musical excerpt: kinderszenen

As to the “Kinderscenen,” I owe to them one of the greatest pleasures of my life. You know, or you don’t know, that I have a little girl of three years old, whom everybody agrees in considering angelic (did you ever hear such a commonplace?). Her name is Blandine-Rachel, and her surname Moucheron. [Pet name; literally, “little fly.”] It goes without saying that she has a complexion of roses and milk, and that her fair golden hair reaches to her feet just like a savage. She is, however, the most silent child, the most sweetly grave, the most philosophically gay in the world. I have every reason to hope also that she will not be a musician, from which may Heaven preserve her!

Well, my dear Monsieur Schumann, two or three times a week (on fine and good days!) I play your “Kinderscenen” to her in the evening; this enchants her, and me still more, as you may imagine, so that often I go over the first repeat twenty times without going any further. Really I think you would be satisfied with this success if you could be a witness of it!

— Franz Liszt, in a letter to Robert Schumann, June 1839 (source)

notes from the past: the letters between robert and clara

robertclaraschumann“Sometimes (but only very rarely) I’m overcome with a terrible fear that with all the honors which you will receive as an artist, you will forget the poor, simple artist who cannot adorn you with titles and can offer nothing but his love. But when I consider the depth of your heart, the truthfulness of your entire being and your character, too, which has always been so firm and honorable, I feel so happy and secure that I’m ashamed of my little fear….Clara, if only I could tell you how happy your love makes me; it fills me so completely that there isn’t any part of my whole being that doesn’t quiver with it. But then language and sounds become incomprehensible; I see only two figures embracing, and everything around me fades away. You’re my dear Clara.” – Robert Schumann, to Clara Wieck, February 1838

Source: The Complete Correspondence of Clara and Robert Schumann, edited by Eva Weissweiler (New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., 1994).

notes from the past: the letters between robert and clara

robertclaraschumann

(This snippet is interesting not only because of how it adds more depth of detail to the relationship between Robert and Clara, but also because it reminds us what a prestigious performer Clara Schumann was, a fact which is often overlooked/understated.)

“I gave my fourth concert this afternoon, and I played pieces by Liszt and Thalberg to silence those that thought I couldn’t play Thalberg. There were 13 curtain calls, and not even Thalberg experienced that. It was probably because the people in the audience were generally indignant about an article claiming that I didn’t know how to play Beethoven, a rumor started by Mr. Holz, Beethoven’s former shoeshine-boy. You can imagine the hubbub; just wait and see what will happen to him–he offended all who are knowledgeable about music and the entire audiences. You probably won’t understand the public’s enthusiasm here, since you don’t know what I’m accomplishing and since you don’t know me well enough as an artist. But don’t think I am angry with you for this; on the contrary, I am happy to know that you don’t love me because of my talent, but, as you once wrote on a little piece of paper, ‘I don’t love you because you are a great artist; no, I love you, because you are so kind.’ That pleased me immensely, and I have never forgotten it.” – Clara Wieck, to Robert Schumann, January 1838

Source: The Complete Correspondence of Clara and Robert Schumann, edited by Eva Weissweiler (New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., 1994).

notes from the past: the letters between robert and clara

robertclaraschumann“Listen–at Easter I’ll get a couple thousand talers from Eduard and Carl–and it’s then possible that I’ll build a small house–in consultation with experts, of course, with three rooms upstairs and just as many downstairs–the entire design and plan is already complete in my mind–Härtel’s house can’t compare with the cozy atmosphere in ours–the dreamy darkness in the one room with flowers in the window or the bright blue room with the grand piano and copper engravings–we will love each other very much and remain faithful–that will be an angelic life–you will gently guide me when I need direction–will tell me when I fall short, but also when I’ve done something nice–and I’ll do the same for you–you will love Bach for my sake and I Bellini for yours–we will often play duets–I’ll improvise for you at twilight, and sometimes you will sing along softly–and then you will fall quite blissfully into my arms and say, ‘I never imagined it would be so wonderful.’” – Robert Schumann, to Clara Wieck, January 1838

Source: The Complete Correspondence of Clara and Robert Schumann, edited by Eva Weissweiler (New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., 1994).

notes from the past: the letters between robert and clara

robertclaraschumann(A week late for Valentine’s Day, but irresistibly sweet nonetheless.)

“How happy your recent letters have made me, especially the one on Christmas! I have all kinds of words for you, but I know of none more beautiful than a little one, ‘dear’–but it has to be spoken in a special tone….If only I could do something to please you, my Clara. The knights of old really had an easier time; they could go through fire or slay dragons for their beloved–but we today have to gather our pennies together, one by one, in order to deserve our girls, and smoke fewer cigars and such things–but we can love each other without the knights, of course, and so, as usual, only the times have changed, and hearts have remained the same.” – Robert Schumann, to Clara Wieck, January 2nd, 1838

Source: The Complete Correspondence of Clara and Robert Schumann, edited by Eva Weissweiler (New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., 1994).