Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for Robert Schumann

Music History Monday: The Compositional Jag

On January 8, 1843 – 175 years ago today – Robert Schumann’s magnificent Piano Quintet in E-flat Major, Op. 44 received its public premiere in the Saxon city of Leipzig. Dedicated to his wife, the pianist Clara Wieck Schumann, the quintet was written during what can only be called a manic, three-year compositional jag. Check it out Robert and Clara were married in 1840. Jig city: in 1840 Schumann composed 135 songs, including the two Liederkreis cycles, and the cycles Frauenliebe und leben and Dichterliebe! The jag, continued: in 1841 he turned to orchestral composition and produced, among other works, his Symphony No. 1 in B-flat Major; the Fantasia in A Minor for piano and orchestra (which later became the first movement of his piano concerto); the Overture, Scherzo and Finale in E Major; and he began his Oratorio entitled Das Paradies und die Peri. Then 1842 rolled around and Schumann got freaky. In what is now called his “year of chamber music” he composed – in the span of nine months – the three string quartets of Op. 41; the Piano Quintet in E-flat Major; the Piano Quartet in E-flat Major; and the first of his piano trios, a… 

Continue Reading…

Music History Monday: A Very Long Engagement!

176 years ago today – on September 12, 1840 – one of the most tortuous, profanity-inducing, potentially violent, legally drawn out courtships ended when the composer Robert Schumann and the pianist Clara Wieck were married in Schönefeld, just northeast of Leipzig. The person to blame for all the tsuris was Friedrich Wieck, Clara’s father. He was a piano teacher who had molded his daughter Clara into one of Europe’s greatest pianists by the time she was a teenager. Clara was Friedrich’s reason-to-be, his creation, a walking advertisement for effectiveness of his “piano method” as well as his Individual Retirement Account. So when that lump Robert Schumann – who had once also been a student of Wieck’s – started sniffing around his Clara when she was just 16 years old (and Schumann was 25), well, it was time to nip things in the bud. There was no way on this good earth that that lame-fingered loser Robert Schumann was going to steal Wieck’s cash cow. Nip things. In the bud. Yes. But in this Friedrich Wieck was singularly unsuccessful, though it wasn’t for lack of trying. For five years after Robert and Clara had pledged themselves to each other he did… 

Continue Reading…