Schumann Piano Concerto A minor Program Notes
Even as a young girl, Clara Weick showed great talent for the piano, receiving some of the best training Europe had to offer, from her father Friedrick. He was such a great teacher that he drew in the 20-year-old Robert Schumann, who was anxious to improve his playing despite hands which were by some accounts lacking in strength or breadth. Five years’ study with the great Weick resulted mainly in a romantic attraction between the young Clara and Robert. Much to the chagrin of Weick père, they were married in 1840 when she was 20 and he 25, after a five-year courtship.
Schumann originally wrote the first movement of this concerto as a stand-alone Fantasia for Piano and Orchestra, with Clara as the soloist: she played it with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra two weeks before the young couple had their first child (of seven). After the piano’s dramatic proclamation, the oboe introduces a melancholic theme that develops and returns through the movement. Finding it hard to find a publisher, Schumann later added a second and third movement. In Clara’s diary, she wrote she was “very glad about it, for I have always wanted a great bravura piece by him. I am happy as a king at the thought of playing it with an orchestra.”
Clara Schumann was to be one of the 19th Century’s great virtuosos - her touring career would later support the family following Robert’s insanity and early death (aged 46).
Born: June 8, 1810, Zwickau, Germany
Died: July 29, 1856, Bonn, Germany