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Current time:0:00Total duration:9:25

Robert Schumann: Symphony No. 3, "Rhenish". Analysis by Gerard Schwarz (part 1)

Video transcript

robert schumann's life wasn't easy from an early age he had this depression and he had occasional voices and there were moments throughout his life from from his 20s on that he felt this way and he often thought of committing suicide it shows in his music too especially the later music some of it's very inconsistent Schumann was looking towards becoming music director for an orchestra he received the invitation to be the music director in Dusseldorf he had already composed two symphonies he had done the first version of what became the fourth symphony and now he's working on the third symphony the order of symphonies is always interested in for example Beethoven's v piano concertos the first one was written second and the second was written first but they were published in the opposite way same thing with Schumann symphonies his fourth symphony was written first then the third but then he revised the fourth so the fourth was published after the third and so on Juma's third symphony is called the Rhenish or the Rhine symphony the Rhine was important in Schumann's life on many levels in fact he tried to kill himself by throwing himself into the Rhine the Rhenish symphony was written during his time in Dusseldorf and inspired by a trip to the Cologne Cathedral at that time it wasn't finished but it was magnificent and that had a tremendous impact on them and this symphony of course was to a large extent inspired by a trip that Clara and Robert made in 1850 on the Rhine the first movement has one of those long extended gorgeous Schumann melodies it is so beautiful the opposite of the Beethoven fifth motive it goes on it has a great deal of rhythmic ambiguity which means even though it may be written in three sometimes it sounds like it's played in groups of twos and this ambiguity of rhythm made it actually more interesting and eventually of course it would always fit into place Mozart did this Beethoven did this they all of it but shumai did it in a remarkable way and this melody just soars so beautifully and it's repeated towards the end of the melody he has this a little coda which becomes important as we go later on into the movement after that he repeats the same material again and this time he has the horns soaring in the middle of the orchestra the second theme is wistful and light and soft its first stated by the woodwinds and then the strings then the woodwinds join them again it goes back to the initial first theme this is a typical Sonata Allegro form we've talked about it before the exposition the first theme the contrasting second theme and then sometimes that whole section is repeated in Schumann's case it isn't and then he moves to the development section and sometimes people call it a fantasy because the composer's are using their imagination and what Schumann does is he uses all the themes in constantly evolving wave as glorious as the beginning is and as heroic as it sounds during this development section it is at times very dark and somewhat uncertain then of course he inserts the initial material and at one point he has this great section for the horns where the orchestra makes a crescendo and then it disappears and the strings are playing fast tremolo pianissimo and the horns playing fortissimo play this melody while everybody's in the background then the trumpet joins in and the horn joins in and that boom we're into the recapitulation not too similar from Beethoven even though this is a very quick sada Allegro form the coda is quite extended and Schumann does a tremendous amount of contrast especially dynamically with a theme being played fourth day and then a quick response piano and it ends in a very heroic nature again with the horns and trumpets leading the orchestra you