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Pierre's Tuesday Blog

Schumann - Berlin Philharmonic, Rafael Kubelik – Symphonies No.1 & 4

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I plan three posts for this five-Tuesday month, the first of which launches a three-part monthly set that will share all four of Robert Schumann's symphonies, beginning with the "Spring" symphony, as an early harbinger of the spring equinox a mere three weeks away.

By age 30, Robert Schumann was already a successful composer of chamber music, including piano music and lieder. But in order to be able to make a living from composing he needed to achieve success in what was then regarded as the epitome of the composer's art: the symphony. As a pianist, Schumann had little experience in this area, nor had he received the appropriate training.

He composed his first symphony in January 1841 in Leipzig, sketching it out in just four days. The Symphony No. 4 was first completed in 1841 as well. Schumann heavily revised the symphony in 1851, and it was this version that reached publication.

Clara Schumann, Robert's widow, later claimed that the symphony had merely been sketched in 1841 but was only fully orchestrated ("vollständig instrumentiert") in 1851. However, this was untrue, and Johannes Brahms, who greatly preferred the earlier version of the symphony, published that version in 1891 despite Clara's strenuous objections.

Today's album is part of an early-1960's complete cycle of the Schumann symphonies by Rafael Kubelik and the Berlin Philharmonic. The YouTube playlist below has the complete set, though the album referenced below as the coupling of the first and fourth that I have in my vinyl collection.

Happy listening!

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Symphony No.1 In B Flat Major, Op. 38 "Spring Symphony"
Symphony No. 4 In D Minor, Op.120
Berliner Philharmoniker
Rafael Kubelik, conducting

Deutsche Grammophon Resonance 2535 116
Format – Vinyl LP
Year – 1974 (original issue 1963)

Discogs -

YouTube -