Robert Schumann Bicentennial

Robert Schumann(Photo: Unknown)
Robert Schumann(Photo: Unknown)

June 8 is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Robert Schumann, one of the greatest Romantic composers.

Although in his later years he was troubled by mental illness and died when he was only 46, he left a significant body of work that continued the development of 19th century music after Beethoven and Schubert. There were important solo piano pieces, lieder, chamber works, concertos, an opera, and other orchestral and choral compositions.

In the genre of the symphony, after Schumann’s four, it could be argued that it isn’t until Johannes Brahms in 1876 that a symphony cycle of equal stature appears. It’s true that Bruckner and Tchaikovsky had already written symphonies by that time, but their greatest works were still to come.

Of the same generation as Schumann, Felix Mendelssohn, whose bicentennial was last year, passed away even younger at 38, stopping short his considerable development as a symphonic composer, and of course, we know that Richard Wagner (b. 1813) went on to concentrate on opera.

All week on Symphony at 7, I’ll have one of the symphonies of Robert Schumann for you, and for good measure, the Overture, Scherzo and Finale. I hope you can join me for this tribute to this great German Romantic composer.

In the meantime, here is one of Schumann’s best loved melodies performed by Vladimir Horowitz as an encore in his famous 1986 Moscow concert: