Celebrating Clara Schumann

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Thursday is the birthday of Clara Schumann (Sept. 13, 1819), one of the most distinguished pianists of her day and one of the best-known female composers of all time.

She also inspired many great musicians, including her husband Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms, Joseph Joachim and even Franz Liszt, whom she didn’t like, among others. In honor of Clara Schumann, for this week’s Showdown we’re asking you to select your favorite from one work she composed and two works she was connected with in a significant way.

Despite Clara Schumann's Piano Concerto in A Minor leading all morning, it was Brahms' Symphony No. 3 that won with some very last-minute votes. The performance we played at noon is by the London Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Marin Alsop.

Brahms, who some say was in love with Clara Schumann, sent her the score around the time of her 64th birthday and she responded: "I have spent such happy hours with your wonderful creation ... that I should like at least to tell you so. What a work! What a [musical] poem! What a harmonious mood pervades the whole! All the movements seem to be of one piece, one beat of the heart, each one a jewel! From start to finish one is wrapped about with the mysterious charm of the woods and forests. I could not tell you which movement I loved the most."


Comments [13]

Robert Schumann's Dog from Berlin, Germany

Boo. Score one for the conservatives who just want to hear what they already know.

Sep. 12 2012 03:30 PM
Andrew B from Lower Merion, PA

I love the other works but voted for Clara on her Birthday. My question is why weren't all the choices from Clara? Among her substantial pieces, whe composed two piano trios, opp. 10 & 17, and her Soirées musicales, op. 6. Most of the rest of her output was smaller character pieces, but maybe we could have those delights programmed during this week of her birthday.

Sep. 12 2012 11:59 AM
Helen Aigen from Brooklyn, NY

Clara is my choice. But I really want to hear more music by female composers. There were hundreds of the over the history of music. They are almost never performed. The question is : WHY?

Sep. 12 2012 11:49 AM
Perry from Brooklyn

Well, yes, it would seem appropriate to play a piece by Clara Schumann herself, but the Brahms is such a magnificent symphony that one is eager to hear it always! Great music trumps a sentimental tribute in my book, and of course, Brahms' works were all tributes to his love for Clara, n'est-ce pas?

Sep. 12 2012 11:45 AM
Robert Schumann from Berlin, Germany

Go Cla-ra, it's your birth-day... Go Cla-ra, it's you're birth-day..

Sep. 12 2012 11:43 AM

On her birthday, why not play a piece by her, rather than one she inspired or endorsed?

It's only fitting.

I voted for Clara.

Sep. 12 2012 11:31 AM
John Blasdale from Whippany NJ

As far as I can remember, I've never heard Clara Schumann's Piano Concerto, so that's my choice today; the other two works are well known.
If Clara's Concerto doesn't win, may we please have it programmed soon?

Sep. 12 2012 11:24 AM
Raymond Banacki from Brooklyn, New York

Clara Schumann's Piano Concerto, please!

Let's hear it for the girl! - she was such a talented woman - and she had such great taste - and we don't get to hear her often enough.

Sep. 12 2012 11:17 AM
Lee Lieberman from Fort Lee, NJ

Clara's Concerto by all means. WQXR needs to play more obscure,but worthwhile music.

Sep. 12 2012 11:09 AM
Tim Brown from Washington DC

If we're celebrating Clara's birthday, let's hear Clara's music by all means!

Sep. 12 2012 11:04 AM
Edward Duff from Kissimmee

Clara's work, by all means. I read that some of her compositions were published under Robert's name because "women were supposed the housewives, etc." Fanny Mendelsohn had some of her works published under her brother's name. Welcome to the 21st Century. By the way, I'm a man.

Sep. 12 2012 09:52 AM
kriss from Piscataway, NJ

To me, this is a no-brainer! How often do we get to hear Clara Schumann's compositions? (or any other woman composer's, for that matter?)

Clara Shumann's piano sonata, by all means!

Sep. 12 2012 09:11 AM
Dina from Leiden, Holland

Robert Schumann

Sep. 12 2012 06:58 AM

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