Schumann – Piano Concerto in A minor | Discovering Masterpieces of Classical Music

An informative and entertaining audio-visual concert at the Gewandhaus Leipzig (1997) with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and the piano Martha Argerich conducted by Riccardo Chailly and hosted by Wulf Konold who analyzes the composer Robert Schumann’s most famous works.

Robert Schumann – Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in A minor, Op. 54
6:12 I. Allegro affettuoso
15:20 II. Intermezzo, Andantino grazioso
21:45 III. Allegro vivace

Robert Schumann as he saw himself: he was born in Zwickau in Saxony in 1810, the son of a book dealer. Schumann was equally gifted both as a musician and as a man of letters, and it was in the latter capacity 20 that he invented two imaginary figures, fictional doppelgängers, in whom he could live out his own contradictory and internally divided natura. There were times when he felt related to the Beethovenian figure of Florestan, a bellicose alter ego, who, for ever spoiling for a fight, was fired by his belief in progress and whom Schumann himself described as “one of those rare musical people who seem to anticipate all that is new; what appears strange to them at one moment is no langer so by the next; and what was unusual becomes theirs within an instant.” But there were other, more reflective times when Schumann felt closer to the introverted Eusebius, who “traces flower after flower; he is slower an the uptake but more certain of his findings; he enjoys life more rarely, hut when he does so, it is more slowly and at greater length; his studies are also more strict and his execution at the piano more thoughtful, while also more delicate and mechanically more perfectthan that of Florestan.”

This ill-matched couple was soon leading a carefree life of its own in the columns of the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, of which Schumann was editor-in-chief. Sometimes he would use one of the two pseudonyms when contributing his articles and reviews, while an other occasions it would be the other. But the masquerade went even further than this, for same of his early piano pieces were published as the work of “Florestan and Eusebius”. Indeed, Schumann even gathered around the two of them a powerful artistic community of like-minded musicians and enthusiasts that reflected Friedrich Schlegel’s demand – entirely typical of its age —that “like the merchants of the Middle Ages, the artists of today should come together to form a league and to a certain extent protect each other against the Philistines.” Schumann, too, was fired by a similar loathing of all petty middle-class values and of all narrow-mindedness and hostility to art when he founded the Davidsbund (League of David) in Leipzig. But, as he himself conceded, it was an entirely secret society that “existed only in the head of its founder”. Although its membership was made up of teachers,friends, companions and idols enjoying varying degrees of intimacy, rather than mere literary phantoms, these confederates lived for the most part in Schumann’s imagination, concealed behind the aliases and nicknames that he himseif had thought up. And when, of an evening, Schumann sat in his local hostelry in Leipzig, “Zum Arabischen Coffe Baum”, surrounded by clouds of cigarette smoke and drunk on Bavarian beer, reality merged with reveries of the glorious and intrepid Davidsbund.

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