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Introducing Robert Schumann

feat. the Master himself

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This week's Collection is devoted to the music of Robert Schumann.

Born in 1810, Schumann was one of the nineteenth century's greatest composers. He was also one of the most influential music critics of his age, and in fact it's him we have to thank for bringing to public attention a young, unknown composer called Johannes Brahms. Before diving in, we'd like to draw your attention to the fact that we've very purposefully programmed our five works in the order in which they were written. This isn't something we always do with our composers focuses, but it's worth doing so here because you'll notice that the five composition years are bunched into two very short timeframes: so the Piano Quintet and Paradise and the Peri were composed in 1842 and 1843 respectively; then the Cello Concerto in 1850, the Fourth Symphony in 1851 (although its first draft was completed in 1841), and the Ghost Variations in 1854. The reason for this is that Schumann combined being one of the Romantic Era's greatest composers with also being one of its most troubled. In fact it was a proper cocktail of mental instability. For starters there was his lifelong battle with what was probably bipolar disorder. Then he also contracted syphilis, which was what ultimately led to insanity and - in 1856 - death. As a result, much of his best music was composed during short, manic bursts between bouts of depression and insanity. This also means that if you look at his compositional output as a whole, it's not a clean sweep of brilliance. However what was brilliant, really was very, very brilliant.

Curation: Charlotte Gardner, Natascha Klotschkoff

Speaker: Charlotte Gardner

Visual Art: Philipp Nicolai Hertel

  • Introducing Robert Schumann

  • An introduction to Schumann — Piano Quintet in E flat major op. 44

  • Piano Quintet in E flat major op. 44 Preview Only

    Robert Schumann

    Quatuor Schumann, Gyula Stuller2008
  • An introduction to Schumann — Das Paradies und die Peri op. 50

  • Das Paradies und die Peri op. 50 Preview Only

    Robert Schumann

    Sir Simon Rattle, London Symphony Orchestra, Sally Matthews, Mark Padmore, Kate Royal, Bernarda Fink, Andrew Staples, Florian Boesch, Simon Halsey, London Symphony Chorus2015
  • An introduction to Schumann — Cello Concerto in a minor op. 129

  • Cello Concerto in a minor op. 129 Preview Only

    Robert Schumann

    Nicolas Altstaedt, Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz, Alexander Joel2008
  • An introduction to Schumann — Symphony No. 4 in d minor op. 120

  • Symphony No. 4 in d minor op. 120 Preview Only

    Robert Schumann

    San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Michael Tilson Thomas2016
  • An introduction to Schumann — Thema mit Variationen

  • Thema mit Variationen Preview Only

    Robert Schumann

    Piotr Anderszewski2015; 2016