The tangled lives of two great composers
A new series of free lectures at Gresham College lift the lid on life below the surface, writes Jane Wild
DID composer Robert Schumann ever know the extent of the relationship between his wife, the brilliant pianist Clara Schumann, and the great German composer Johannes Brahms?
As a piano student of Clara Wieck’s father, Robert Schumann had first met Clara when she was just 11, with the couple later falling passionately in love.
Her father bitterly opposed their match, citing Schumann’s history of depression and drinking, threatening to shoot Schumann if he saw his daughter again.
A fierce and protracted legal tussle ended in the lovers being granted the right to marry, which ironically was just a day before Clara turned 21.
Some years later, Clara met Brahms in Germany.
Their close relationship was to attract fevered gossip and rumour, with speculation that Schumann was unaware of its extent.
Meanwhile, after 14 years of marriage and eight children Schumann’s increasingly violent bouts of depression and attempted suicide led to him being committed to an asylum. He died two years later.
Clara remained close to Brahms until her death more than 40 years later, followed shortly by his just a few months afterwards.
Their turbulent lives are discussed in some of the new series of free public lectures at Gresham College, which recommence in September at the historic Barnard’s Inn Hall in Holborn. The free lectures are a tradition which began over 400 years ago.
Audiences will also have the opportunity to hear the Gresham Professors – who are leading figures in their fields – explore pressing topics such as globalisation and the clash between Islam and Christianity.
Dictators such as Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin are discussed in the history lectures and November sees a series of Dickens lectures.
Other events include one-day conferences, special lectures and workshops, chamber music concerts and Monday lunchtime talks.
Lectures are divided by subject: psychiatry, history, rhetoric, divinity, law, commerce, astronomy, physic (biological sciences) and geometry.
For more information, further listings, or to make reservations see www.gresham.ac.uk
|Parallel Lives – Brahms and Schumann: Chamber Concerts by quartet Chamber Domaine, preceded by short talks by director Thomas Kemp.
• Wednesday 13 September, 6pm Barnard’s Inn Hall.
Schumann and the Young Brahms. Reservations required.
• Wednesday 13 December, 6pm Barnard’s Inn Hall.
Brahms and Clara Schumann – More than Friendship? Reservations required.
• Wednesday 14 February, 6pm Barnard’s Inn Hall.
Brahms, Joachim and Clara Schumann – The Performers. Reservations required.
• Wednesday 25 April 2007, 6pm Barnard’s Inn Hall.
Brahms the Progressive – Schumann the Visionary