Welcome to Germany for my 4th composer profile: Composer and pianist, Clara Schumann.
Germany has provided the world with just tons of amazing composers such as Johann Sebastien Bach, Ludwig von Beethoven, Richard Wagner, Richard Strauss, Johannes Brahms, among many others. For this profile, I opted for Clara Schumann because I pretty much knew nothing about her. I knew she played the piano and was married to Robert Schumann who wrote a great Concert Piece for Four Horns, among much more wonderful music.
What I learned is that she was an amazingly talented woman who was known for being an incredible solo pianist and composer.
(née Clara Josephine Wieck; 13 September 1819 – 20 May 1896)
Hometown: Leipzig, Germany
Known primarily for piano pieces
It’s only truly been since WWII that many careers opened up as possibilities for women. And even then, it started because we got a taste for the outside-the-home working world while the men were off fighting the war.
So what about Clara herself? What about a contemporary of Mozart, composer and violinist Maddalena Laura Lombardini Sirmen? Even in today’s world, we don’t hear that much about women composers. Although, the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra will perform Jennifer Higdon‘s Violin Concerto next season, something which has an additional “coolness” factor. It’s music by a female composer being performed by a female concertmaster in an orchestra led by a female conductor.
Traditionally, women were not a part of the musician rosters of orchestras. They’ve not traditionally led orchestras. They’ve not traditionally written the music played by orchestras. Fortunately, this is changing, but for now, hats off to Composer Jennifer Higdon, Concertmaster Holly Mulcahy and Music Director, Maestro Kayoko Dan, for performing this music.
About composing, Clara Schumann said,
Composing gives me great pleasure… there is nothing that surpasses the joy of creation, if only because through it one wins hours of self-forgetfulness, when one lives in a world of sound.
Clara Schumann was quite a progressive woman. She juggled it all. She was very well-established as a soloist on the piano, already touring extensively around Europe before she married Robert Schumann. Even after their marriage, she continued touring and teaching – all while giving birth to eight children, of whom she outlived four.
Of his wife, Robert Schumann said this:
Clara has composed a series of small pieces, which show a musical and tender ingenuity such as she has never attained before. But to have children, and a husband who is always living in the realm of imagination, does not go together with composing. She cannot work at it regularly, and I am often disturbed to think how many profound ideas are lost because she cannot work them out.
Last weekend I was the Columbus Symphony Orchestra play Robert Schumann’s 2nd Symphony. At the pre-concert chat, we learned that Clara worked as a second breadwinner in her family, still performing while raising their children. A big reason for that is that Robert Schumann could write some beautiful music for the piano, but he wasn’t that great of a pianist himself. Clara – was a virtuoso so she performed them. She also assisted him in some of his composing, helping him to fine tune some things. Her husband also spent many years in and out of mental institutions including his final two-plus year stay after a suicide attempt before dying at the young age of only 46.
With six other mouths to feed, Clara continued composing, performing and teaching. She did rather well at it – working off her husband’s debts and raising her children well. We learned last weekend that she did so well that she “played herself into a happy grave.”
Listen to this piano concerto. It’s beautiful, isn’t it?
In an era where women either stayed at home or else worked in boarding houses, as teachers or as nurses, Clara Schumann definitely stood a world apart from other women creating beautiful music along the way.
Thanks for reading this today! Coming in March will be two composers from Switzerland and Italy: Heinrich Sutermeister (1910-1995) and Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710-1736). I hope to see you then!
This Thursday, I’m finally heading south – to the world that occasionally has entire days that are ABOVE freezing! No, really. It’s true! Entire days! Weather aside, I’m taking a vacation to the city of Chattanooga in the great state of Tennessee!
Why Chattanooga and why this weekend? Well – I love Mozart. He’s my favorite and on Sunday, February 23, the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra is performing Mozart’s Symphony No. 40. Here’s what’s on the program. I’m so excited!
No idea who Casterede is, but that’s OK – I’ll learn. Besides, it’s Flutes en vacances and I’ll be en vacances, so it’s perfect! Anyhoo…Vivaldi – baroque and Mozart – classical. You cannot go wrong with this concert. It’s going to be great!
So I’m planning a whole trip around hearing Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 this Sunday. I’m driving down on Thursday and back next Tuesday leaving me with 4 whole days to explore and enjoy Chattanooga. Having lived in Atlanta and being from Indiana, I’ve driven THROUGH Chattanooga a bunch of times, but haven’t actually stopped there. So, I’ve made a wish list:
- Go to the Aquarium. It’s supposed to be fabulous!
- Visit Civil War sites. My ancestor, Brevet Brigadier General Benjamin Franklin Scribner, led his men in the 38th Indiana Regiment in many of the battles fought in the Chattanooga campaign such as Chickamauga and Lookout Mountain, though he was a colonel at the time.
- See the Choo Choo. Obviously! Remember my tour of the Ohio Theatre last summer? What did our awesome organist play? Chattanooga Choo Choo. It’s fate. It’s my destiny. It’ll be fun, too.
Attend a concert. This we know. My friend from there is even going to join me for this. (and for the Civil War sites!)
Another fun thing to do will be to follow some of the suggestions of the CSO-TN Concertmaster herself. Holly Mulcahy has written several posts about being new to Chattanooga – seeing the sites and – visiting some top-notch pastry and coffee shops.
Check out some of her posts below about her new city. And as a linguist, may I say I love the alliteration!
You all know I’ll write about the concert, but visiting a new city will be a super fun adventure, so I’m sure I’ll share some of that fun as well. Heck, the CSO-TN’s own music director, Kayoko Dan (Hmm…should I call her Maestro Kayoko when I meet her in person?!) is going to join me at the aquarium and for some knitting. Yes – we’re both knitters! Holly’s going to join for some of Chattanooga’s famous coffee and pastries!
I may be traveling down there alone, but there will be no shortage of great company!
I should also mention that some of the other fine folks at the CSO in Chattanooga offered to help me out with visit – also recommending places to stay, offering to make sure I had plenty of suggestions on things to do, etc. I can’t get over how hospitable they have been. I’m coming down for one afternoon concert, but they’re going out of their way to make sure I’m taken care of for the duration of my visit.
Southern hospitality – I love it!
2014 is going to be a fun year. I’m really looking forward to all the music I’m going to hear – whether it be live concerts in places like Columbus or Chattanooga or something I discover online while checking out 24 new (to me) composers in my Passport to Composers series that I’m starting up in another week or two. Before I jump ahead though, I’d like to say thank you to all the folks who have taken the time to read or even comment on my blog.
Thanks as well to anyone along the way who recommended other blogs to check out in order to help me learn more about the classical music business (Adaptistration and Iron Tongue of Midnight were two main ones recommended, though I’ve since discovered more!). I’m even very thankful for those who told me (when I first started and added what I thought was a cool picture as a background) that the picture may be cool, but it takes forever to open the page. (Oops. Thanks, Drew!)
Giocosity is a new blog as of June of 2013, but even though it’s young, I thought it would be fun to summarize my top posts for 2013 and where folks are visiting my blog.
It’s been tough getting the word out especially knowing I’m just writing for fun as a patron and fan as opposed to writing from the perspective of someone in the industry such as a musician, staff member or consultant. Fortunately, I’ve never claimed to be an expert – just someone who enjoys writing about my concert experiences and learning about the great music being performed along the way – so I imagine more readers will come with time.
Looking at my top ten posts, folks definitely seemed to enjoy French Horn Week as four of my top ten posts were from that fun project.
1. Minnesota Orchestra: Links – summarizes some of the posts written by industry professionals.
2. Soul of an Orchestra - My last post of French Horn week
3. Survey Results: Donate? Or Not? – Part I - Gives an idea of the effort required to make an online donation to the CSO
4. The Show Must Go On - What a wonderful performance by Philippe Quint and the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra
5. Minnesota Orchestra Musicians: Let Them Play! - My Labor Day contribution
6. Julia Rose – Associate Principal French Horn - My profile of one of the fabulous French horn players with the CSO. Hers was my first ever interview. Thanks, Julia!
7. …But the Chopin Was Amazing! - It really was! Dr. Nicholas Ross played Chopin’s Piano Concerto #1 excellently well!
8. Not Your Average Concert-Goer - Classical music fans don’t all come in the same packaging!
9. Don’t Look ‘Em in the Eyes! - My introductory post of French Horn Week.
10. Gene Standley – Principal French Horn - My profile of the CSO’s principal horn player. The last of my horn player interviews – one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet!
Honorable mention: #11: Westerville Symphony Concert - My first time hearing the Westerville Symphony Orchestra at a wonderful venue at Alum Creek Park in Westerville. I even enjoyed the Khachaturian!
Where are they?
I’m in the US and I’m writing in English, so the vast majority of my readers are from the US. Makes sense, right? After that, #2-10 countries are: Canada, UK, France, Germany, Russia, Australia, Latvia, Spain and Norway.
Honorable mention: #11 Japan
What to expect in 2014
2014 will be fun. Starting later this month, I’ll post my first offering on my Passport to Composers series where I will feature one composer from every country I’ve either lived in or visited. Having served in the Peace Corps, I like to venture off the beaten path, so the composer I choose to profile won’t always be first one you think of when a country like Austria or Germany is mentioned.
I look forward to enjoying more concerts by the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, but also by other ensembles such as Early Music in Columbus, Westerville Symphony Orchestra, ProMusica Chamber Orchestra or, a little further off my locally beaten path, the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra.
Locally I hope to expand a little bit as well and work my way out to the New Albany Symphony Orchestra – plus, I have yet to make it to a concert at Ohio State, but that’s primarily due to my funky work hours. If I don’t get out on time (which I rarely do), I can never make it to concerts during the week which is a bummer since there’s so much great music being played! Definitely something I hope to remedy in the new year!
I hope to expand on my interviewing as well. I’m already working on setting up some interviews with some soloists and conductors. Plus, I interviewed composer Michael Torke before the holidays, so I’ll be posting that pretty soon. He’s got some fabulous music out there, for sure!
Who knows what’s in store for Giocosity?! What will be my top posts in 2014? Heck if I know, but I do look forward to having lots of musical fun! I look forward to hearing from you as well via your comments and questions left for me here.
So with that in mind, as they say in my adopted country of Bulgaria:
Честита нова година, приятели! Желая ви добро здраве, много щастие и късмет през новата година!!
Happy New Year, friends! I wish you good health, much happiness and fortune in the new year!
So I’ve been hopping in and out of other orchestra sites around the country. Here are some upcoming performances that I think look really great. What do you think? Is my love of Classical, Baroque and Early music eras pretty obvious?
I’m already planning to attend this one and a handful of others!
Mozart: Father and Son
James Sommerville, conductor/horn
Friday-Sunday, November 1-3
ROSSINI, Overture to The Barber of Seville
SILVESTROV, Stille Musik
LEOPOLD MOZART, Horn Concerto in D
MOZART, Horn Concerto No. 3
HAYDN, Symphony No. 94 (“Surprise”)
This is way too far away for me to get there, but what a wonderful concert this will be. Everything listed is fantastic.
“Sounds of the Season ”
Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 7:30 p.m. at Cordiner Hall
Bach– Brandenburg Concerto No. 2
Bach– Brandenburg Concerto No. 3
Corelli – Concerto Grosso in G Minor, “Christmas Concerto”
Vivaldi – Gloria with Whitman College Chorale, Dr. Jeremy Mims, Director and soloists from Clarion Brass Choir,
William Berry, Director
Itzhak Perlman – he could play Mary Had a Little Lamb and I would want to be there! I don’t even know these pieces, but I don’t care. It’s Itzhak Perlman!!
Sunday, January 12, 8pm
Jahja Ling, conductor
Itzhak Perlman, violin
RESPIGHI: Ancient Airs and Dances, Suite III
HINDEMITH: Symphonic Metamorphosis
BEETHOVEN: Violin Concerto
I really do want to travel down to Chattanooga at least once this next season to see my friend, Holly play. And to see another friend of mine, too! And offer up knitting lessons to the CSO-TN music director in exchange for an interview? :-)
Sun Feb 23 3:00pm
Sheraton Read House
Conductor: Kayoko Dan
MOZART Symphony No. 40
If only I had an unlimited travel budget!
Yesterday I wrote about how people make donations to various charitable or arts organizations. Today, it’s all about the online donation process. Don’t know how that donation process should work? Here are two great examples that I tried when I couldn’t originally donate to the CSO.
In the span of five minutes, I made two quick $5 donations. Not much, I know, but it let me go through the motions and every little bit helps.