Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
The World's Greatest Composer


Music has been a major part of my life, and I have  wide and varied tastes, frequently perturbing people by following Beethoven with The Kinks.
During my formative years, the late 1950's and 1960's was the golden age of pop, and I lapped it all up. I also collected records from the dawn of recording to the (then) present, and if I enjoyed it, didn't care whether it was pop, dance music, classical or radiophonic (R.I.P Delia Derbyshire). But classical music was my number one passion, and it became clear that one composer  was becoming my favourite - Schumann
As I have aged, Schumann's music has come to mean more to me than all the other composers put together.

Composers come in and out of fashion - just think of Vivaldi - and although he has never suffered the obscurity of some others, Schumann is no exception. Fifty years ago, his orchestral music in particular was out of fashion. It was hard to find recordings, and when you did they had sleeve notes almost apologising for the flawed music - apparently, Schumann couldn't invent a tune, develop it or orchestrate it. All my instincts told me this was wrong; whoever was writing the notes didn't understand what Schumann was doing. Tunes and development are secondary to raw emotion.  You don't just listen to Schumann, you experience what he was feeling and let wave after wave  just flow over you. It isn't instant music; it takes many hearings to start understanding what's going on, but the obverse is that is that even after you've heard something hundreds of times every listening reveals some new nuance you hadn't noticed before. Luckily, during the last twenty years there has been something of a Schumann revival, and sympathetic recordings are now more common.

There are many biographies of Schumann available on the web, and in general  I'm not going to bore you with that here. I don't claim my choices are a balanced selection of all Schumann's music.  They're simply those that I love and which have enhanced my life.  I hope you enjoy them.<


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A note about copyright and the selections

Bill Hayles 2010