Program 79
"Clara Schumann"

MUSIC: Robert Schumann: clip from the very beginning of his Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54, performed by Thomas Lorango, pianist, with the New Brandenburg Collegium conducted by Anthony Newman [Newport Classic NCD 60034, track 1] [fades out under the following]

Recognize this piece? It is the opening of the Piano Concerto in A Minor by Schumann. What about this piece?

MUSIC: clip from the opening of Clara Schumann's Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 7, performed by Francesco Nicolosi, piano, with the Alma Mahler Sinfonietta conducted by Stefania Rinaldi [Naxos 8.557552, tracks 1, 2 and 3] [fades but continues under the following]

I'll bet you don't recognize it. And yet it is also the opening of the Piano Concerto in A Minor by Schumann. How could that be? Well, it's very simply explained by throwing in the first names of these two different, but highly related, romantic composers.

The first was by Robert Schumann. The second was by Clara Schumann. But I'll admit it is somewhat misleading to call them both Schumann, even though that certainly was Clara's married name. But she started writing this piece at the ripe old age of 14, when her name was Clara Wieck. She performed it two years later with the Leipzig Gewandhaus orchestra conducted by a chap you may have also heard of, even all these years later, by the name of Felix Mendelssohn.

Welcome to Compact Discoveries. I'm your guide Fred Flaxman. Stay with me for the next hour and we'll explore a couple of beautiful pieces by Clara Schumann, starting with this piano concerto. The pianist is Francesco Nicolosi. The all-female Alma Mahler Sinfonietta is conducted by the all-female Stefania Rinaldi.

MUSIC: fades up and continues until end of concerto

Francesco Nicolosi was the pianist with the Alma Mahler Sinfonietta conducted by Stefania Rinaldi in the Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 7, by Clara Wieck, also known as Clara Schumann and Mrs. Robert Schumann. She lived from 1819 to 1896.

She had to endure many tragedies as well as challenges in her life. Four of her eight children died. Her husband, the famous composer, attempted suicide and had a nervous breakdown.

Clara's father was a music teacher. Robert was one of his former pupils. Clara's father opposed their marriage, and, as it turned out, perhaps she should have listened to him. But even in those days daughters sometimes didn't listen to their fathers when the subject had to do with love. So Clara and Robert became secretly engaged in 1837. A few years later they got married when a court granted Clara permission to marry without her father's consent.

Clara's father had been her manager as well as her teacher, and she had embarked on a very successful career as a soloist. In fact she was one of the very few artists, male or female, to be considered the technical equal of Franz Liszt.

[two seconds of silence for optional cut-away for one-minute break not included in the 58:00 total timing of the program]

Clara Schumann's husband's attempted suicide and breakdown in 1854 was followed by a final period in a private asylum. This forced Clara to become superwoman, a mother of young children who continued her concert career as the only practical means of supporting her young family and paying the hospital bills for her husband. She returned from a concert-tour to England in early July 1856, in time to see her husband for the first time since his breakdown, two days before his death. By October she had resumed her work.

Perhaps you can understand now why Clara Schumann's musical compositions were limited in number. But not in quality, as you'll hear again with this second piece from the same Naxos compact disc that contained her piano concerto. This is Clara Schumann's Piano Trio in G Minor, Op. 17. Once again, Francesco Nicolosi is at the piano. Rodolfo Bonucci is the violinist; Andrea Noferini, the cellist.

MUSIC: Clara Schumann: Piano Trio in G Minor, Op. 17 performed by Francesco Nicolosi, piano; Rodolfo Bonucci, violin; Andrea Noferini, cello [Naxos 8.557552, tracks 4, 5, 6, 7]

Clara Schumann's Piano Trio in G Minor, Op. 17. Francesco Nicolosi was at the piano. Rodolfo Bonucci was the violinist; Andrea Noferini, the cellist.

MUSIC: excerpt from Clara Schumann: Romance, Op. 11, No. 1 performed by Yoshiko Iwai, pianist [Naxos 8.553501, track 1] [under the following]

That concludes this hour of music by Clara Schumann. I hope you enjoyed the music. My name is Fred Flaxman. The program is called Compact Discoveries. I would love to hear your comments and suggestions. You can contact me through the Compact Discoveries website:

Compact Discoveries is a registered trademark and production of Compact Discoveries, Inc. This program is made possible in part by the members of WXEL-FM, West Palm Beach, Florida.

MUSIC: up and fade out at 57:55

WFMT Announcer: This program is distributed by the WFMT Radio Network. [5 seconds]

Program Ends at 58:00

back to Compact Discoveries Home Page

  2009 Compact Discoveries