April 24, 2022 7:00 PM
Schumann Fairy Tales & Fantasies
The Romantic imagination comes to life in Robert Schumann’s “Fantasy Pieces” for clarinet and piano, and “Fairy Tales” for clarinet, viola, and piano, plus works by Max Bruch and Marie Elisabeth von Sachsen-Meiningen.
“Mr. Carroll was entirely admirable — sweet and agile — in the dazzling clarinet solo.”
— New York Times
Fairy Tales, op. 132, for clarinet, viola, and piano
Marie Elisabeth von Sachsen-Meiningen:
Romance for clarinet and piano
Luisa Adolpha Le Beau:
Three Pieces, op. 26, for viola and piano
Romanian Melody, op. 83, no. 5, for clarinet, viola, and piano
Robert Schumann: Dreams, op. 15, no. 7, for piano
Fantasy Pieces, op. 73, for clarinet and piano
Night Piece, op. 83, no. 6, for clarinet, viola, and piano
“exciting… exquisite solo playing of Mr. Carroll.”
— The Wall Street Journal
Robert Schumann was one of the most influential European musicians of the 19th century, first through his work as a music critic, and then through having married one of the most famous pianists in the world. Clara Schumann used her fame to champion the music of her husband as well as that of their younger friend Johannes Brahms. All the composers on our program had connections to the Schumanns and their music. Marie Elisabeth von Sachsen-Meiningen was a student of Johannes Brahms, and Luise Adolpha Le Beau spent a summer studying with Clara Schumann. Max Bruch’s connection is only slightly farther removed: his teacher was Ferdinand Hiller, dedicatee of Robert Schumann’s piano concerto.
Robert Schumann was the child of a publisher and grew up surrounded by books. He read voraciously and achieved fame first and foremost as a music critic whose prose took an extravagantly creative turn. In much of his work as a composer he seems to be telling fanciful stories through music. The Fairy Tales, op. 132, for clarinet, viola, and piano, date from 1853 and are among Schumann’s last compositions. Previously he had written a set of Fairy Tale Pictures for viola and piano as well as various piano works on related themes. He also published many instrumental “romances” and “fantasy pieces” such as the set of three for clarinet and piano, op. 73.
Marie Elisabeth von Sachsen-Meiningen was a princess and the daughter of an important patron of Johannes Brahms who gave her lessons. Brahms performed her Romance in F with his beloved clarinetist Richard Mühlfeld on the same program at which they premiered one of his own clarinet sonatas.
Luise Adolpha Le Beau may be one of the most underrated German composers of the nineteenth century. She had an extraordinary career as pianist, composer, conductor, and music critic, and her published works include everything from solo piano pieces and songs, to chamber music, to large-scale choral and orchestral works, and even two operas. She also published an autobiography on her life as a woman composer.
Max Bruch carried the tradition of German Romantic music, as embodied by Robert Schumann and his followers, into the 20th century. His Eight Pieces for clarinet, viola, and piano, op. 83, date from 1910 yet sound very much like the earlier music on our program.