Brahms writing to Clara Schumann - Heart-breaking quotations from the great - Classic FM
The relationship between the pianist and composer Clara Schumann and the composers Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms has for a century been an. However we will never be completely sure, since they destroyed most of their letters to each other. Robert Schumann was one of Brahms' best friends, as was. One of the greatest mysteries in music history is the relationship between Brahms and composer Robert Schumann's wife, Clara. So, did they?.
In later years Brahms told an acquaintance that he had never compromised a respectable woman, and for him the definition of a respectable woman was Clara. He once described the aged Clara to a friend thus: Brahms was famously devoted to prostitutes; for his purposes, he seemed to relegate sex to the professional variety. During their marriage Clara and Robert had maintained a kind of shorthand sexual diary, for medical reasons, which revealed that they were startlingly active throughout.
Recall the seven children. And some years later Clara had a brief, unhappy affair with Theodor Kirchner, one of Brahms's best friends. The latter business did not emerge until recent years, and as far as we know Brahms never suspected. At one point he wrote to Clara that Kirchner was talking about killing himself.
Never mind, Clara replied, he says that all the time.
- Brahms writing to Clara Schumann
- The story behind the music
- Johannes Brahms
We may presume this was after the affair. In short, it was all a splendid mess. What seems to have motivated the rest of Brahms's life, romantic and otherwise, was no more mess. He kept to a life of composing and performing, fought with his friends, tried with imperfect success to keep women at bay, and fled real-life drama whenever it appeared.
But the real mess, and a big one, lay inside Brahms himself, in his relations to women and to emotional life in general.
The chaos, the divided nature, likely started at a vulnerable time. At age 13, Brahms was already a phenomenon, with his teachers predicting great things. His parents were supportive, but they were also limited and naive. At some point money was short, so the boy was sent to earn his keep playing piano in some waterfront establishments where his father had worked in his own youth.
Maybe these places had been something of a lark to the father.
They were not to Brahms. Popular with sailors, these joints combined the services of bar, restaurant, dance hall and brothel. Brahms was delicately pretty and bad things happened to him in the bars. Mostly he only hinted at what they were to Clara among othersbut for the rest of his life he talked about it, with rage and anguish and sometimes with a fierce pride, for having survived.
["The piano trio" Robert Schumann, Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms].
It steeled him, he said. And this is true. Brahms reached maturity tough as nails. He said that these experiences ruined women for him. One night, in his cups, he broke up a party by branding all women with a word so sordid that nobody would repeat it. To the friend delegated to sober him up in the park, Brahms raved: You expect that of a man cursed with a childhood like mine.
Brahms was more so. He relegated sexuality to prostitutes, joked constantly about lady musicians. One woman recalled watching him at a party, stroking his moustache and leering at the girls "as a greedy boy stares at jam tartlets".
Yet if you happened to be female and happened to have talent, there was nobody you would rather have in your corner than Brahms. To a number of women performers he gave extravagantly of his time and money and influence. One was the teenage violinist Marie Soldat, whom he sent off to study with his friend Joachim. When at 20 Soldat made a sensation in Vienna with his Violin Concerto, Brahms was heard shouting from the balcony: How did he squire her?
Brahms And Clara Schumann | The story behind the music - tribunedigital-baltimoresun
He took her to Vienna's Prater fun fair for the merry-go-round and puppet show. So Brahms was paradoxically divided about women, as he was about many things. He fell in love periodically after Clara, usually with singers. Laredo started giving this type of recital, which mixes performance with anecdotes about the composers' lives, at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art in Two decades later, she still finds these evenings rewarding for herself and the audience.
The point of these recitals is to make the composers' lives more personal and relevant for the audience. The relationships among members of this group of musical geniuses form a rich and intricate web: Mendelssohn was a lifelong friend of the Schumanns and conducted first performances of works by both husband and wife.
Robert Schumann, besides being the most romantic of his generation of German composers, was also a journalist who championed Chopin and Brahms long before either achieved much fame. And Robert and Clara were one of the most famous married couples of their day.
Laredo's program will explore their relationship, which had a difficult beginning and a tragic ending. Clara's father vehemently opposed the match, but the couple defied his wishes and married anyway. Years later, Robert went insane and died in a lunatic asylum. It's perhaps not surprising that the intensity of the Schumanns' relationship is reflected in Robert's compositions.
Friday's concert will feature a prime example of such soul-painting, the eight "Fantasy Pieces," Op.
Regarding the last piece of the set, titled, "End of the Song," Robert wrote to Clara: Although Clara Schumann always has been known more as a pianist than composer, Laredo defends her pieces. But perhaps no relationship has generated as much speculation and debate as the exact nature of the bond between Brahms and Clara Schumann, who lived together after Robert Schumann entered the asylum. Exhibit A Clara Schumann and Brahms were intimate friends for 40 years, Laredo said, and it's only logical to conclude that they consummated their relationship at some point.
As evidence of the intensity of their attachment, she cites a letter that Clara Schumann wrote to her friend Joseph Joachim after a separation from Brahms.