The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: When I looked at German flowers, I heard the piano music of Robert Schumann. | August 31, 2012

By Jacob Stockinger

Yesterday I explained that I had not replied to so many kind and generous reader comments because I was recently out of the country on vacation for a two-week visit to family. But I did not say where.

Specifically, there I was in Germany, mostly in the area of Stuttgart, Pforzheim and Heidelberg.

And I kept hearing the opening melody of a relatively rarely heard piano piece by Robert Schumann: his “Blumenstuck’ or Flower Piece.

That’s no surprise, I suppose, in hindsight. There were beautiful, well-cared-for  flowers everywhere, bright colored and beautiful flowers in window boxes (below), in house gardens, in public parks, even in traffic roundabouts. I have seen similar sights in France and even in the city of Marquette, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. But nothing compared with Germany. The world could use more flowers.

Of course, there is a lot of classical music that evokes flowers, especially songs.

But I first heard the lovely and melodic Schumann piece during a performance by Vladimir Horowitz, who programmed it often. It reminds of the same composer’s charming “Arabesque,” Novelettes” and “Night Pieces” as well as some sections of his suites made up of the suite “Scenes of Childhood,” “Kreisleriana,” “Fantasy Pieces” and “Carnaval.”

Schumann (below, in a photo from 1850) was one of the composers with the greatest gift for evoking nature – the French composer Debussy also excelled – and when you see the flowers of his native land, you understand their influence on him. (You can also find other readings, including one by the great Russian pianist Sviatoslav Richter, on YouTube.)

So, here is the great Vladimir Horowitz playing Schumann’s “Blumenstuck” in New Haven in the 1960s, in an interpretation that was a bit more lively and engaging, to my taste, than a later one in the mid-1970s.

I hope you enjoy it with the same pleasure that both the music and its original inspiration gave me:

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3 Comments »


  1. Discover, enjoy, comment and PLEASE share.

    Comment by sonia sudak — January 19, 2013 @ 2:54 pm

  2. Once again, Jake, a wonderful post!

    Comment by R Anderson — August 31, 2012 @ 10:19 am

    • Thank you.
      That means a lot.
      Such comments are flowers for my blog.
      Best,
      Jake

      Comment by welltemperedear — September 1, 2012 @ 7:57 am


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