julia Fischer, who nearly opted for a career as a pianist, now shines in the constellation of top young violinists.

 

Robert Schumann's "missing sonata" discovered

"An 85-year-old retired engineer and also a music enthusiast, is being credited for uncovering the incomplete fourth sonata of famed Romantic 19th century German composer Robert Schumann. The piece was undetected in a collection at the Stanford University music library."

 

What I Love About Robert

Composer Lawrence Dillon discusses for Sequenza21 the aspects of Schumann's work he loves the most, including "metrical high jinks," literary skill and the regular use of "the big finish."

 

Newly discovered Schumann sonata goes online

"An edition of the seven-minute fragment that is available as a computer application you may download from his Web site, frederickmoyer.com. ... There you can listen to his performance of the sketches as you follow along with Schumann's original and the newly printed version, which are highlighted in sync with his playing."

 

The Examiner reviews the upcoming Twin Spirits DVD

Presented alongside concert performances of Schumann pieces, the "narrative is based on letters exchanged by Robert [Schumann] and Clara prior to their marriage and a 'marriage diary' that they maintained from the first day of their wedded life. These texts were performed, respectively, by Sting and his wife, the actress Trudie Styler."

 

"We are all Robert Schumann"

Kenneth D. Froelich writes for The Electric Semiquaver on Schumann's "double-life of composer and music journalist" - and ponders Schumann's position had he lived in the current era of YouTube and Twitter.

 

 


 

 

BOB HUGHES' SIX DEGREES OF MOZART - FOR SCHUMANN

 

As part of All-Time Classics, we bring you "Six Degrees of Mozart" ... for Robert Schumann. The great Mozart's musical, and sometimes personal, influence is pretty much everywhere imaginable. See where Schumann falls in the web of Mozart:

 

* When his pianist wife Clara Schumann toured Copenhagen in 1842, Schumann himself studied the scores of Haydn and Mozart symphonies.

 

* Both Schumann and Mozart composed Lieder to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe texts.

 

* Schumann's wife Clara was, like Mozart, a child prodigy on the piano; she played Mozart sonatas when she was eight.

 

* Schumann wrote an 1831 essay on Frédéric Chopin's variations on a theme from Don Giovanni, published in the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung.

 

* Contrary to our modern take on it as a work of tragic depths, Schumann considered Mozart's Symphony No. 39 in G minor (K. 550), "nothing but lightness, grace, and charm."

 

* The gigue from Mozart's Piano Trio with Violin and Cello K. 574, with its counterpoints, surprising rhythms and harmonies, influenced Schumann's fantasias.