Happy Birthday, Robert Schumann

Today marks the 208th anniversary of the birth of Robert Schumann (1810-1856).

On Monday, we considered the relationship between Anton Webern’s youthful 1907 Piano Quintet and the music of Brahms. Brahms’ Piano Quintet in F minor, completed during the summer of 1864, was greatly influenced by Schumann’s Piano Quintet in E-flat major, Op. 44. With this work, written in 1842 during his “year of chamber music,” Schumann practically invented the heroic and often symphonic pairing of string quartet and piano.

Notice how quickly this music moves between euphoric highs, shadowy depths, and serene, celestial beauty. These schizophrenic turns are especially clear in the second movement, which begins with a funeral march set in C minor. The first movement’s opening theme embodies the sense of nobility and grandeur we often hear in Schumann’s music. Listen to the way this opening statement returns at the end of the final movement as the subject of a double fugue.

I offer a few more thoughts on this piece in an earlier post. Here is a great performance by pianist Martha Argerich, violinists Dora Schwarzberg and Lucia Hall, violist Nobuko, and cellist Mischa Maisky:

Here is Schumann’s stormy Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54, performed by Hélène Grimaud and the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, led by David Zinman.

Recordings

  • Schumann: Piano Quintet in E-flat major, Op. 44, Martha Argerich, Dora Schwarzberg, Lucia Hall, violist Nobuko, Mischa Maisky Amazon
  • Schumann: Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54, Hélène Grimaud, David Zinman, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin Amazon

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

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