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Schumann, Clara (née Wieck) (1819-1896)

Variations de Concert

SKU:FE013-EN

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General Information

Composer: Clara Schumann née Wieck

Title of the Publication: Variations de Concert

Opus: 8

Composition Year: 1837

Edition Type: Urtext

Edition Number: FE012

Editor: Martijn Vromans

Languages of the Text: English, German, French, and Spanish

Paper: A4 Clairefontaine 120 gsm cream paper

Binding: Black steel wire binding

Pages/Format: Total 24 pages (1 full colour portrait, 3 pages introduction, 1 page critical commentary, 18 pages music)

Weight: 150 g

Difficulty Level: 10/10

Also Included In:

  • FD013 (download)
  • FE007 (anthology)
  • FD007 (anthology download)

Description

The Variations de Concert stand apart from Clara Schumann’s entire oeuvre. This work is a bravura piece, crafted for the purpose of astonishing its audience. She showcases a level of virtuosity, complexity, and technical skill comparable to the young Franz Liszt’s, a few years earlier. Its technical demands are exceptional, surpassing even the extraordinary standards that prevailed in the 1830s.

Even so, the pieces are musically meaningful. The lengthy introduction and the approach to theme feature hallmark Schumann qualities: a nuanced application of harmony and polyphony to make the material distinctly their own. The variations each present a distinct technical challenge. The first variation is a study in double notes, the second in arpeggios and leaps, while the third, in terms of texture and atmosphere, is derived from Etude No. III of Robert Schumann’s Etudes Symphoniques, published three years earlier. The Schumanns often engaged in this exchange of ideas, notably in the lead-up to their marriage, as a means of musical communication amid the courtship restrictions enforced by Clara’s father, Friedrich. Therefore, it is no coincidence that this Variation and Schumann’s Etude both carry the number III.

After the third variation comes an Adagio quasi Fantasia, consisting of 15 bars filled with arpeggios. The subsequent fourth variation is bound to intimidate many pianists with its wide leaps at a fast tempo. Clara’s dominance on the piano, while she was merely 18, must have been truly astounding.

About the Music

Technical Sovereignty: Chopin, Liszt, Alkan, Henselt, Thalberg, and Mendelssohn all produced virtuoso piano compositions, yet the techniques employed by Clara Schumann are unique, original to her, and not found in the works of any other composer. Within Clara Schumann’s own oeuvre, no work can be found that matches this level of technical virtuosity.

Historical Significance: It has long been assumed that Liszt and Thalberg were the premier pianists of the 19th century. Sometimes, an additional, more exotic name joins that roster, like Alkan, De Méreaux, or Henselt. The absence of Clara Schumann’s name from that list is unfathomable. This piece sheds light on the technical supremacy she must have possessed to perform it, even though she was only 18 years old.

About the Composer

Even in the 19th century, a period brimming with some of the greatest pianists to ever grace the stage, Clara Schumann stands uniquely tall as perhaps the foremost among them. Often merely cast as the muse of her husband, Robert Schumann, she delivered unparalleled achievements, not just as a trailblazing pianist but also as a composer. From the moment she published her Opus 2 at the very early age of 12, she began to leave behind a compositional legacy. These works, while early, are by no means immature: they are the creations of a fully-fledged composer, marked by a remarkable emotional richness and playful virtuosity.

Contents

  • Portrait
  • Introduction (English, German, French or Spanish)
  • Variations de Concert, Op. 8
  • Critical Commentary (English, German, French or Spanish)
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  • Premium Editions

    Our paper editions are pleasing to the eye: gorgeous and heavy cream paper produced in an environmentally friendly manner. We print our albums ourselves and use pigmented ink instead of toner. Due to the ink soaking into the paper, a beautiful print is created. All our albums are bound with a steel binding spine, so the albums last a long time and stand perfectly flat on the piano.