Friday, September 20, 2013

Montage # 123 – Schumann & Schumann



As of October 11, 2013, this montage will no longer be available on Pod-O-Matic. It can be heard or downloaded from the Internet Archive at the following address / A compter du 11 octobre 2013, ce montage ne sera plus disponible en baladodiffusion Pod-O-Matic. Il peut être téléchargé ou entendu au site Internet Archive à l'adresse suivante:

https://archive.org/details/Pcast123


pcast123- Playlist

===================================================================== English Commentary – le commentaire français suit

Almost 30 years ago, I remember sitting at a wedding reception. The groom, a fellow student, was sitting at the head table next to his proud bride, and her father stood up to deliver a toast. In doing so, he listed her achievements: virtuoso trombonist, expert scuba diver, summer internship as a marine biologist, and now newly admitted to medical school. I turned to a buddy and said “Good God, he’s marrying Indiana Jones!”

Sometimes, it’s hard to say who married “up”, the bride or the groom. According to piano teacher Friederich Wieck, it would be safe to assume he thought his pupil Robert Schumann married “up” when he wed his daughter Clara in 1840. Three years earlier, he had refused. ridiculing his daughter's wish to "throw herself away on a penniless composer."

Schumann, we learn, was quite the learned fellow, adding study of the law and penning essays to his long list of achievements. Aspiring to a concert pianist career, he worked with Wleck on his technique, later injuring a hand making that dream impossible. His bride, however, was an accomplished pianist, and for over 60 years established herself as one of the finest pianists of the Romantic era.

Clara Schumann’s mother was a fine singer, and had divorced her father when she was five. After the split, she stayed with her father who endeavored to see to it she became an accomplished musician, adding composition and harmony lessons to the piano regimen. Miss Wleck, who met Mendelssohn and other contemporary stars of the period during her early life, saw him and his Gewandhaus orchestra conduct the premiere of her piano concerto at age 17. We read that she consulted with her then-beau when it came to this major composition, but likely orchestrated the whole thing herself. The collaboration between the two throughout their time together includes the many times she premiered and championed his piano works – including his piano concerto (notably, both are in A minor).

Clara Schumann, on top of raising eight children and maintaining a concert pianist career, managed to compose throughout her life: mostly piano and lieder, but there are some chamber works as well. It is hard to compare her works to her husband’s – though I did program two sets of three romances one set by each for you to do so.

In addition to the three romances, I added Robert’s mammoth Symphonic Etudes, really a set of virtuoso variations for piano. He wrote two versions – the original version (sometimes numbered 13a) is the one I retained from a live performance by Canadian pianist Robert Silverman.

From Mrs. Schumann, adding to her set of romances, I added her four pieces fugitives, a thinking pianists view of escapist music. To complete the set, a work the couple maybe performed together in private, his six impromptus for piano four-hands Bilder aus Osten (Oriental Pictures).


I think you will love this music too.


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Commentaire français

Parfois on est en droit de se demander, lorsqu'un couple choisit de s'unir, qui se trouve à bénificier de la situation? Si on croit le professeur de musique Friederich Wieck, il faudrait croire que son élève Robert Schumann s'est mieux tiré de la situation que sa fille Clara - Wleck s'opposera à leur union pendant plus de trois ans, suggérant à sa fille qu'elle perdrait son temps à épouser un compositeur voué à une pauvreté certaine!

Il faut toutefois comprendre les circonstances - M. Wleck et la mère de sa fille divorcent lorsqu'elle a cinq ans, et il veille à la formation musicale de sa fille qui deviendra une pianiste émérite, et lui sert de femme de ménage, de gérante d'office en plus d'amener des cachets attrayants!

Clara Schumann et son mari auront huit enfants, mais ceci n'empêchera pas Mme. Schumann de continuer de faire carrière comme pianiste (elle le fera, longtemps après le décès de son mari, sur une période de 60 ans!), et sera d'une influence certaine sur leur jeune protégé Johannes Brahms (qui, spécule-t-on, aurait entretenu une liaison amoureuse avec elle une fois veuve en dépit d'être son cadet par plus d'une décennie).

Ajoutons à une carrière chevronnée un talent certain de compositeur. La formation paternelle de Mme Schumann inclut l'harmonie et la composition, et c'est Félix Mendelssohn qui dirigera à Leipzig la création de son concerto pour piano (avec Clara comme soliste). Son oeuvre musicale est surtout faite de chansons et de pièces pour piano seul, mais compte aussi quelques pièces de musique de chambre.

J'ai choisi de vouis offrir de comparer trois romances pour piano seul de M. et Mme Schumann. Qu'en pemnsez-vous?

De M. Schuimann, j'ai également retenu ses études symphoniques (dans leur premire version) et une suite de pièces pour piano quatre mains (ses portraits d'Orient) - peut-être que M. et Mme Schuimann les ont jouées en tandem en récital privé...

Les quatre pièces fugitives de Mme Schumann complètent le montage.

Bonne écoute!