Music Matters: Yoav Talmi at the Morrin Centre...

Maestro's talk on Schumann's 2nd Symphony / November 15 2009, at 8 p.m.

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My Special Affinity with Schumann’s Music

Yoav Talmi

Since my student years, I kept hearing and reading that Schumann was a weak orchestral composer (!). While studying his four symphonies – falling in love with each one of them, it became clear to me that I am facing one of the greatest creative composers of the Romantic era. Yet, so many musicologists and music critics fail to comprehend his genius and individual musical language. Luckily, almost all the great conductors in past and present recognized Schumann’s enormous magnitude, performed his symphonies often and recorded it for posterity: from Mahler, Furtwängler, Klemperer, Bruno Walter and Toscanini – to Karajan, Bernstein, Szell, Solti, Kubelic and Haitink – to name but a few! 

I believe that more than any other composer, Schumann is the pure personification of the true Romantic ideals. Unfortunately he was compelled to struggle throughout his creative life with depression, hallucinations and insanity. In his writings – both as a known music critic and as a composer, he gave himself several different personalities: “Florestan” – the impulsive and impetuous, “Eusebius” - the feminine dreamer, and “Raro” – the rationalist. All three characters could be found in his writing: a unique combination of impulsive, dreamy and coherent music. 

There is no question in my mind that his four symphonies contain some of the most profound, spontaneous and joyful music ever written! Yet, his critics fall short of facing the complexity and originality in Schumann's orchestral music.  They claim that Schumann was “an amateur who could neither orchestrate nor bring the poetry of his piano and vocal works into large scale orchestral forms”. I am therefore glad that despite this criticism, Schumann’s symphonies enjoy today the popularity they deserve. Schumann completed his four symphonies during a decade – from 1841 (when he was 31 years old) to 1852. He thought that after Beethoven’s death, he and his fellow generation are “obligated to create the Ideal of a modern Symphony according to a new standard”. He regarded most of the symphonic works of his contemporaries to be “pale imitations of Beethoven” (except of Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique which Schumann greatly appreciated). 

If performed by great artists who understand the extraordinary originality of these scores, pay careful attention to Schumann’s Metronome markings and feel the passion and love expressed in every page of these scores, Schumann’s symphonies equal in greatness to those of his contemporaries – Mendelssohn, Schubert and Brahms.  

On the occasion of his 200 years death anniversary, I am grateful for the opportunity to share with our audiences - throughout our series ‘Hommage a Schumann’ - the performances of his immortal four symphonies. 

You are cordially invited to an evening with Yoav Talmi, artistic director of the OSQ.  This talented maestro will give a talk on the works of Schumann, focusing on the 2nd Symphony, which will be performed by the OSQ on November 18th at the Grand Théâtre. 

Join us on Sunday, November 15 2009, at 8 p.m. at the Morrin Centre, for this unique lecture! 

* Free for ticket holders, or $8 at the door ($5 for members)

* Conference held in English

* Reserve today ! (418) 694-9147  [email protected]