Schumann Trilogy

A consortium of orchestras, including The Idyllwild Arts Academy Orchestra, the Salt Lake Symphony, the Boise Philharmonic, the Mansfield Symphony and the University of Utah Philharmonia have commissioned the Schumann Trilogy to celebrate the bicentennial of Robert Schumann’s birth in 2010.  The trilogy will be premiered at the REDCAT Theater in Los Angeles by the Idyllwild Arts Academy Orchestra, Peter Askim, Music Director on May 8th, 2010.

Fantasiestücke
Fantasiestücke is an orchestral fantasy on the enigmatic figure of Robert Schumann – a brilliantly gifted composer and writer who ascended to the pinnacle of the music world, only to end his days in an insane asylum. The work starts with a favorite form of Schumann’s – a set of linked character pieces –gradually allowing the cracks between the pieces to expand and overwhelm the narrative. The piece ends with chilling evocation of the composer’s final paralysis.

Cool Night
While still in his twenties, Robert Schumann became a very influential music critic. In his writings, he invented several characters, through whom he expressed differing perspectives on artistic issues of the day. Chief among these fictional figures were Florestan and Eusebius. Florestan was impetuous, passionate, and forward-looking; Eusebius was a quiet, introspective dreamer.

Florestan and Eusebius
While still in his twenties, Robert Schumann became a very influential music critic. In his writings, he invented several characters, through whom he expressed differing perspectives on artistic issues of the day. Chief among these fictional figures were Florestan and Eusebius. Florestan was impetuous, passionate, and forward-looking; Eusebius was a quiet, introspective, dreamer.

Florestan and Eusebius imagines these two characters beside Schumann’s deathbed, trying to make sense of their creator’s madness and decline. It concludes with a setting of a haunting elegy by Heinrich Heine, one of Schumann’s favorite poets, but Heine’s images have been altered through the prism of the Florestan-Eusebius perspective.

The part of Florestan is portrayed by a combination of tenor and actor. The part of Eusebius is sung by an otherworldly trio of soprano, mezzo and alto.

Genealogie
Robert and Clara Schumann had eight children. Genealogie traces their fates, interweaving texts from Robert and Clara’s Marriage Diary, a 1921 New York Times article, and the memoirs of their seventh child, Eugenie Schumann, in a touching study on the relationship between public and private lives.

One another, commented on visitors and concerts, and kept a running dialogue on the delights and challenges of married life. The Schumanns’ marriage holds particular lessons for couples in the twenty-first century, as Robert and Clara coped with many of the same issues familiar to two-income families today. Marriage Diary takes its cue from this infamous book: a dialogue for mezzo, tenor and orchestra, it is an amusing evocation of the complications, misunderstandings, and hard-won tenderness of 19th-century newlyweds.

 


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Lawrence Dillon
 


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