Schumann’s Blumenstück in D-Flat Major: Vladimir Horowitz, Live in 1966

Robert Schumann described his Blumenstück (“Flower Piece”) in D-flat Major, Op 19 as “variations, but not upon any theme,” adding that “everything is interwoven in such a peculiar way.”

Indeed, the brief solo piano piece unfolds in a series of dreamy episodes through which runs a common thematic thread. Following its initial statement, the opening episode fades into the background, and it is the second section of the piece which recurs as a refrain. Blumenstück is filled with charm and intimacy, yet there is also something vaguely obsessive and hypnotically circular about this music. The title refers to the German word for a still life portrait of flowers, and illustrates Romanticism’s celebration of nature.

Composed in 1839 during a period of time when Schumann was living in Vienna and attempting to secure publication for his music periodical, Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, Blumenstück was intended to be a companion piece to the Arabeske in C Major, Op. 18. In the days long before recordings, it was conceived as popular music to be played principally by women in their homes. In a letter to his soon-to-be wife, Clara Wieck, from January 24, 1839, Schumann’s description of his compositional activity included “other small things, of which I have so many, and which I shall chain together prettily under the title Kleine Blumenstücke, much like one might name a series of pictures.” Nearly two months later on March 11, he wrote to Clara, who was living in Paris,

I am so deeply in love with you that I think of you with such love as I have never known before. The whole week long I sat at the piano and composed and wrote and laughed and wept. All at once.

Blumenstück is infused with the falling four-note “Clara” motif which Schumann used in his Carnaval, Op. 9. Although occasionally he dismissed the seriousness of Blumenstück, Schumann offered the piece as a gift to his wife on their wedding day.

This 1966 concert performance features the legendary Russian-born American pianist, Vladimir Horowitz:


  • Schumann: Blumenstück in D-flat Major, Op 19, Vladimir Horowitz 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.

2 thoughts on “Schumann’s Blumenstück in D-Flat Major: Vladimir Horowitz, Live in 1966”

  1. O.M.G…. Horowitz and Schumann… it doesn’t get better, so intimate, so lyrical. Thank you Tim! I have the honor to have gotten Horowitz to sign my program after hearing him perform a recital in Seattle in 1976, back in the days when you could just wander backstage after a show and wait outside the green room. Of course, I wasn’t alone there but I managed to shake his hand and get his signature!


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