Robert Schumann (1810-1856)

Episodes

SeriesEpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
201001A Law Unto Himself20100607
201002Matters Of The Heart2010060820120103Donald Macleod in 'Matters of the Heart' looks into Schumann's nerve-racking love life and the surreal story of his journey to become a pianist.
201003In Sickness And Health20100609Donald Macleod in 'In Sickness and in Health' introduces the disorders that plagued Schumann for much of his life.

And find out what happened in the nail-biting saga of Robert and Clara's engagement.

201004Weathering The Storm20100610Donald Macleod brings together two unsettling strands in Schumann's life in the late 1840s, his precarious mental health and the revolution in his new home town of Dresden.

"Donald Macleod brings together two unsettling strands in Schumann's life in the late 1840s, his precarious mental health and the revolution in his new home town of Dresden."

201005 LASTOf Stars And Angels20100611
201301Piano20130729Donald Macleod explores Schumann's music for solo piano.

When Robert Schumann abandoned his legal studies, the world may have lost a lawyer, but it gained one of the freshest, most distinctive musical voices of the 19th - or any other - century. In this 70th anniversary week of the programme, Donald Macleod explores the work and life of this prototypically Romantic composer, who drew his inspiration as much from literature and the dramas of his own life as from the music of the composers he revered - above all, Bach, Beethoven and Schubert.

Largely self-taught, Schumann immersed himself in one musical medium until he felt ready to move on and tackle another. So this week's programmes look in turn at his five major fields of compositional activity: solo piano; song; chamber music; music drama; and music for orchestra.

For his first ten years as a composer, Schumann focused almost exclusively on the piano. He was a virtuoso pianist and had originally envisaged a solo career, so it was a natural place for him to start. Schumann's piano music is closely bound up with the circumstances of its creation, from the early Toccata in C, inspired by seeing Paganini in concert, to another C major work on an altogether grander scale, the Fantasie, op.17, which dramatizes the composer's inner life, and particularly his feelings of desolation at being separated from Clara Wieck (later to become his wife). The soberly-titled Variations in E flat major on an Original Theme are Schumann's last surviving work for solo piano, written days before his voluntary committal to the asylum where he would see out his final years. He said that the theme was 'dictated by the angels' whose voices he heard one night as he lay in bed.

"Donald Macleod explores Schumann's music for solo piano.

For his first ten years as a composer, Schumann focused almost exclusively on the piano. He was a virtuoso pianist and had originally envisaged a solo career, so it was a natural place for him to start. Schumann's piano music is closely bound up with the circumstances of its creation, from the early Toccata in C, inspired by seeing Paganini in concert, to another C major work on an altogether grander scale, the Fantasie, op.17, which dramatizes the composer's inner life, and particularly his feelings of desolation at being separated from Clara Wieck (later to become his wife). The soberly-titled Variations in E flat major on an Original Theme are Schumann's last surviving work for solo piano, written days before his voluntary committal to the asylum where he would see out his final years. He said that the theme was 'dictated by the angels' whose voices he heard one night as he lay in bed."

201302Song20130730Donald Macleod focuses on the year 1840, known as Schumann's 'year of song'.

When Robert Schumann abandoned his legal studies, the world may have lost a lawyer, but it gained one of the freshest, most distinctive musical voices of the 19th - or any other - century. In this 70th anniversary week of the programme, Donald Macleod explores the work and life of this prototypically Romantic composer, who drew his inspiration as much from literature and the dramas of his own life as from the music of the composers he revered - above all, Bach, Beethoven and Schubert.

Largely self-taught, Schumann immersed himself in one musical medium until he felt ready to move on and tackle another. So this week's programmes look in turn at his five major fields of compositional activity: solo piano; song; chamber music; music drama; and music for orchestra.

Today's programme is set largely in 1840, Schumann's 'year of song'. It was an extraordinary period of creative fertility that followed in the wake of his reunion with Clara Wieck, the sweetheart from whom he had been separated for many months. The year of song was far from idyllic; for much of it, Schumann had to contend with the litigation initiated by Clara's father, Friedrich, who was implacably opposed to their relationship. Implacable or not, he lost the battle, and on the 12th of September 1840, Clara Wieck became Clara Schumann. More than half of Schumann's output of lieder, much of it infused with his feelings for Clara, dates from this single year, including one of his finest song-cycles, Dichterliebe - The Poet's Love. Right at the other end of the spectrum are the 5 Hunting Songs of 1849, for male chorus and a quartet of horns.

"Donald Macleod focuses on the year 1840, known as Schumann's 'year of song'.

Today's programme is set largely in 1840, Schumann's 'year of song'. It was an extraordinary period of creative fertility that followed in the wake of his reunion with Clara Wieck, the sweetheart from whom he had been separated for many months. The year of song was far from idyllic; for much of it, Schumann had to contend with the litigation initiated by Clara's father, Friedrich, who was implacably opposed to their relationship. Implacable or not, he lost the battle, and on the 12th of September 1840, Clara Wieck became Clara Schumann. More than half of Schumann's output of lieder, much of it infused with his feelings for Clara, dates from this single year, including one of his finest song-cycles, Dichterliebe - The Poet's Love. Right at the other end of the spectrum are the 5 Hunting Songs of 1849, for male chorus and a quartet of horns."

201303Chamber Music20130731Donald Macleod explores Schumann's chamber music.

When Robert Schumann abandoned his legal studies, the world may have lost a lawyer, but it gained one of the freshest, most distinctive musical voices of the 19th - or any other - century. In this 70th anniversary week of the programme, Donald Macleod explores the work and life of this prototypically Romantic composer, who drew his inspiration as much from literature and the dramas of his own life as from the music of the composers he revered - above all, Bach, Beethoven and Schubert.

Largely self-taught, Schumann immersed himself in one musical medium until he felt ready to move on and tackle another. So this week's programmes look in turn at his five major fields of compositional activity: solo piano; song; chamber music; music drama; and music for orchestra.

Schumann's first serious venture into chamber music came in 1842, and it was an exceptionally productive one: two piano quintets, three string quartets and a set of Phantasiestücke for piano trio. The first quintet is one of Schumann's most popular works and has a truly symphonic sweep. By contrast, the quartets are intimate and discursive. Ten years on, Schumann was half-way through an ill-fated post as Director of Music for the city of Düsseldorf. Perhaps it was the increasingly unsatisfactory nature of his encounters with the local symphony orchestra, of which he was now the conductor, that spurred him to an intense, late burst of chamber-music composition, including the strange and elliptical Märchenerzählungen.

"Donald Macleod explores Schumann's chamber music.

Schumann's first serious venture into chamber music came in 1842, and it was an exceptionally productive one: two piano quintets, three string quartets and a set of Phantasiestücke for piano trio. The first quintet is one of Schumann's most popular works and has a truly symphonic sweep. By contrast, the quartets are intimate and discursive. Ten years on, Schumann was half-way through an ill-fated post as Director of Music for the city of Düsseldorf. Perhaps it was the increasingly unsatisfactory nature of his encounters with the local symphony orchestra, of which he was now the conductor, that spurred him to an intense, late burst of chamber-music composition, including the strange and elliptical Märchenerzählungen."

201304Music Drama20130801Donald Macleod focuses on Schumann's music drama, including his only opera, Genoveva.

When Robert Schumann abandoned his legal studies, the world may have lost a lawyer, but it gained one of the freshest, most distinctive musical voices of the 19th - or any other - century. In this 70th anniversary week of the programme, Donald Macleod explores the work and life of this prototypically Romantic composer, who drew his inspiration as much from literature and the dramas of his own life as from the music of the composers he revered - above all, Bach, Beethoven and Schubert.

Largely self-taught, Schumann immersed himself in one musical medium until he felt ready to move on and tackle another. So this week's programmes look in turn at his five major fields of compositional activity: solo piano; song; chamber music; music drama; and music for orchestra.

Today's programme is largely devoted to Schumann's one and only opera, Genoveva, a tale of conjugal suspicion - and devotion - set in the time of the Crusades. It's been widely criticised for its lack of real drama, but contains some wonderful music and deserves to be better known. Schumann's other major dramatic project started off as an opera but metamorphosed into an oratorio; Scenes from Goethe's Faust kept its composer occupied, on and off, for nearly ten years. Like Genoveva, it's had a mixed reception critically, and is equally deserving of performance.

"Donald Macleod focuses on Schumann's music drama, including his only opera, Genoveva.

Today's programme is largely devoted to Schumann's one and only opera, Genoveva, a tale of conjugal suspicion - and devotion - set in the time of the Crusades. It's been widely criticised for its lack of real drama, but contains some wonderful music and deserves to be better known. Schumann's other major dramatic project started off as an opera but metamorphosed into an oratorio; Scenes from Goethe's Faust kept its composer occupied, on and off, for nearly ten years. Like Genoveva, it's had a mixed reception critically, and is equally deserving of performance."