Morning Music: Robert Schumann

Robert SchumannI guess we have to discuss Robert Schumann. To me, he is the Romantic period. He is also the reason that I don’t like the period. But that doesn’t mean that he wasn’t a great composer. What’s more, he was a huge influence on Johannes Brahms, who I like rather more.

For the first ten years of his career, Schumann wrote exclusively for the piano. He had intended to be a pianist, but injured his hand and so turned to composition. At the peak of his abilities, he composed the Piano Concerto in A minor. I have to admit, it is an exquisite piece. At the same time, you can hear the kinds of things that bother me — its overly dramatic parts. But his use of the full orchestra for all its colors really is masterful. And you can certainly hear the beginnings of impressionism that would come with later composers.

This performance features one of the greatest pianists alive, Martha Argerich.

It may be of interest to you to know that Robert Schumann came by his music honestly. He was manic-depressive and slipped into paranoia later in life. He died at the age of 46 in an insane asylum.

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