The music of Robert Schumann

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Prometheus
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The music of Robert Schumann

Post by Prometheus » Sun Feb 21, 2010 3:42 pm

ravel30 mentioned in his recent thread on Berlioz an idea about starting a thread on Robert Schumann but decided against it due to the controversy of the topic. Being only a few months a part of this esteemed group, what is the controversy? The only criticism I have encountered is that he can’t orchestrate.

Schumann would never appear in my top 10, but probably would be in the top 20 or 30. In my collection I have the symphonies (the originals and the Mahler editions), lieder, chamber works, and piano works which I find to be his better compositions.

For those with opinions on Schumann, what pieces do you like or dislike from his output and what is it about him that makes this feeling of disagreement present?

Aside, at the last performance I attended I saw Haochen Zhang, the new Van Cliburn medalist. One of the pieces he played was the Fantasy in C major Op. 17 and it was performed exceptionally. Having free seats in the 5th row on the left side didn’t hurt either. :wink:

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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by Lance » Sun Feb 21, 2010 3:47 pm

I find no controversy with the music of Schumann. In my case, the German master would rank in my Top 10 of most favourite composers. I do happen to love his symphonies, either his originals or those orchestrated by Mahler, his chamber music, songs/cycles, and especially his piano music ... the Fantasiestücke, Op. 12, the Fantasy, the three Sonatas, the Humoreske, the Davidsbündlertänze, the Kreisleriana, his Variations on Beethovens 7th Symphony, etc., et al, and his various concertos. His music is highly original, ear-appealing, complex, and so much more. If I am in the minority concerning Robert Schumann, then I'm not aware of it myself. So, post ahead on Herr Schumann!
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Prometheus
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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by Prometheus » Sun Feb 21, 2010 3:56 pm

Thanks, Lance!

You listed some great piano pieces that I like as well.

The audience noise is unusually loud in this recording, but this is one of my favorite single piano discs of his.

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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by Chalkperson » Sun Feb 21, 2010 5:11 pm

If some of us not agreeing with Jack Kelso is a controversy then that is your answer, personally, I enjoy the Piano and Cello Concerto's and Kreislerana, the rest of his Orchestral and Piano Music leaves me cold, his Chamber Music is third rate at best, I call him Mad Bob, simply because Jack can't seem to reply to any Thread without including the myth that Schumann is one of the greatest Composers of all time, me i'm happy to live my life without 95% of his music...
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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by jbuck919 » Sun Feb 21, 2010 5:13 pm

We will shortly be hearing from a poster who, um, highly values Schumann, which may be the only controversy you'll find here, and it is a friendly controversy. I hope no one has been intimidated into feeling he has to apologize for loving Schumann and ranking him in a personal top ten (what a world we would have come to if that started happening!). Please, discuss away! :)

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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by moldyoldie » Sun Feb 21, 2010 5:26 pm

jbuck919 wrote:I hope no one has been intimidated into feeling he has to apologize for loving Schumann....
Good, 'cuz I've come to love Schumann :), particularly the symphonies and chamber works including solo piano, not so much the concertos. I'm not going to get into a ranking game, however.
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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by barney » Sun Feb 21, 2010 5:58 pm

In my top 20, no doubt. The older I get the more I appreciate him.

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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by Donald Isler » Sun Feb 21, 2010 5:59 pm

He's certainly in my top ten.

And "third rate" chamber music?? I couldn't disagree more! And I'm thinking specificially of his Piano Quintet and the E-flat Piano Quartet. I'll happily listen to "third rate" music of that sort any day!
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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by Donaldopato » Sun Feb 21, 2010 7:13 pm

I waver on Schumann, for the most part I can take or leave his symphonies. Of them all I turn most frequently to the 2nd. Yet can someone with 3 sets of Schumann Symphonies (Szell, Dohnanyi and Chailly) be called a Schumann hater? I guess not. But I do have to say nothing is as dull and tedious as a poor or uncommitted performance of any Schumann Symphony. Yes I know that applies to all music in a sense, but...some composers' music can live through a mediocre performance, the basic brilliance can still shine through. Not so with Schumann. My experience is that it takes a well paced, committed performance from a seasoned veteran to keep the music from sliding into blandness. Thus the reason I turn to Szell and Chailly most often. I have rarely heard the Dohnanyi, the set was picked up at a sale for a dollar or two.

I have never enjoyed any of the concerti, just not top drawer to me.

The chamber music is a mystery to me as I have heard little of it. Some of the piano music is interesting, notably the Fantasy. The rest I have not heard in a long time, and have not missed them!

His oeuvre is a step, a small one, above Brahms' music which is dull no matter how you slice it.
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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by jbuck919 » Sun Feb 21, 2010 7:54 pm

Donaldopato wrote:I waver on Schumann, for the most part I can take or leave his symphonies. Of them all I turn most frequently to the 2nd. Yet can someone with 3 sets of Schumann Symphonies (Szell, Dohnanyi and Chailly) be called a Schumann hater? I guess not. But I do have to say nothing is as dull and tedious as a poor or uncommitted performance of any Schumann Symphony. Yes I know that applies to all music in a sense, but...some composers' music can live through a mediocre performance, the basic brilliance can still shine through. Not so with Schumann. My experience is that it takes a well paced, committed performance from a seasoned veteran to keep the music from sliding into blandness. Thus the reason I turn to Szell and Chailly most often. I have rarely heard the Dohnanyi, the set was picked up at a sale for a dollar or two.

I have never enjoyed any of the concerti, just not top drawer to me.

The chamber music is a mystery to me as I have heard little of it. Some of the piano music is interesting, notably the Fantasy. The rest I have not heard in a long time, and have not missed them!

His oeuvre is a step, a small one, above Brahms' music which is dull no matter how you slice it.
:shock: How could you manage to agree with Jack Kelso on everything except what he gets right? :)

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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by Chalkperson » Sun Feb 21, 2010 8:30 pm

Donaldopato wrote:But I do have to say nothing is as dull and tedious as a poor or uncommitted performance of any Schumann Symphony. Yes I know that applies to all music in a sense, but...some composers' music can live through a mediocre performance, the basic brilliance can still shine through. Not so with Schumann.
You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear... :wink:
His oeuvre is a step, a small one, above Brahms' music which is dull no matter how you slice it.
My feelings exactly, I enjoy the Concertos, the Clarinet Music, The Requiem, the rest is pure dross, IMHO of course...
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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by ravel30 » Sun Feb 21, 2010 9:34 pm

Hi,

Many thanks to Prometheus for beginning this thread. I feel like I have to explain why I wrote controversy. First of all, the word that I chose was probably not the right one and probably an exageration. It is just that I have rarely seen a composer on CMG that had such opposite reactions in people. Some like him a lot and rate him among their favorites. Others think he is overated and only a few of his works are interesting. I am probably wrong on that one but could anyone give me a composer that has such opposite feelings on CMG ?

So what do I think of Schumann ? I think that his piano miniatures are amazing and they sound like nothing else written before (as far as I know). Some of them are full of feelings, emotions an poetry (my personnal favorites) others follows the forms of the past and add to them. And the amazing thing is that some of his best work for the piano were written when he was in his 20's.

Among my favorites: Davidsbündlertänze, Fantasistuck Op.12, Fantasie Op.17, Carnaval, Papillons, Albumblutter, Kinderzenen and Waldzenen.

I know that CMG has many Chopin lovers but for me, I have always prefered the piano music of Schumann.


I find his symphonies to be amazing and underated. His chamber work is full of gems and his songs are among the best in the repertoire. In fact, I found Dichterlieber to be superior to other songs cycles by Schubert.

Schumann, like Berlioz was one of my early favorite when I first became interested in classical music. Like Berlioz, I neglected him over the last few years. A few listening of some of my favorite pieces of his a few days ago reminded me how much I like him and consider him among my top 5 composers.

My 2 cents.

Long life to this wonderful thread.

Matt.

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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by SaulChanukah » Sun Feb 21, 2010 9:49 pm

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Prometheus
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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by Prometheus » Sun Feb 21, 2010 10:18 pm

Thanks to all for sharing their varied opinions.

Earlier I stated Schumann would be within my top 20 or 30, but in thinking of this during the day I realized he would definitely be in the top 20. I haven’t listened to his works in a while and a few members here have reminded me of some of these great pieces.

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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by RebLem » Sun Feb 21, 2010 11:37 pm

I love Schumann; count me in the pro-Schumann faction. But Top 10? No, not quite. Top 20, definitely, but not Top 10. Picking a Top 10 is difficult for me. Picking a Top 9 is easy--Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Dvorak, Strauss, Prokofiev, Shostakovich. For the 10th spot, I have three candidates--Berlioz, Mahler, and Wagner. I like Mahler and Wagner better than Berlioz, but Mahler wrote very little other than symphonies and song cycles, and I'm not sure that that rises to Top 10 quality level. Wagner, similarly, wrote operas and music dramas almost exclusively. So, if I were being objective, I suppose I'd have to go with Berlioz.

The next 10? Well, obviously, Mahler and Wagner have to be in there, then Schubert, Mendelssohn, and Schumann. That's 15. Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, and Bartok would make it 18. The last two? Not sure, but Ravel, Debussy, Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Benjamin Britten, Aaron Copland are all contenders. Maybe we should just skip over 20 and go to 25--I already have 24. The 25th? I'm gonna go with Arthur Honegger.

You may have noticed that Handel is nowhere to be seen in my Top 25. After his Top 4 works--Messiah, the Royal Fireworks Music, the Water Music, and, for me, Dixit Dominus, there's not all that much of greatness in him, to me. Yeah, I hear you saying, but the same could be said of Stravinsky, you putz! Yes, but Stravinsky wrote THE iconic work of the 20th century. Not so sure even Messiah rises to quite that level. If I had to downgrade someone to make room for Handel, it would be Ravel.

What really ticks me off, though, is the fact that while the classical music press is turning cartwheels over the Chopin bicentennial, it seems to be totally ignoring, at least so far, the fact that 2010 is also Schumann's bicentennial year. And yet, as far as I know, no major projects to record his complete works, or to create and market a new integral cycle of his solo piano works from one pianist have been announced. Why?
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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by Werner » Sun Feb 21, 2010 11:58 pm

This thread demonstrates why I can't concern myself with rankings of music and musicians. Hearing an idiomatic Schumann performance such as Adrian Aeschbacher's "Davidsbündlertänze" - which Donald has revived on his KASP label - will thoroughly convince me of it's extraordinary merits. Tomorrow it might be something entirely different, so as far as I'm concerned, numbers mean nothing.

I agree with Matt's opinion on the pieces from Schumann's early flood of genius. The "Waldszenen," fine as it is, dates from a later time but is still worth hearing.

We've seen a range of opinions here regarding Schumann. Much as I respect Chalkie's wide knowledge and erudition, I can't agree with him here. A;though I do see Schumann as one of the three prime composers for the piano - the other two beintg Chopin and Rachmaninov - he does have much to offer in other areas. There is the Piano Concerto, of course, an essential part of the literature. The Piano Quartet and Quintet, already menationed by Donald, are masterpieces. Schumann's Lieder, though far less in quantity than Schubert's, put the two, in my opinion, in the same class, along with Brahms and Strauss. And we've just had the chance to hear the Fourth Symphony on Lance's program. I can't discuss the detailed Mahler orchestration as against the original. but the piece itself comes across wonderfully well in the Chailly performance.
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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by Ken » Mon Feb 22, 2010 2:02 am

That Schumann is my favourite composer should not surprise those of you who know my posting history in these forums. His music is at once highly personal and characteristic, and his complete musical intelligence and contribution to Romanticism both as a composer and as a writer should not be underestimated. However, as much as it is clichée to claim that any major composer's talents are not sufficiently recognized, Schumann today is still not given his due attention; one must only consider the regalia devoted to his contemporary and friend Mendelssohn last year on the event of his own 200. Jubiläum to realize how shy most orchestras and musical organizations are to promote 'Schumann-Events'. Schumann's personal musical heritage in many of the cities in which he lived is so great, but only Düsseldorf and Zwickau seem to be devoting him due attention (please visit http://www.schumann2010.net/ to learn about the activities here in Düsseldorf).

Schumann's most important legacy might not in fact lie in his very unique and idiomatic piano music (he popularized the Romantic miniature), but rather in his Lieder, the quantity of which alone is incredible to consider, especially since he composed a large percentage of this music within the course of a single calendar year.

I will surely be spawning a few related threads this year to honour the composer's 200th birthday.
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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by val » Mon Feb 22, 2010 5:38 am

To me, and this a question of personal taste, Schumann's piano music is the best, with Debussy, composed after Beethoven.
Carnaval, Fantasiestücke opus 12, Etudes Symphoniques, First Sonata, Kreisleriana (his absolute masterpiece), Fantasia, Humoresque, Nachtstücke, Waldszenen, Gesänge der Fruhe, are works of extraordinary beauty, with all their sometimes dark imagination and contrasts. With a single motif Schumann creates an atmosphere, a musical poem. Sometimes, I feel that the motif itself is more interesting than it's developments - for example, the theme of the Romanze in the 4th Symphony.

He was, with Berlioz, the great Romantic composer.

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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by Ricordanza » Mon Feb 22, 2010 6:43 am

RebLem wrote:IWhat really ticks me off, though, is the fact that while the classical music press is turning cartwheels over the Chopin bicentennial, it seems to be totally ignoring, at least so far, the fact that 2010 is also Schumann's bicentennial year. And yet, as far as I know, no major projects to record his complete works, or to create and market a new integral cycle of his solo piano works from one pianist have been announced. Why?
Although you can count me among the Schumann fans, do we really need a recording of his complete piano works? Apart from some die-hard collectors, who is going to buy it when there are so many outstanding recordings available of the dozen or so great works already mentioned on this thread (the only omission I noticed is the Toccata, Op. 7)?

I do note that Emanuel Ax, in his February 8th Philadelphia recital (see Concert Reviews) devoted his program to both Chopin and Schumann.

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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by Chalkperson » Mon Feb 22, 2010 11:12 am

Werner wrote:We've seen a range of opinions here regarding Schumann. Much as I respect Chalkie's wide knowledge and erudition, I can't agree with him here. A;though I do see Schumann as one of the three prime composers for the piano - the other two beintg Chopin and Rachmaninov - he does have much to offer in other areas.
I also find my opinion strange, quite why I have never warmed to Schumann I will never know, it is interesting that even though I own a lot of his piano Music (via Complete Sets by Pianists or purchased seperately) I just fail to figure out what the fuss is all about, his Chamber Music too leaves me cold, especialy as I love Piano and Chamber Music, the fact that I feel exactly the same way about Brahms makes me think that I just don't much care for those who filled the gap between Beethoven and Shostakovich (is this what is termed Romantic Music)...I enjoy a number of Composers from that era but prefer the relatively unknown ones...it took me a while to enjoy Chopin and Mendelssohn too, Liszt's Orchestral music is also not a favourite of mine, yet, I enjoy the Concertos by all these Composers, but, I don't listen to that much Orchestral music anyway as I much prefer Concertos...my rhetoric may be a little strong or even OTT, but, the Thread asks about controversy, so i'm totally happy to provide that element...
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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by Jack Kelso » Mon Feb 22, 2010 11:54 am

John Daverio, the great musicologist and Schumann scholar, got it right when he wrote that with Schumann it is impossible to designate one "period" or "genre" which would represent the quintessential Schumann (or Mozart or Beethoven, for that matter). The late works are only different, not of lesser value than the early or middle periods.

Of course the art-songs are (with Schubert) of the finest creations, the chamber works (incl. the string quartets) among the most important since Beethoven, the four symphonies among the greatest and most inspired of the 19th-century, the piano music and dramatic choral works, mass and requiem(s) are all of such a high-minded artistic niveau that true Schumann fans cannot deny him a place in the highest regions of musical creation. Would I be considered a "Brahms-fan" if I included HIM only in my "top 20"...?!

Orchestration is no longer an issue with the Schumann symphonic canon. We have gone over this time and time again, and Daverio, Herreweghe, Müller-Schott, Mario Venzago, Martin Demmler and many other performers and scholars no longer believe that old saw of "poor orchestrator". When one hears what imaginative, thoughtful and sensitive conductors have done with these works, then one can easily agree with John Daverio that in most cases this is the sound that Schumann wanted.

When I read the blogs on J.S. Bach and Chopin, Schubert and Haydn I thought: gosh, what a wealth of loving listener appreciation! I wonder if Schumann.....?!

We once had a thread that dealt with "which composer is the most difficult 'to get'?" From the many responses from various corners here in the recent past it is no longer difficult to guess the answer. Franz Liszt thought so. Clara thought so as well. Daverio agreed.

Now a question to all: which single Schumann work do you find the most challenging/difficult to enjoy/understand? This should be very interesting.

Tschüß,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by maestrob » Mon Feb 22, 2010 12:00 pm

Chalkperson wrote:
Werner wrote:We've seen a range of opinions here regarding Schumann. Much as I respect Chalkie's wide knowledge and erudition, I can't agree with him here. A;though I do see Schumann as one of the three prime composers for the piano - the other two beintg Chopin and Rachmaninov - he does have much to offer in other areas.
I also find my opinion strange, quite why I have never warmed to Schumann I will never know, it is interesting that even though I own a lot of his piano Music (via Complete Sets by Pianists or purchased seperately) I just fail to figure out what the fuss is all about, his Chamber Music too leaves me cold, especialy as I love Piano and Chamber Music, the fact that I feel exactly the same way about Brahms makes me think that I just don't much care for those who filled the gap between Beethoven and Shostakovich (is this what is termed Romantic Music)...I enjoy a number of Composers from that era but prefer the relatively unknown ones...it took me a while to enjoy Chopin and Mendelssohn too, Liszt's Orchestral music is also not a favourite of mine, yet, I enjoy the Concertos by all these Composers, but, I don't listen to that much Orchestral music anyway as I much prefer Concertos...my rhetoric may be a little strong or even OTT, but, the Thread asks about controversy, so i'm totally happy to provide that element...
Chalk:

Again, we find ourselves almost in agreement on Schumann. While I enjoy his Symphonies, the Piano Concerto and the Piano Quintet, much of Schumann's oeuvre leaves me wondering what the fuss is all about.

That said, the above named works are indeed great music. Perhaps therein lies the controversy.

OTOH, I find Brahms consistently fulfilling in nearly all his repertoire. Superior stuff throughout the spectrum.

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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by Fergus » Mon Feb 22, 2010 12:07 pm

I find this thread interesting because I came late to Schumann's work. I have two different sets of his symphonic cycles on my shelf, a third which I am listening to and a fourth that is bought, but awaiting investigation....so I am still on a steep learning curve.

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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by Ken » Mon Feb 22, 2010 4:19 pm

Jack Kelso wrote: Now a question to all: which single Schumann work do you find the most challenging/difficult to enjoy/understand? This should be very interesting.

Tschüß,
Jack
I possibly the F minor Sonata, 'Concert sans orchestre', the most challenging of his works. It seems to run tangentially to anything he had composed up to this point as well as the remainder of his piano (not to mention concert) music; a very multifaceted work whose character I can never seem to pin down.

Otherwise I'm working on the 'Requiem für Mignon' and the Mass, which, though full of moments of delightful orchestration and choral texture, don't seem to have the integrative quality of his other choral works.
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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by ravel30 » Mon Feb 22, 2010 10:21 pm

Jack Kelso,

As much as I like Schumann, there are still a lot of his work that I don't know. But from the one that I know, I must say that it is taking me a while to appreciate some of his piano sonatas. It is only recently that I start to understand his second (after hearing Martha Argerich play it. Wow!). On the orchestral side, I would mention his 4th symphony. For so long, I only listened to his first three an once in a while his 4th and nothing else. But now, with time I start to see something very special in his 4th.

To all

One of my favorite orchestral piece by Schumann is one that was not mentionned here so far. And in fact, I have rarely saw that piece mentionned at all on CMG (the last I remember seeing it mentionned was when I mentionned it in one of my frist thread.) It is his Introduction and Allegro appassionato for Piano and Orchestra in G major, Op. 92. Always found that piece amazingly beautiful, sad and happiness at the same time.

Anyone else here enjoy that piece ?

Matt.

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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by barney » Tue Feb 23, 2010 12:39 am

Hard to say what my favourite Schumann might be.

The Op 17 Fantasy would be up there, and Carnaval and Kinderszenen and Dichterliebe. Haven't listened to the symphonies in years.

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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by Jack Kelso » Tue Feb 23, 2010 4:52 am

ravel30 wrote:Jack Kelso,

As much as I like Schumann, there are still a lot of his work that I don't know. But from the one that I know, I must say that it is taking me a while to appreciate some of his piano sonatas. It is only recently that I start to understand his second (after hearing Martha Argerich play it. Wow!). On the orchestral side, I would mention his 4th symphony. For so long, I only listened to his first three an once in a while his 4th and nothing else. But now, with time I start to see something very special in his 4th.

To all

One of my favorite orchestral piece by Schumann is one that was not mentionned here so far. And in fact, I have rarely saw that piece mentionned at all on CMG (the last I remember seeing it mentionned was when I mentionned it in one of my frist thread.) It is his Introduction and Allegro appassionato for Piano and Orchestra in G major, Op. 92. Always found that piece amazingly beautiful, sad and happiness at the same time.

Anyone else here enjoy that piece ?

Matt.
Yes, the opus 92 is very beautiful....but not top-drawer Schumann. Its impact is rather tempered by Mendelssohn influence, which isn't bad....just softens the usual Schumann expressive power a bit.

Schumann scholars all seem to agree on one point: whoever wishes to understand (and love!) Schumann's works deeply must dedicate a great deal of time and effort. It is not exactly easy listening to be confronted by such dissonances, syncopations and harmonic and rhythmic intensity which pervade works like the "Manfred" and "Faust" music, the D Minor Trio, the Second Violin Sonata, Third String Quartet, etc.

Some people appreciate Brahms more, others Schumann. Still others don't care much for either. Obviously, the more listening effort I invest in a composer the more joy I get out of his/her music. Daverio points out that one large problem for many listeners is that they hear in Beethoven more the dramatist, in Schubert more the lyricist and Schumann....well, his music develops a web consisting of dramatic lyricism and melodic drama. He believes this combination might be a stumbling block for some listeners, not used to this unique blend.

Tschüß,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

Jack Kelso
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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by Jack Kelso » Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:12 am

For those of you who are wondering why all those Chopin programs on t.v. and radio and little on Schumann, be patient. Schumann hasn't celebrated his 200th birthday yet. So wait until 8 June and things will get moving. The Germans (at least) are very cautious about celebrating too soon.

Tschüß,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by Chalkperson » Tue Feb 23, 2010 12:23 pm

Jack Kelso wrote:For those of you who are wondering why all those Chopin programs on t.v. and radio and little on Schumann, be patient. Schumann hasn't celebrated his 200th birthday yet. So wait until 8 June and things will get moving. The Germans (at least) are very cautious about celebrating too soon.

Tschüß,
Jack
I shall be turning my Radio off with a Ceremony that is due to take place on 6/7/10...looks like i'll miss Mad Bob's Radio Blitz... :mrgreen:
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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by ContrapunctusIX » Tue Feb 23, 2010 1:38 pm

maestrob wrote:
Chalk:

Again, we find ourselves almost in agreement on Schumann. While I enjoy his Symphonies, the Piano Concerto and the Piano Quintet, much of Schumann's oeuvre leaves me wondering what the fuss is all about.

That said, the above named works are indeed great music. Perhaps therein lies the controversy.

OTOH, I find Brahms consistently fulfilling in nearly all his repertoire. Superior stuff throughout the spectrum.
I completely agree with maestrob. I certainly don't find Schumann to be a bad composer; I just think his oeuvre is of highly variable quality. What I like of his (Piano Quintet, Piano Concerto, Cello Concerto, Violin Sonatas, several of the string quartets and piano trios) I like a lot. But I find a lot of his piano miniatures to be rambling and somewhat thrown together, not to mention intermittently inspired. The same applies for his symphonies, which always seem "tacked together" in terms of construction, regardless of the conductor's efforts. He's a mercurial composer, one who's hard to pin down - and I'd imagine this is part of the reason I don't like everything he wrote.

I also don't get the comparisons with Brahms. There is no comparison. By this I mean, Schumann was the elder yet more progressive of the two, but his work was sometimes lacking from a technical standpoint. Brahms was an arch-conservative who backtracked to the stricter forms of the late-18th/early-19th century, but mastered all basic aspects of composition to the fullest: harmony, rhythm, counterpoint, development. They are totally different animals, even if they were close friends.

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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by karlhenning » Tue Feb 23, 2010 2:07 pm

Very often good, occasionally great.

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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by Jack Kelso » Tue Feb 23, 2010 2:37 pm

ContrapunctusIX wrote:
maestrob wrote:
Chalk:

Again, we find ourselves almost in agreement on Schumann. While I enjoy his Symphonies, the Piano Concerto and the Piano Quintet, much of Schumann's oeuvre leaves me wondering what the fuss is all about.

That said, the above named works are indeed great music. Perhaps therein lies the controversy.

OTOH, I find Brahms consistently fulfilling in nearly all his repertoire. Superior stuff throughout the spectrum.
I completely agree with maestrob. I certainly don't find Schumann to be a bad composer; I just think his oeuvre is of highly variable quality. What I like of his (Piano Quintet, Piano Concerto, Cello Concerto, Violin Sonatas, several of the string quartets and piano trios) I like a lot. But I find a lot of his piano miniatures to be rambling and somewhat thrown together, not to mention intermittently inspired. The same applies for his symphonies, which always seem "tacked together" in terms of construction, regardless of the conductor's efforts. He's a mercurial composer, one who's hard to pin down - and I'd imagine this is part of the reason I don't like everything he wrote.

I also don't get the comparisons with Brahms. There is no comparison. By this I mean, Schumann was the elder yet more progressive of the two, but his work was sometimes lacking from a technical standpoint. Brahms was an arch-conservative who backtracked to the stricter forms of the late-18th/early-19th century, but mastered all basic aspects of composition to the fullest: harmony, rhythm, counterpoint, development. They are totally different animals, even if they were close friends.
Comparisons with Brahms are natural and necessary for a profound understanding of BOTH composers. After all, "Brahms hat den Schumann-Stil angenommen" (Brahms adopted the Schumann style). But, of course, Brahms found his own voice in it.

Andras Schiff (and so many other professional composers and/or performers) praises Schumann's entire output saying, "Everything by Schumann is wonderful!".

I've never read from a musicologist that those perfect piano miniatures were "rambling". Maybe you need a better recording!

I find Brahms' chamber music and concerti, which contain many beautiful passages, technically very astute...and often inspired. Yet Schumann's music overall, especially the "literary operas" ("Das Paradies und die Peri", "Genoveva", "Manfred", "Faust") dwell on a plateau that is beyond the spiritual conscienceness of his contemporaries----Wagner and Brahms included.

I must disagree a little, however, with my friend, Ken. Schumann's art-songs are as important to his overall output as Beethoven's piano sonatas are to the Bonn Master; but we must be careful not to commit a "Grieg-ism" and proclaim Schumann as primarily a song-composer, any more than Mendelssohn or Brahms were. Schumann's chamber music, solo piano works, symphonies and---as John Daverio calls them, "literary operas"---probe far deeper into the human psyche than even "Die Dichterliebe", which has been called "the greatest song-cycle of the 19th-century".

Tschüß,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by Chalkperson » Tue Feb 23, 2010 2:59 pm

Jack Kelso wrote:I've never read from a musicologist that those perfect piano miniatures were "rambling". Maybe you need a better recording!
Jack, it's someone's opinion, and, their choice of words, since when did CMG have a rule that we can only use adjectives that are approved by a Musicologist, not everybody shares your view on Mad Bob, can't you just accept that... :roll:
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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by Werner » Tue Feb 23, 2010 7:33 pm

................but I have to inject an argument there, Chalkie - my opinion, for what it's worth here, - but Mad Bob does seem unfair when applied to a Schumann. Yes, we know, that's where he ended up, but that's not what marks his life's work. Flair, imagination, fantasy, whether it strikes you or not, those are characteristics not given to many sane people but they chracterize Schumann's oeuvre. That doesn't mean it has to strike everyone that way, but.............
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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by DavidRoss » Tue Feb 23, 2010 8:03 pm

Chalkperson wrote: Jack, it's someone's opinion, and, their choice of words, since when did CMG have a rule that we can only use adjectives that are approved by a Musicologist, not everybody shares your view on Mad Bob, can't you just accept that... :roll:
Mad Bob? Is that any way to refer to the Barry Manilow of his generation?
"Most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives." ~Leo Tolstoy

"It is the highest form of self-respect to admit our errors and mistakes and make amends for them. To make a mistake is only an error in judgment, but to adhere to it when it is discovered shows infirmity of character." ~Dale Turner

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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by ravel30 » Tue Feb 23, 2010 8:43 pm

Am I the only one who truly enjoy the piece Papillons Op.2 ? What an amazing piece for a 22 years old. Very imaginative, catchy, entertaining and deep :D . Any favorite interpretation ?

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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by Chalkperson » Tue Feb 23, 2010 8:43 pm

I just got sick to death of Jack's never ending injection of Schumann into every Thread possible, hence Mad Bob...I have no problem dropping it if it offends people as much as his constant attempts to Deify Robert Schumann does me... :mrgreen:
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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by Chalkperson » Tue Feb 23, 2010 8:44 pm

ravel30 wrote:Am I the only one who truly enjoy the piece Papillons Op.2 ? What an amazing piece for a 22 years old. Very imaginative, catchy, entertaining and deep :D . Any favorite interpretation ?
It's a great Movie... :wink:
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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by ravel30 » Tue Feb 23, 2010 8:56 pm

Chalkperson wrote:
ravel30 wrote:Am I the only one who truly enjoy the piece Papillons Op.2 ? What an amazing piece for a 22 years old. Very imaginative, catchy, entertaining and deep :D . Any favorite interpretation ?
It's a great Movie... :wink:
:lol: . It sure is. I totally agree with that.

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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by Prometheus » Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:59 pm

ravel30 wrote:Am I the only one who truly enjoy the piece Papillons Op.2 ? What an amazing piece for a 22 years old. Very imaginative, catchy, entertaining and deep :D . Any favorite interpretation ?
Papillons is definitely one of my favorite piano pieces by Schumann. The Richter performance in the disc I included above would most likely be my favorite performance.

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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by Chalkperson » Wed Feb 24, 2010 12:53 am

Prometheus wrote:
ravel30 wrote:Am I the only one who truly enjoy the piece Papillons Op.2 ? What an amazing piece for a 22 years old. Very imaginative, catchy, entertaining and deep :D . Any favorite interpretation ?
Papillons is definitely one of my favorite piano pieces by Schumann. The Richter performance in the disc I included above would most likely be my favorite performance.
Yeah, I know, but even Richter can't make me appreciate Schumann's piano music, Lord knows I have tried and tried...same with Brahm's piano music...sorry folks...
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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by Ken » Wed Feb 24, 2010 2:40 am

Jack Kelso wrote: I must disagree a little, however, with my friend, Ken. Schumann's art-songs are as important to his overall output as Beethoven's piano sonatas are to the Bonn Master; but we must be careful not to commit a "Grieg-ism" and proclaim Schumann as primarily a song-composer, any more than Mendelssohn or Brahms were."

Tschüß,
Jack
Hm, I didn't want to give this impression; in fact, one of the things that I find most appealing and extraordinary about the composer is the roundedness of his output; there is hardly a genre or style that he did not dapple with, let alone leave a resounding and influential mark on. Certainly his Lied phase only comprises a short but significant period of his career.
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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Feb 24, 2010 8:58 am

Chalkperson wrote:I just got sick to death of Jack's never ending injection of Schumann into every Thread possible, hence Mad Bob...I have no problem dropping it if it offends people as much as his constant attempts to Deify Robert Schumann does me... :mrgreen:
Chalkie, methinks you got stuck in a harbinger.

If you read some of the recent blogs on Bach, Haydn, Schubert and Chopin, you will see that what I have written about Schumann certainly is not any more fantastic. Many Brahmsians here have made similar claims for their man. Where were you then? :roll:

Those recent threads on the above-mentioned composers are filled with praise, love, tolerance and enthusiasm. Of course---for they also were great. But when ungrounded comments of a negative sort appear here, it tells us far more about Schumann's audience than it does about his music.

Let's not make extreme negative comments or tasteless name-calling in reference to the Zwickau Master a habit here. And I do not "inject" his name whenever possible into any thread. If you would only stop to think for a moment how many forms and varied directions his music takes, you might begin to recognize that it is often impossible NOT to bring him into a particular thread.

Regarding musicology: others also have quoted experts, performing musicians and composers on other composers to re-enforce their standpoints---whether positive or negative. Naturally, this is primarily a forum for opinions---both from members and mainstream musicology. If you feel personally estranged from a composer or his/her works, no one is forcing you to read (of be influenced by) the diverse opinions, analyses or historical perspectives offered here.

Ken, RebLem, myself and others have been attempting to offer (hopefully!) enlightening information which could assist others in gaining a greater appreciation of the man who, this year, celebrates his 200th birthday. Hopefully, new recordings will soon be released of many of his STILL most neglected masterpieces.

Let's all be fair.

Tschüß,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by Ken » Wed Feb 24, 2010 9:33 am

^ I would love to see a new recording of his neglected Düsseldorf-era voice and orchestra works, 'Der Könnigssohn', 'Rheinweinlied', and 'Neujahrslied', which as far as I know do not exist on CD. The latter two I had the pleasure of hearing here in Düsseldorf on New Year's Day and was very impressed. The former work is very highly thought of by Schumann scholars, including Daverio.
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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by Chalkperson » Wed Feb 24, 2010 10:40 am

Jack Kelso wrote:
Chalkperson wrote:Many Brahmsians here have made similar claims for their man. Where were you then? :roll: on be released of many of his STILL most neglected masterpieces.

Tschüß,
Jack
When I first posted here I pointed out numerous times my opinion on Brahms and have always done so, check my posts before accusing me of something in the future, please...I always said the Morton Feldman is much more innovative and talented, you can deny it but you do waffle on about Schumann and you certainly never stop defending him, I feel the same way about Morty, but, I only bring his name up occasionally whereas you never let an opertunity slip by without injecting him into every Thread...I will happily drop my nickname for him , but, I am not going to ask you to cut back on your references because I know that you are incapable of that, the musicologists comment was the last straw (for me personally) as I have never seen anybody resort to such a lame analogy, if you had not posted that particular reference I would not have commented again in this Thread, and will not comment after this post, as I have repeatedly posted I do keep trying to enjoy him but to no avail...

PS I would never read a Composer Blog, no matter who the Composer is, obviously they are going to wax lyrically about their favourite so the reference is pointless...
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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by karlhenning » Wed Feb 24, 2010 11:23 am

Chalkperson wrote:PS I would never read a Composer Blog, no matter who the Composer is, obviously they are going to wax lyrically about their favourite so the reference is pointless...
I'm crying, here . . . .

; )

Cheers,
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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by DavidRoss » Wed Feb 24, 2010 11:24 am

Chalkperson wrote:I just got sick to death of Jack's never ending injection of Schumann into every Thread possible, hence Mad Bob...I have no problem dropping it if it offends people as much as his constant attempts to Deify Robert Schumann does me... :mrgreen:
Not remotely close, Chalkie. You are consistently good humored and entertaining, occasionally enlightening. None but a humorless crank would take offense.
"Most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives." ~Leo Tolstoy

"It is the highest form of self-respect to admit our errors and mistakes and make amends for them. To make a mistake is only an error in judgment, but to adhere to it when it is discovered shows infirmity of character." ~Dale Turner

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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by maestrob » Wed Feb 24, 2010 11:25 am

Prometheus wrote:
ravel30 wrote:Am I the only one who truly enjoy the piece Papillons Op.2 ? What an amazing piece for a 22 years old. Very imaginative, catchy, entertaining and deep :D . Any favorite interpretation ?
Papillons is definitely one of my favorite piano pieces by Schumann. The Richter performance in the disc I included above would most likely be my favorite performance.
Papillons, Kinderszenen and Carnaval are all masterpieces for the piano, in my book.

I grew up with Guiomar Novaes in that repertoire, yet Richter's performance is at least of equal stature. Nelson Friere in his recent release, also does them justice:

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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by DavidRoss » Wed Feb 24, 2010 11:48 am

maestrob wrote:Papillons, Kinderszenen and Carnaval are all masterpieces for the piano, in my book. [...] Nelson Friere in his recent release, also does them justice
You just reminded me of Carnaval's charms so I popped in Rubinstein's recording and it is a delightful bon-bon, indeed. I also like Freire and just might take a flyer on the disc you recommend...thanks!
"Most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives." ~Leo Tolstoy

"It is the highest form of self-respect to admit our errors and mistakes and make amends for them. To make a mistake is only an error in judgment, but to adhere to it when it is discovered shows infirmity of character." ~Dale Turner

"Anyone who doesn't take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either." ~Albert Einstein
"Truth is incontrovertible; malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it; but, in the end, there it is." ~Winston Churchill

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Re: The music of Robert Schumann

Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Feb 24, 2010 12:39 pm

DavidRoss wrote:
Chalkperson wrote:I just got sick to death of Jack's never ending injection of Schumann into every Thread possible, hence Mad Bob...I have no problem dropping it if it offends people as much as his constant attempts to Deify Robert Schumann does me... :mrgreen:
Not remotely close, Chalkie. You are consistently good humored and entertaining, occasionally enlightening. None but a humorless crank would take offense.
I'm not a crank, David. But Chalkie once posted that the mention of Schumann's Piano Concerto with those of "Beethoven and Brahms" was out of place. Does anyone subscribe to that?!

If you see that as "humor" then I'm with you on that!

Remember that Brahms regarded himself as the successor to Schumann, who always remained his ideal.

Yes, Chalkie is "good-humored and entertaining", but does he wish to be ONLY that....?! :wink:

Tschüß,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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