Part of a series or song cycle:
Drei Gesänge (Op.31)
Robert Schumann was a German composer and influential music critic. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest composers of the Romantic era. Schumann left the study of law, intending to pursue a career as a virtuoso pianist. He had been assured by his teacher Friedrich Wieck that he could become the finest pianist in Europe, but a hand injury ended this dream. Schumann then focused his musical energies on composing.
Schumann's published compositions were written exclusively for the piano until 1840; he later composed works for piano and orchestra; many Lieder (songs for voice and piano); four symphonies; an opera; and other orchestral, choral, and chamber works. Works such as Kinderszenen, Album für die Jugend, Blumenstück, the Sonatas and Albumblätter are among his most famous. His writings about music appeared mostly in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik (New Journal for Music), a Leipzig-based publication which he jointly founded.
In 1840, Schumann married Friedrich Wieck's daughter Clara, against the wishes of her father, following a long and acrimonious legal battle, which found in favor of Clara and Robert. Clara also composed music and had a considerable concert career as a pianist, the earnings from which formed a substantial part of her father's fortune.
Schumann suffered from a lifelong mental disorder, first manifesting itself in 1833 as a severe melancholic depressive episode, which recurred several times alternating with phases of ‘exaltation’ and increasingly also delusional ideas of being poisoned or threatened with metallic items. After a suicide attempt in 1854, Schumann was admitted to amental asylum, at his own request, in Endenich near Bonn. Diagnosed with "psychotic melancholia", Schumann died two years later in 1856 without having recovered from his mental illness.
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Pierre-Jean de Béranger was a prolific French poet and chansonnier (songwriter), who enjoyed great popularity and influence in France during his lifetime, but faded into obscurity in the decades following his death. He has been described as "the most popular French songwriter of all time" and "the first superstar of French popular music".
De Béranger was born at his grandfather's house on the Rue Montorgueil in Paris, which he later described as "one of the dirtiest and most turbulent streets of Paris". He was not actually of noble blood, despite the use of an appended "de" in the family name by his father, who had vainly assumed the name of Béranger de Mersix. He was, in fact, descended from more humble stock, a country innkeeper on one side of the family and a tailor on the other - the latter was later celebrated in a song, "Le tailleur et la fée" (The tailor and the fairy).
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Previously performed at:
- 14 Oct 2019: 19. Magical Mysteries: Katharina Ruckgaber, Ashley Riches & Sholto Kynoch
- 25 Oct 2016: Schumann & Loewe