excerpt from 'Musical letters from Abroad' pp. 60-62 (978 words)

excerpt from 'Musical letters from abroad' pp. 60-2 (978 words)

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Musical letters from Abroad

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urn:iso:std:iso:639:ed-3:eng

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60-2

60-62

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The concert was given in the saloon of the Gewandhaus, by Robert and Clara Schumann. The conductor was Robert Schumann himself; the pianist was his wife. The orchestra was large, and the best that Leipzig could furnish. Robert Schumann has great celebrity, and especially in those cities where he has resided and has brought out his music under his own immediate direction. No one since Mendelssohn’s death stands so high in the estimation of the German musicians. There are places where he is not known, because his music is not understood; but even in these, and throughout Germany, he is regarded as standing at the very head of his profession, and no one commands aa. he does the universal attention of scientific men. Some go so far as to regard him as the greatest symphonist that has ever lived; but time can only determine this.

The concert had been advertised for some time, and the expectations of the lovers of music were fully awake. Not only were the musicians and lovers of music of Leipzig present, but literary and scientific men of the various professions, and the beauty, and wealth, and fashion of the city came to do homage to talent of so high an order, and to learning so extensive. Like the people at Lystra, so here, they lifted up their voices, saying, not in the speech of Lycaonia, but in that of Saxony "The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.” 

[...]

But it was not only from this city that the audience was gathered on this occasion; it had been noised abroad that this concert was to be given, and musical men of high standing, Kapellmeisters and Concertmeisters, from the region round about, came up to Leipzig. Berlin, Dresden, Weimar, and other places were represented. At the head of this foreign company, and indeed at the head of the whole company, was Lis[zt];— the very Lis[zt] himself came from Weimar to listen, and to pay honor to greatness. But Robert Schumann is not alone, he has a “help meet” indeed. Clara Wieck was perhaps the most distinguished female pianist who has ever lived; and, unlike many ladies, she did not give up her instrument when she became Clara Schumann, but rather devoted herself with greater assiduousness under her new instructor, than she had previously done under the teachings of her father, to the profession which had been the choice of both her husband and herself. No wonder that the people should assemble on the occasion of a visit from this far-famed couple. But they came not to hear any one sing or play on an instrument, for although the wife is indeed a most accomplished pianist, yet the husband neither plays nor sings; but they rather came to hear the new music that the master had produced. They looked for some new musical revelation, for new chords (if possible), or new progressions; at least some new method of treatment, or harmonic development was expected. It was not to be the same tune over again. They went away satisfied; for, not only was the musical performance pronounced to be one of the very best, but the music, or the principal piece of attraction, was regarded as worthy of its author.

The first piece was the “Overture zu L. Byron's Manfred von R. Schumann," This is an overture in the true learned German style, and as unlike the overtures of the modem Italian and French schools as can be imagined; of course, it cannot be popular, that is, it cannot take with the people generally; on this occasion, however, it was fully appreciated and listened to, by one of the most intelligent musical audiences that could be brought together in Germany, with unmingled delight. The second piece was “Concert No. 2, F moll, fur Piano Forte mit Begleitung des or Chester, von F. Chopin,” performed by Clara Schumann. This is said to be in Chopin’s peculiar style, and one of his most difficult productions. Mad. Schumann played it with apparent ease, and with a delicacy of touch and distinctness of articulation not to be excelled. She has not so great a power as some; in this respect she resembles Chopin himself, but in everything else requisite to the perfection of piano forte playing she is fully accomplished. The third piece was a song by Herr Behr, necessary for variety’s sake; after which Mad. Schumann played most charmingly two pieces- “Andantino von W. Sterndale Bennett" and "Lied ohne Worte (F major), von F. Mendelssohn Bartholdy.”

The second part of the concert (and here was the attraction) consisted of “Die Pilgerfahrt der Rose” (the pilgrimage of the rose), a new composition for voices (solo and chorus) and orchestra by Robert Schumann. This has been performed here a week or two before, and was noticed in a previous communication. Anything like an analytical notice of it from one who has heard it but once or twice would hardly be expected, and in the present case it would be quite absurd. It will be known in a few years. The orchestra never played better; the idea of playing under Schumann inspired every man with new life and energy, and the improvement in the performance of the music under the direction of the composer (there having been a previous rehearsal also under his teaching), was said to be very apparent. We can hardly imagine a musical occasion that would be more interesting or exciting especially to the truly enlightened musician than this. For the few details here given we are indebted to others, for we did not attend this concert; we neither saw the sight nor heard the sound thereof. Why? It was given on Sunday Morning, March 14th, at 11 o'clock.

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excerpt from 'Musical letters from Abroad' pp. 60-62 (978 words)

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