Robert Schumann, the man, the composer and the critic

Robert Schumann, the man, the composer and the critic.

Robert Schumann was born on June 8th of 1810.  He is one of the most famous German composers of the Romantic era.

When you listen to Schumann’s work, you can feel the passion, the drama and the joy of Robert Schumann.

His Lieder are beautiful. One of a kind! Let’s not forget his works for Piano and Orchestra, they are absolutely exquisite.

And most of all,  we also remember Robert Schumann because of famous marriage to the pianist and also composer Clara Wieck.

THE MAN:

Robert Schumann began his Piano and music lessons at the very early age of seven and later he started to compose at that age.   But he did not only receive music lessons but he also was cultivated of literature, because his father was Arthur Schumann, a bookseller and novelist.

At age 14, Schumann wrote an essay about music and at the same time he contributed to a volume, edited by his father Arthur, titled “Portrait of Famous Men”.

Also, he began to read he works of the very famous German Poet-philosophers Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller as well as the Greek tragedies and Lord Byron. Let’s mention that Jean Paul Friedrich Richter, or just simply Jean Paul, was the most powerful literary inspiration for Robert Schumann.

Schumann started to be interested in Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Schubert’s music.

After his father’s dead, Schumann went to Leipzig to study law but in 1830 he heard the Italian Violinist and composer Niccolò  Paganini play in Frankfurt.

And Schumann wrote to his mother:

“My whole life has been a struggle between Poetry and Prose, or call it Music and Law.”

Later, Schumann returned to Leipzig to study Piano again, with his Piano Teacher and mentor, Friederich Wieck (who later Schumann married Friederich Wieck’s daughter, Clara, against Friederich Wieck’s wishes).

During his studies with Wieck, Schumann permanently injured his right hand.  Schumann abandoned ideas of a Piano concert career and devoted himself instead to composition.

THE COMPOSER, MUSIC AND LITERATURE:

The fusion of literary ideas with musical ones – known as program music  – may be said to have first taken shape in Papillons, Op. 2 (Butterflies), a musical portrayal of events in Jean Paul’s novel “Die Flegeljahre”.

DIE NEUE ZEITSCHRIFT FÜR MUSIK (New Journal for Music).

Robert Schumann published his literary works and critical writings in this journal.

Schumann campaigned to revive interest in major composers of the past, including Mozart, Weber and Beethoven, while he also promoted the work of some contemporary composers, including Chopin, about whom Schumann famously wrote, “Hats off, Gentlemen! A genius!”,  and Hector Berlioz, whom he praised for creating music of substance.

Schumann met and promoted Felix Mendelssohn and he also called the then-unknown Johannes Brahms a genius.

But Schumann disliked Wagner and Liszt.

 

THE MUSIC.

These a list of some of my favorites of the many Piano works of Robert Schumann:

Op. 1, Variations on the name “Abegg”

Op. 2, Papillons

Op. 3, Etudes After Paganini Caprices

Op. 5, Impromptus (on a Theme by Clara Wieck)

Op. 9, Carnaval

Op. 10, 6 Concert Studies on Caprices by Paganini

OP. 12, Fantasiestücke (Fantasy Pieces)

Op. 13, Symphonic Studies (Études symphoniques)

Op. 22, Piano Sonata No. 2 in G-minor

 

Now this is the list of my favorites of the Lieder works of Robert Schumann:

Op. 33,  6 Lieder (part songs for men’s voices with piano ad lib)

Op. 34,  4 Duets (soprano and tenor with piano)

Op. 37,  Gedichte aus “Liebesfrühling” (12 songs, of which numbers 2, 4 and 11 are by Clara Schumann)

Op. 74, Spanisches Liederspiel (3 songs, 5 duets, 2 quartets)

Op. 101, Minnespiel (4 songs, 2 duets, 2 quartets)

Op. 103, Mädchenlieder (2 women’s voices and piano)

Op. 106, Declamation with piano, “Schön Hedwig”.

Op. 117, 4 Husarenlieder

OP. 119.  3 Gedichte

Op. 122, Declamation with piano: “Ballade vom Heideknaben” and “Die Flüchlinge”

Op. 127, 5 Lieder und Gesänge

Op. 135, Gedichte der Königin Maria Stuart

Op. 138, Spanische Liebeslieder

My Favorite symphonies and Orchestral works of Robert Schumann:

Symphony No. 1

Symphony No. 2

Symphony No. 3 and

Symphony No. 4

Op. 100, The Bride of Messina overture

Op. 128, Julius Caesar overture

Op. 136, Hermann und Dorothea overture

 

My favorite solo instruments with orchestra works by Robert Schumann:

Op. 54, Piano concerto in A minor

Op. 86, Konzertstück for Four Horns and Orchestra

Op. 129, Cello Concerto in A minor

Op. 131, Fantasy in C for Violin and Orchestra

My favorite chamber music works by Robert Schumann:

Op. 41,  Three String Quartets  in A minor, F and A

Op. 47, Piano Quartet in E Flat

Op. 70,  Adagio and Allegro for Horn and Piano

OP. 73, Fantasy Pieces for Clarinet and Piano

Op. 94, Three Romances for Oboe and piano

Op. 105, Violin Sonata No 1 in A minor

Op. 121, Violin Sonata No 2 in D minor

 

My Favorite dramatic and choral works by Robert Schumann:

Op. 50,  Das Paradies und die Peri, oratorio

Op. 71, Adventlied for soprano, chorus and orchestra

Opa. 98, Songs from Wilhelm Meister

OP. 112, Der Rose Pilgerfahrt oratorio

Op. 115, Overture and incidental music, Manfred

Op. 147, Missa Sacra

Op. 148, Requiem

And the Opera “Genoveva”.

 

Robert Schumann had a very interesting but also very intense life.  He had mental problems and he tried to commit suicide.  Schumann was confined to a mental institution.

Robert Schumann died on July 29th of 1856.

Composer Sir Edward Elgar called Schumann “my ideal.”

One funny interesting trivia:  Schumann has not often been confused with Austrian composer Franz Schubert, but one well-known example occurred in 1956, when East Germany issued a pair of postage stamps featuring Schumann’s picture against an open score that featured Schubert’s music. The stamps were soon replaced by a pair featuring music written by Schumann.   (Wikipedia Info.)

Happy Birthday Robert Schumann!  Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum Geburtstag Robert Schumann!

Jacqueline

 

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