HomeProgram Guide
Background of Series
Photo Gallery
Program Guide

“The World of Robert Schumann”
  by John C. Tibbetts

A 15-part radio documentary


Program One
Storm and Stress: A Profile of the Romantic Age, 1780–1850. Social, political and artistic developments and themes in the Napoleonic age, the dawning of Romanticism. Commentators include Prof. Jacques Barzun (cultural historian), Prof. Albert Boime (art historian), Dr. Peter Ostwald (biographer), Prof. Ronald Taylor (biographer) and Robert Winter (historian).

Program Two
The Romantic Apprenticeship: Student Days, 1810–1830. Upbringing in Zwickau. Early conflicts between a career in law and music. Extended analyses of Schumann’s early piano music, including the Beethoven Variations and the Papillons, Opus 2, by conductor Wolfgang Sawallisch, pianists Claude Frank, Paul Badura-Skoda and Cyprian Katsaris. Commentary by historian Eric Sams and biographer Dr. Peter Ostwald.

Program Three
Florestan and Eusebius: A Case Study in Dual Personality. Schumann creates alter egos to express his creative and personal conflicts and divisions. Analyses of the piano cycles Kreisleriana, Opus 16, and the Davidsbuendler Dances, Opus 6, by pianists Anton Kuerti, Charles Rosen, Jean-Bernard Pommier, Ivo Pogorelich, Vladimir Feltsman and Philippe Bianconi. Psychoanalytical commentary by biographer Dr. Peter Ostwald and Dr. Ronald Taylor.

Program Four
The Band of David: Schumann As Music Critic, 1834–44. In Leipzig, Schumann organizes a “secret society,” the Davidsbund, and his own newspaper to promote new Romantic music in the 1830s. Profiles of fellow composers Mendelssohn, Chopin, Liszt and Berlioz. Analyses and commentary of Chopin’s La Ci Darem La Mano and commentary by pianist Garrick Ohlsson; the Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique by pianist Leslie Howard and professors Alan Walker, Kern Holoman, Hugh Macdonald and Catharine Reeve; the Franz Liszt Transcendental Etudes by pianist Leslie Howard and historian Prof. Alan Walker; the Mendelssohn Midsummer Night's Dream (pianist Charles Rosen) and historian Prof. Larry Todd. Music critics include Virgil Thomson and Martin Bookspan.

Program Five
The Courtship of Robert Schumann and Clara Wieck, 1835–1840. The celebrated love story runs into numerous difficulties, parental objections and legal tangles. Commentary by biographers Dr. Peter Ostwald and Dr. Nancy Reich; and musical analyses of Fantasie in C, Opus 17 by pianist Charles Rosen and Mary-Louise Boehm and historian Eric Sams; and the Clara Variations by pianist Anton Kuerti.

Program Six
Carnival: A Dance of Masks. Profile of “Biedermeier” Germany and the rise of popular dance music as a Romantic expression. The psychological, musical and metaphorical importance of the Carnival (Fasching) season to Schumann. Psychoanalytical analysis by biographer Dr. Peter Ostwald. Extended analysis of the Carnaval, Opus 9, by pianist Jose Feghali and historian Prof. Lawrence Kramer.

Program Seven
Love and Marriage: Art, Career and Family in the Schumann Household, 1840–1850. Robert and Clara struggle to work and raise children in the new middle-class Germany. Marital tensions, family responsibilities and professional ambitions force Schumann to attempt the popular forms of the symphony, opera and oratorio. Discussion by biographers Dr. Nancy Reich and Dr. Peter Ostwald and conductors David Zinman and Leonard Slatkin. Analyses of the Piano Concerto in A Minor by Andre-Michel Schub and Mischa Dichter; the Paradise and the Peri by John Eliot Gardiner.

Program Eight
The World of Childhood: The Cult of the Child in the Romantic Age. Schumann’s music about childhood draws upon the traditions of folklore and the fairy tales of Grimm, Andersen and E.T.A. Hoffmann, and his experiences with his own children. Analyses of the Scenes from Childhood, Opus 15, and the Album for the Young, Opus 68, by pianists Joerg Demus, Claude Frank, Gyorgy Sandor, Constance Keene; and the Liederalbum fur die Jugend by singer Elly Ameling. Special commentary by author/illustrator Maurice Sendak.

Program Nine
The Romantic Piano: A Symposium of Pianists. Schumann’s piano music is discussed and played by many eminent concert pianists, including Eugene Istomin, Joerg Demus, Peter Frankl, John Browning and Gyorgy Sandor. Extended analyses of the Toccata, Opus 7, and the Songs of the Dawn.

Program Ten
The Songs: A Symposium of Singers. The flowering of the Art Song Tradition in Germany in the songs of Schubert and Schumann. Commentary and analyses of the Dichterliebe and Frauenliebe-und-Leben cycles by performers Elly Ameling, Joerg Demus, Dalton Baldwin, Samuel Sanders, Jan De Gaetani and Gilbert Kalish; and historians Eric Sams and Rufus Hallmark. Special commentary by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.

Program Eleven
The Chamber Music: A Symposium of Players. From “Hausmusik” to modern recording practices. Commentary and analyses of the Violin sonatas, the three String Quartets, the three Trios, the Piano Quintet and the Piano Quartet by pianist Emanuel Ax, Paul Katz of the Cleveland String Quartet, members of the Juilliard String Quartet, members of the Tokyo String Quartet, violinists Peter Zazovsky and Christine Edinger, oboist Heinz Holliger, cellist Lynn Harrell and horn player Hermann Baumann.

Program Twelve
Schumann and Heine: The Romantic Irony. The poems of Heinrich Heine and the music of Robert Schumann were joined together in many of Schumann’s finest songs, including the two of the greatest song cycles in music history, the Liederkreis, Opus 24, and the Dichterliebe, Opus 48. The texts and the music bespeak what has been described as “The Romantic Irony,” i.e., the typically Romantic perception of the disparity between private dreams and ideals and worldly reality—and, in artistic terms, the uneasy and complex fusion of words and music. Song historians Rufus Hallmark and David Ferris and Heine biographer Roger F. Cook join distinguished art song/opera singer Thomas Hampson in a detailed examination of these songs and their texts.

Program Thirteen
The Haunted Forest: Romanticism and Nature. The Romanticists responded to new opportunities and venues of travel in the early 19th century and produced in their music, poems, novels, and paintings their sense of the glories and the mysteries of nature. Three works by Schumann are selected for commentary and analysis, the Waldscenen, or “Forest Scenes” for piano; the song cycle, Liederkreis, Opus 39, to texts by the German poet, Joseph von Eichendorff; and a choral work, Manfred, set to Lord Byron’s dramatic poem. Guest commentators include song historians Rufus Hallmark, Eric Sams, and David Ferris; and musicians Elly Ameling and Dalton Baldwin.

Program Fourteen
Breakdown: The Madness of Robert Schumann. The Romantic fascination with madness and creativity. The suicidal plunge into the Rhine in 1854, incarceration in the Endenich asylum. Commentary by biographers Dr. Peter Ostwald, John Daverio, Alan Walker, and Eric Sams; and scholars Margit McCorkle, John Macgregor and Albert Boime. Analyses of late works like the Cello Concerto by cellist Lynn Harrell, the Violin Concerto by violinist Thomas Zehetmaire, Manfred by conductor Gerd Albrecht and the Geister Variations by Peter Frankl and Anton Kuerti. New findings on the Endenich papers of Dr. Richarz by biographers Dr. Nancy Reich and Dr. John Daverio.

Program Fifteen
The Young Eagle: The Arrival of Johannes Brahms. Schumann discovers the young Brahms in 1853 and promotes his career. The controversies surrounding Brahms’ relationship with Clara Schumann are discussed by historian Styra Avins and biographers John Daverio and Dr. Nancy Reich. Analyses of Brahms’ Schumann Variations, the B-major Piano Trio, the First Piano Concerto and the Four Serious Songs by historians Prof. Robert Winter and Dr. Nancy Reich and pianist Eugene Istomin.


John C. Tibbetts is an Associate Professor in the Department of Theatre & Film at the University of Kansas, where he teaches courses in film history, aesthetic and media studies. He has broadcast for CBS television and the Voice of America, and he has written and illustrated ten books on music, literature, and film, including Dvorak in America (1993) and The Lyre of Light: Composers on Film (2004).


© John C. Tibbetts 2004 

back to top