With a review of 2018 appearing in Schumann Journal No. 8, we are already right in the middle of the Schumann anniversary year 2019 in which the 200th anniversary of Clara Schumann’s birth is celebrated. In 2018, intensive preparations for exhibitions and events in 2019 were, of course, underway everywhere already, including, in particular, for the Schumann Festivals this year, often bearing Clara Schumann in their title; refinements were made to the concept of the new Schumann memorial at the Schumann House in Leipzig, which is to include Clara Schumann on an equal footing with her husband Robert, and to be splendidly inaugurated on 13th September 2019 as a highlight of the Leipzig Schumann anniversary year (Clara19); new volumes of the Schumann Letter Edition, that are very important for research, such as the correspondence with Joseph Joachim who was not only a close friend of the Schumanns but also Clara Schumann’s most frequent concert partner, were made ready for printing and will shortly be released by publisher Dohr. Furthermore, progress was made with new Clara Schumann biographies, of which the biography written by Irmgard Knechtges-Obrecht at the request and by order of the German academic publishing house Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft will appear in May 2019. To general delight, an edition of Clara Schumann’s Youth diaries, long and eagerly awaited everywhere, was completed in 2018 and printed. It was presented for the first time by its editor Gerd Nauhaus at the Leipzig Book Fair a few days ago. There, Gerd Nauhaus, who set a milestone in Schumann research many years ago by editing the diaries and household books of Robert Schumann, also warmly commemorated the co-editor Nancy B. Reich, the renowned American Clara Schumann biographer, who died near New York at the beginning of 2019 at the age of 94 and who for a long time had no longer been able to be intensively involved in the editing process. But 2018 saw, of course, not only preparations but also an increasing number of concerts and readings dedicated to Clara Schumann, and the premieres of new theatre plays were celebrated, which were staged by the authors Elena Mazzon and Viktoriya Papayani themselves. And there were also a variety of sound recordings presenting compositions by Clara Schumann. But it would, of course, certainly not be in the spirit of Clara Schumann, herself celebrated as a pianist since her childhood and who in the lifetime of Robert Schumann had surpassed him in fame by far, that she should be given priority over her husband for whom she had always sought to ensure due recognition through her role as an interpreter and publisher of his works until his death, and also fully achieved this. She had accepted the fact that, for this very reason, her own works as a composer, far less numerous than those of Robert Schumann, were pushed to the background because she had basically stopped composing after his death, and obviously seen this as her own free decision, being a confident, autonomous and even financially independent woman, in spite of a large crowd of children and grandchildren, all owing to her own strength and performance, who was also a celebrated artist and true ‘grande dame’ of the 19th century, and this should by all means be duly honoured. Still, even in light of the individual appreciation of Clara and Robert Schumann, it is wonderful to further acknowledge them as an artist couple who inspired and loved each other in spite of all difficulties until Schumann’s untimely and miserable death.
The contribution by Timo Evers in this issue of the Schumann Journal, also read last year as a paper at the Heinrich Heine Institute (Düsseldorf), is dedicated to Robert Schumann’s early piano works, Opp. 4 to 6, which fall into Robert Schumann’s so-called early creative phase between 1829/30 and 1840, which was exactly the time when young Clara, the prodigy of his piano teacher Wieck, undertook the first concert tours with her father, and who, eulogistically celebrated for her Beethoven playing at the end of the decade, was crowned in Vienna as a brilliant young star with the Imperial-Royal title of Chamber Virtuoso conferred to her, through which her international career really gained momentum.
As a companion piece to her essay “Robert Schumann in Berlin”, published in the last Schumann Journal, Theresa Schlegel took on a commission to explore Clara Schumann’s stays in Berlin, far more frequent and longer, where, after being widowed, she set up her main residence for a few years.
As usual, these contributions are preceded by a Schumann Forum talk which I held with our long-time Schumann Forum member, the Dutch pianist Claar ter Horst, within a talk concert at the Berlin Konzerthaus concert hall on 07.01.2019, where a variety of magnificent duets, trios and quartets by Robert Schumann were performed, which the Schumann Network was able to have recorded with funds from the German Federal Commissioner for Cultural and Media Affairs, and which were released by Naxos in 2018 (cf. Schumann Journal 7, p. 416 et seq). The vocal quartet “The orange and myrtle here”, which both introduced the double CD and was also the first piece at our talk concert, organi-sed in cooperation with the Hanns Eisler Conservatoire in Berlin and the Berlin Konzerthaus concert hall, gave us an opportunity to pay homage to Robert Schumann’s wife Clara with his part songs on the 200th anniversary of her birth. As is well known, he gave her the poem for the first time, dedicated to Clara Wieck, in the summer of 1840, and then a second time, now set as a vocal quartet, on her 34th birthday on 13th September 1853, her last birthday she was able to happily celebrate together with her husband.
As usual, we present an ample choice of the new Schumann-releases of last year up to the beginning of 2019 ‒ many of which with detailed reviews incl. summaries in English ‒, and we are again thrilled by the abundance of remarkable CD recordings! Of course, the Journal also presents, as usual, the new editions of sheet music and books released during the year under review, including the latest releases of the Robert Schumann Complete Edition and the Schumann Letter Edition.
The review of the past year, introduced by the Project Manager of the Schumann Network a few years ago, this year presents, along with the reports from Dresden, Leipzig and Zwickau, rather deliberately, a review and preview in pictures which, in addition to the Schumann Festivals, specialised Schumann events or Schumann workshops, also include other particularly remarkable events with a Schumann relation, where two events were particularly exciting for me personally and concerned two of our Schumann Forum members: This was a festive event in Mainz in the early November 2018 on the occasion of the conferment of the Robert Schumann Prize for Poetry and Music to Jörg Widmann by the Academy of Sciences and Literature in Mainz, for whom the long-time Chairman of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Professor Clemens Hellsberg, delivered a very beautiful and delicately worded laudation, which also highlighted his personal appreciation of Jörg Widmann. I am very happy to announce that Professor Hellsberg, at my request, kindly provided me with a written version of his laudation for printing in the Schumann Journal, which you will find in this issue, including an English translation. Moreover, we were extremely pleased to also hear on that evening our Schumann Forum member Luisa Imorde (cf. our Schumann Forum talk with her in Schumann Journal 6/2017, p. 46 et seq., also available online as a video under the heading Schumann Forum and on YouTube, or in pdf format under the heading Schumann Journal on www.schumannportal.de) delighting the audience with works by Robert Schumann and Jörg Widmann at the Academy in Mainz. Another lucky event for me at the end of November 2018 was the presentation of the first CD “Frage” (“Question”) of the complete edition of Schumann’s songs by Christian Gerhaher, the patron of our Schumann Forum, and Gerold Huber, at a concert in the studio of Bavarian Broadcasting in Munich. This project – the CD “Frage” is, of course, also duly mentioned in the review section of this issue -, which promises many more happy moments to come, is scheduled for completion in 2020.
The beginning of 2019 also saw the third part of the three-day master classes for master students in singing, held at the Leopold Mozart Centre of Augsburg University, started in 2017 and initiated by our Schumann Forum Markus Kreul, which are fully dedicated to Schumann’s song creations and his preferences for certain poets under the title of “SCHUMANN SYMPOSIUM I-III”, this time by including two film screenings, “Spring Symphony” and “Beloved Clara”. The Studium Musicale di Ateneo of Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore [Catholic University of the Sacred Heart] under the direction of Professor Enrico Reggiani and Martino Tosi has designed, as in previous years for Robert Schumann, a very beautiful cycle, lasting until May, in the form of workshops, lectures, lunch and gala concerts, themed “Rassegna Clara Schumann [Clara Schumann Festival]”.
All the events with a connection to the Schumanns which have already taken place at the beginning of 2019 or will still be performed over the remainder of the year 2019 ‒ the world premiere of Victoria Bond’s opera “Clara” at the Baden-Baden Easter Festival is fast approaching ‒ are, of course, numerous activities which focus on the celebratee Clara Schumann which do, however, not neglect Robert Schumann in any way, and, moreover, – irrespective of all the great activities of our Schumann Network members – similar events in other locations within Germany, but also in Strasbourg and Colmar, London, Milan, New York, Los Angeles, Iceland, and elsewhere should also be duly appreciated. Separate reviews of and outlooks for their institutions and activities in Zwickau, Dresden and Leipzig have been penned, as in previous years, by Thomas Synofzik, Anita Brückner and Gregor Nowak.
As usual, we also present the artists who are members of the Schumann Forum, newly established in 2011, whose numbers, to our great delight, we have been able to increase year after year. Last but not least, we have, of course, also listed the members and partners of the Schumann Network with their contact details.
Wishing you a lot of joy and inspiration when reading Schumann Journal 8, your
Ingrid Bodsch & Irmgard Knechtges-Obrecht