If Google had existed in the early 1800s, Clara Schumann (née Wieck) would likely have been a more popular search term than her husband Robert. Revered by the likes of Goethe, Paganini, Chopin, Liszt, Mendelssohn, and Brahms, Clara mounted a lifelong career as teacher, composer, editor, and performer in the face of great difficulties—as a child and, later, during her marriage to Robert, whose battle with mental illness marked their final years together.
Clara is one of the distinguished Leipzig residents spotlighted in this program by the city’s fabled Gewandhausorchester. In 1835, aged just 15, the Leipzig-born prodigy premiered her Piano Concerto, profound and romantic, with the very same orchestra under Felix Mendelssohn. Latvian pianist Lauma Skride performs the concerto with finesse and facility alongside the evergreen ensemble, led today by Kapellmeister Andris Nelsons.
A century before Clara’s time, Leipzig was the longtime home of J.S. Bach, inspiring the nickname in Betsy Jolas’s Letters from Bachville—in its world premiere here—which evokes some of the master’s most iconic melodies: listen for hints of the Brandenburg Concertos and the perennially beloved Badinerie for flute! Finally, from a happy time in Robert Schumann’s life just after his marriage to Clara, his “Spring” Symphony No. 1—also premiered by the Gewandhausorchester in 1841—closes the program.
Festival de Verbier 2017