January 06, 2005

More Gratuitous Musickal Posting (TM)

Right now, the local classical station is playing Schumann's Symphony No. 4 in D minor, one of my favorite pieces of music. (I have this recording of all the Schumann symphonies at home.)

As it usually does, hearing this got me thinking about something: A friend of mine in college, a violist and a music major, always insisted that Schumann really didn't understand how to write for strings and that, as a consequence, his string music is rather sloppy and overloaded with notes. I'm just a pianist (Schumann certainly understood how to write piano music) and an amateur at that, so couldn't say whether this assessment is correct or not. Anyone out there have any words of enlightenment?

UPDATE: The O.F. forwards this article by Lawrence Budmen. Money quote:

In 1841 Schumann turned to writing orchestral music. Over the next decade he composed 4 symphonies, the great "Piano Concerto in A Minor," Opus 54, the "Overture, Scherzo, and Finale," Opus 52 (a mini symphony), and the florid "Konzertstuck in F Major for Four Horns and Orchestra," Opus 86. For many years these works were widely misunderstood. The pianist and scholar Charles Rosen commented that Schumann "brought a new complexity and a new uneasiness to the art of music, and they are still with us." The unwillingness of many conductors and critics to face that complexity and originality in Schumann's orchestral music resulted in the myth that Schumann was an amateur who could neither orchestrate nor bring the poetry of his piano and vocal works into large scale orchestral forms. Gustav Mahler and Felix Weingartner reorchestrated the symphonies. Their editions added wind and brass sections of near Wagnerian proportions and altered the harmonic and instrumental textures. This new scoring destroyed much of the composer's originality and presented the music in a conventional 19th century romantic orchestral mold.

I don't really know anything about Budmen, but Charles Rosen is a giant among music scholars whose comments are always worthy of attention. Make of this what you will.

Posted by Robert at January 6, 2005 10:27 AM

Having read your Schumann blog, you might be interested in this blurb by Lawrence Budman, a critic and writer (musical).

Posted by: O.F. at January 6, 2005 12:55 PM

I can't get the link to work, nor can I find the article in a google search. Email it to me and I'll post it.

Posted by: Robert the LB at January 6, 2005 01:27 PM

I have a kind of Manet/Monet block when it comes to Schumann and Schubert.

I thought for a long itme they were the same guy. And I cannot, for the life of me, keep straight which one wrote "The Trout" ("Die Forelle").

Ah -- google tells me it was Schubert that wrote "The Trout."

(Emily Litella voice)

"Never mind."

Posted by: The Colossus at January 7, 2005 11:22 AM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?