Robert Schumann: Great Compsoer, So-So Orchestrator

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Robert Schumann, probably pondering how to be a better orchestrator(Photo: unknown)
Robert Schumann, probably pondering how to be a better orchestrator(Photo: unknown)

Boyce Lancaster talks with Maestro Albert-George Schram, the resident staff conductor of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, about Robert Schumann, a great composer who needs a little ‘help’ from conductors to make his orchestra music sing.

[audio src="http://wosu.org/audio/classical/2006/Schumann1.mp3"]

Highlights From This Interview:

Albert-George: “There are great composers. There are composers who need help, a little bit. Moussorgsky‘s not as great as others. Schumann is another one that you have to help. If you just would do blatantly what is on the page, it sounds thick, muddy, messy, and amateurish. He’s not primarily a symphonist.”

Boyce: ‘We have such high thoughts about composers such as Schumann and Schubert and Mozart, that to say that any one of them might be a little lacking in an area is unthinkable for some people.”

Albert-George: “The fact is, I’m not talking about Schumann not being a great composer. But his art of orchestration was a bit lacking, and that’s ok. We do Schumann symphonies a lot, and we ought to because they are at the center of orchestra repertoire. It’s just that you will not find any recordings of Schumann symphonies on some level that are not the result of careful, sophisticated editing on the part of the conductor.”

Albert-George: “Mostly it’s a matter of question of thinning out a texture, because Schumann wrote so fat and too dense. And so he sort of got in his own way in terms of clarity of the language, and how the language would translate into a clear picture of on the part of the listener.”

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