The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music birthdays: Today, June 8, we celebrate composer Robert Schumann’s 200th and pianist Emanuel Ax’s 61st

June 8, 2010

By Jacob Stockinger

Today, June 8, 2010, is a two-fer: Composer Robert Schumann (below top, in a photo form around 1850) turns 200. And the Polish-born American pianist Emanuel Ax (below bottom) turns 61.

What better way to celebrate than with Emanuel Ax, who is a terrific Schumann interpreter,playing solo Schumann. But I couldn’t find on on YouTube. Too bad– that’s a joint anniversary missed. Let’s get on that Sony.

Anyway, here is one of the most moving of Ax’s many video performances and appearances on YouTube, in two works by Chopin in an usual and deeply moving setting:

As for Schumann, who championed Chopin by the way, here are just three of my many favorite compositions from so very many beautiful works he wrote:

The first is the slow, waltz-like movement from the Piano Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 47, performed by the Michelangelo Piano Quartet. It will break your heart:

And here, played by Volodos, is the second movement (dedicated to Chopin, by the way) of the “Kreisleriana” (coupled with the first), which is along with the third and final movement of the Fantasy, Op. 17, is his finest and most heartfelt works works for solo piano:

And here is one of my favorite Schumann songs “Ich grolle nicht” (I don’t complain) from the song cycle “Dichterliebe” (A Poets’ Loves) ” sung by the legendary German baritone Dietrich Fischer Dieskau:

What is your favorite recording by Emanuel Ax?

And what are some of your favorite Schumann works?

The Ear wants hear.

Happy Birthday to them and, because of them, to all of us.

Are we not lucky to live with such beauty?

Posted in Classical music

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