Clara Schumann – 19th Century pioneer
It was Tuesday, May 20 1856, and there was an air of anticipation at the Philharmonic Hall.
Because alongside vocal soloists Miss Sherrington and Herr Rokitansky, that evening’s Liverpool Philharmonic Society programme also included the woman the Liverpool Mail heralded as “the first female pianiste of the day and one of the most romantic, clever and devoted females of her age” – Madame Clara Schumann.
Find out what made Clara so special in this examination of her life and legacy.
Returning to that May evening in 1856, if the audience were hoping to hear Schumann perform her own piano concerto – completed when the former child prodigy Clara Wieck was 15 – they would have been disappointed.
Instead, her repertoire encompassed Beethoven’s Concerto in E flat, Mendelssohn’s Presto Scherzando in F minor and two pieces by her husband Robert.
Here are nine of Clara’s works the Philharmonic audience might have enjoyed.
While Schumann may never have played her own concerto at the Philharmonic Hall, this week it will be performed, and by another talented young woman.
The eldest of the celebrated family of exceptional young musicians, pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason returns to Hope Street to complete her tenure as the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic’s Young Artist in Residence.
Aptly, the 25-year-old’s first solo recording Romance included Clara Schumann’s Piano Concerto, recorded at the Friary in Everton with none other than the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.
As the charismatic Kanneh-Mason explains:
“The most inspirational thing for me about Clara Schumann is her strength. She was a woman living 200 years ago and she managed to sustain an incredibly long concert career. She also raised seven children. Coming from a family of seven myself I think that’s really, really impressive and I’m honoured to play her music.”
Could Clara have been the Beyoncé of her day? Here Kanneh-Mason makes the case.
More information on Isata Kanneh-Mason here.
Sir Malcolm Arnold
When Malcolm Arnold’s publisher asked him to write something like Dvořák’s Slavonic Dances, the young composer obliged with two sets of his own dances inspired by English country folk tunes.
The second set was premiered in a Henry Wood Promenade Concert in 1952 – and the eagle-eared may recognise its opening movement from long-running BBC programme What the Papers Say.
October sees the centenary of the birth of Arnold, son of a prosperous Northampton shoe manufacturer and talented pianist.
Music was a central part of Arnold’s life from a young age. The composer himself said: "Music is the social act of communication among people, a gesture of friendship, the strongest there is."
But despite his personal difficulties, he left the world with a rich range of melodic work – including a vast catalogue of glorious film music from the drama of Oscar-winning The Bridge on the River Kwai..
...to the jaunty Belles of St Trinian’s.
Did you know? In 1969, Arnold conducted a live recording of Jon Lord’s Concerto for Group and Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall involving the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Deep Purple.