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Pierre's Tuesday Blog

PTB Classic: Robert Schumann

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Today’s Tuesday Blog is the second of a three-part series where we consider the four symphonies of Robert Schumann. In this “PTB Classic” playlist, Sergiu Celibidache leads the Munich Philharmonic in a pair of live concert recordings featuring the second symphony and the piano concerto in A Minor.

In the year 1845, Schumann embarked into intensive study of counterpoint with his wife, Clara. He began to compose away from the piano, as he noted in his writing: “Not until the year 1845, when I began to conceive and work out everything in my head, did an entirely different manner of composition begin to develop”.

Schumann began to sketch his second symphony on December 12, 1845, and had a robust draft of the entire work by December 28 and spent most of the next year orchestrating it. The uplifting tone of the symphony is remarkable considering Schumann's health problems during the time of its composition — depression and poor health, including ringing in his ears.

Though begun a few years earlier, the composition of Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor drags into 1845 as well. The complete work was premiered in Dresden on December 4 of 1845. It is one of the most widely performed and recorded piano concertos from the Romantic period.

Today’s featured soloist, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli is considered one of the greatest pianists of the twentieth century and was perhaps the most reclusive, enigmatic and obsessive among the handful of the world's legendary pianists. Our conductor today, Sergiu Celibidache, considered Michelangeli the "greatest living artist" and saw in him a colleague, stating that “Michelangeli makes colors; he is a conductor."

Celibidache's career in music spanned over five decades, including tenures as principal conductor of the Munich Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, Sicilian Symphony Orchestra and several other European orchestras. Celibidache frequently refused to release his performances on commercial recordings during his lifetime, claiming that a listener could not have a "transcendental experience" outside the concert hall. Many of the recordings of his performances were released posthumously. He has nonetheless earned international acclaim for his interpretations of the classical repertoire and was known for a spirited performance style informed by his study and experiences in Zen Buddhism.


Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54
Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, piano
Live recording: 26 September 1992

Symphony No.2, in C Major, Op.61
Live recording, 29 November 1994

Munich Philharmonic Orchestra
Sergiu Celibidache, conducting

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