Robert Schumann (1810-1856)

Episodes

SeriesEpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
201901Schumann Moves To Dusseldorf2017041720190513 (R3)

Donald Macleod focuses on everyday life with the Schumanns in Dusseldorf.

It was an offer Robert Schumann only wished he could have refused. But lacking other job opportunities, the composer reluctantly accepted Dusseldorf's offer of the post of Director of Music, with responsibility not only for a semi-professional orchestra, but also for a choir. All this week Donald Macleod looks at Schumann's Dusseldorf years and the creative stimulus this move provided for Schumann, his triumphs as well as his many failures. In less than five years, Robert would write some third of his entire output, composing concertos, choral works and symphonies. Despite the composer's tragic illness, he lost none of his powers of invention, and was indeed on the brink of enjoying both popular as well as critical success.

In today's episode, Robert and Clara are feted with a grand reception and a concert of Robert's own music. Despite this promising beginning, there are already domestic problems: the familiar struggle to find suitable accommodation, away from barrel organs and other street noises. And already there are mutterings among the choir and some of the orchestra about Robert's abilities as a conductor and manager of people.

Genoveva Overture, Op.81
New York Philharmonic
Leonard Bernstein

Sechs Gedichte von Nikolaus Lenau, Op. 90 (Meine Rose; Requiem)
Peter Schreier, tenor
Normal Shetler, piano

Myrthen, Op.25 (Widmung; Die Lotosblume)
Barbara Bonney, soprano
Vladimir Ashkenazy, piano

Das Paradies und die Peri, Op.50 (Part 2)
Monteverdi Choir
Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique
John Eliot Gardiner, conductor.

Donald Macleod focuses on everyday life with the Schumanns in Dusseldorf.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

201902Schumann Explores The Rhineland2017041820190514 (R3)

Donald Macleod explains how a trip to the Rhineland resulted in a symphony for Schumann.

It was an offer Robert Schumann only wished he could have refused. But lacking other job opportunities, the composer reluctantly accepted Dusseldorf's offer of the post of Director of Music, with responsibility not only for a semi-professional orchestra, but also for a choir. All this week Donald Macleod looks at Schumann's Dusseldorf years and the creative stimulus this move provided for Schumann, his triumphs as well as his many failures. In less than five years, Robert would write some third of his entire output, composing concertos, choral works and symphonies. Despite the composer's tragic illness, he lost none of his powers of invention, and was indeed on the brink of enjoying both popular as well as critical success.

In today's episode, the relationship between the Schumanns and their employers sours slightly when Clara is expected to play the piano in a concert gratis. The couple later take a trip to Cologne, inspiring one of Robert's best-loved symphonies, the 'Rhenish'. The subsequent premiere is a triumph, to the delight of both Robert and the Board of the Dusseldorf Music Society. It is a period of almost unbelievable creativity - no fewer than eighteen very substantial compositions in one year alone. And yet there are signs that not all is well with Schumann's health. And his conducting technique leaves a great deal to be desired, even in the opinion of some of his staunchest admirers!

Märchenbilder, Op 113 (1st movt)
Adrien Boisseau, viola
Gaspard Dehaene, piano

Symphony No. 3 in E flat, Op. 97, 'Rhenish'
London Classical Players
Roger Norrington, conductor

Mädchenlieder, Op. 103
Felicity Lott, soprano
Ann Murray, mezzo
Graham Johnson, piano

Nachtlied, Op.108
Monteverdi Choir
Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique
John Eliot Gardiner.

Donald Macleod explains how a trip to the Rhineland resulted in a symphony for Schumann.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

201903Falling Out Of Favour2017041920190515 (R3)

Donald focuses on the premiere of Schumann's melancholy Manfred Overture.

It was an offer Robert Schumann only wished he could have refused. But lacking other job opportunities, the composer reluctantly accepted Dusseldorf's offer of the post of Director of Music, with responsibility not only for a semi-professional orchestra, but also for a choir. All this week Donald Macleod looks at Schumann's Dusseldorf years and the creative stimulus this move provided for Schumann, his triumphs as well as his many failures. In less than five years, Robert would write some third of his entire output, composing concertos, choral works and symphonies. Despite the composer's tragic illness, he lost none of his powers of invention, and was indeed on the brink of enjoying both popular as well as critical success.

In today's programme, Schumann presents his melancholy Manfred Overture to a half-empty concert hall and appears somewhat less than heroic to his orchestra members. With the birth of a new child, the family finally find more suitable accommodation, with rooms sufficiently large to host a choir. Only, there are now mutterings of dissent among some of the singers. As relations between Schumann and his employers deteriorate, there are demands for him to consign some of his duties to his deputy. It's a situation that would frustrate most people, and yet Robert Schumann still manages to compose popular Hausmusik to be played and enjoyed in the home. And we hear a lighter side to the cigar-smoking Robert with a charming piano duet.

Manfred - incidental music, Op. 115 (Overture)
Berlin Philharmonic
Rafael Kubelik

Waldszenen, Op. 82 nos 3, 4, 5
Andras Schiff, piano

Der Rose Pilgerfahrt, Op. 112 (Part 1)
Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra and Choir
Gustav Kuhn, conductor

Ballszenen, Op. 109 (No. 7, Ecossaise)
Hector Moreno & Norberto Capelli (piano duet).

Donald focuses on the premiere of Schumann's melancholy Manfred Overture.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

201904Turning The Tables2017042020190516 (R3)

Donald Macleod focuses on signs of a decline in Schumann's mental and physical health.

It was an offer Robert Schumann only wished he could have refused. But lacking other job opportunities, the composer reluctantly accepted Dusseldorf's offer of the post of Director of Music, with responsibility not only for a semi-professional orchestra, but also for a choir. All this week Donald Macleod looks at Schumann's Dusseldorf years and the creative stimulus this move provided for the composer, his triumphs as well as his many failures. In less than five years, Robert would write some third of his entire output, composing concertos, choral works and symphonies. Despite the composer's tragic illness, he lost none of his powers of invention, and was indeed on the brink of enjoying both popular as well as critical success.

In today's programme, the composer develops an unhealthy interest in table-tapping and séances, whilst also writing a Mass and a Requiem. Donald Macleod recounts the remarkable story of his Violin Concerto (unearthed, it is claimed, partly through psychic activity), and the Schumanns' successful tour of Holland, where they discovered that Robert's music was almost as well known as at home. Despite ominous signs of declining mental and physical health, the Holland tour will end with popular acclaim, and also a baffling question from the Queen of Holland: "And are you musical, too?"!

Mass, Op. 147 (Tota pulchra es, Maria; Offertorium)
Cologne Chamber Chorus
Peter Neumann, director

Violin Concerto in D minor
Christian Tetzlaff, violin
Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra
Paavo Järvi, conductor

Märchenerzählungen, Op. 132 (movts 1 & 2)
Adrien Boisseau, viola
Pierre Genisson, clarinet
Gaspard Dehaene, piano

Introduction and Concert Allegro, Op. 134
Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
Jan Lisiescki, piano
Antonio Pappano, conductor.

Donald Macleod focuses on signs of a decline in Schumann's mental and physical health.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

201905 LASTGhost Variations2017042120190517 (R3)

Recounting the tragic events leading up to Schumann's voluntary admission to an asylum.

It was an offer Robert Schumann only wished he could have refused. But lacking other job opportunities, the composer reluctantly accepted Dusseldorf's offer of the post of Director of Music, with responsibility not only for a semi-professional orchestra, but also for a choir. All this week Donald Macleod looks at Schumann's Dusseldorf years and the creative stimulus this move provided for Schumann, his triumphs as well as his many failures. In less than five years, Robert would write some third of his entire output, composing concertos, choral works and symphonies. Despite the composer's tragic illness, he lost none of his powers of invention, and was indeed on the brink of enjoying both popular as well as critical success.

In this final episode, Donald recounts the tragic events leading up to Schumann's voluntary admission to an asylum, from which he would never reappear. Enraptured by the voices of angels, and later tormented by demons, Schumann frantically composes a set of piano variations on a theme dictated to him by an 'angel'. Even the regime at Endenich did not put a complete stop to his urge to compose, or at least review his compositions. Meanwhile, for Clara and her new friend and supporter Johannes Brahms there is some measure of consolation in playing through some of Robert's music.

Theme and Variations, Wo024
Andras Schiff, piano

Scenes from Goethe's Faust, Wo0 3 (Overture; Garten; Dom)
Bavarian Radio Symphony Chorus and Orchestra
Daniel Harding, conductor

Violin Fantasy, Op. 131
Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra
Christian Tetzlaff, violin
Paavo Jarvi, conductor

Gesänge der Fruhe, Op. 133
Maurizio Pollini, piano

Requiem, Op. 148 (Requiem aeternam)
Chorus Musicus Koln & Das Neue Orchester
Christoph Spering, conductor.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.