Part of a series or song cycle:
Sechs Gesänge (Op.107)
In the forest
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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Wolfgang Müller von Königswinter was a German novelist and poet. He settled in Cologne, and became a popular poet, novelist, and chronicler of the Rhine region.
His real name was also the name of an earlier poet, Wilhelm Müller. In addition, he followed the poet's practice of appending the name of his birthplace to his original name. In 1835, he went to Bonn to study medicine at the wish of his father, also a physician. There he met Karl Joseph Simrock and Gottfried Kinkel. He continued his studies in Berlin in 1838 and graduated in 1840, after which he served his required time in the army as a surgeon. On his discharge in 1842, he went to Paris where he met Heinrich Heine, Georg Herwegh and Franz von Dingelstedt and continued his medical studies.
His stay in Paris was brief, since the death of his father pushed him to establish a practice in Düsseldorf. He married in 1847, and his family life was a great comfort and inspiration to him in later years. In 1848, he was a delegate to the preliminary parliament at Frankfurt. When that was over, he went back to writing sagas about the Rhine. In 1853, he gave up his medical practice and moved to Cologne, and gradually gave up medicine to devote himself to literature. He briefly went back to practicing medicine during the Franco-Prussian War and wrote some patriotic poems on this occasion.
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Previously performed at:
(As part of a song cycle/series:)
- 26 Oct 2016: Eichendorff Liederkreis: Felicity Lott & Eugene Asti
- 20 Oct 2016: Poetry Declaimed: Benjamin Appl & Gary Matthewman