I’ve always been a huge fan of Robert Schumann’s music. I know all about his life story — the word “tragedy” comes to mind, and you can read all about it here — but while that knowledge provides some background, it doesn’t really matter because the music is beautiful beyond words. In one of those extraordinary little coincidences which occasionally drive me crazy, when I discovered the linked article I just happened to be listening to
Schubert’s Schumann’s First Symphony (“Spring”) in B-flat major, the second movement of which has one of the most most haunting melodies ever written (just after the 15.30-minute mark). That the melody happens during a piece which celebrates the coming of the spring — traditionally a “happy” theme — is just one of the joys of listening to Schumann.
As for the “other” Schumann (his wife, virtuoso pianist Clara Wieck), the DM review of Judith Schernaik’s biography of Schumann pays eloquent praise to this extraordinary woman. (The book itself has gone onto my Christmas list.)
Anyway, if you want to enrich your life for a couple of hours on a chilly winter’s day or evening, you could do a LOT worse than listen to all four of Schumann’s symphonies, in order. I’ve selected the performances of the Staatskapelle Dresden, conducted by the incomparable Wolfgang Sawallisch.
Then, if you feel the need for more Schumann (and well you might), help yourself to a few of his Etudes…
No need to thank me; it’s all part of the service.