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<<  -- 3 --  Jennifer Paull    A SLEEPING BEAUTY


Although Joachim and Clara Schumann had originally been appreciative of Schumann's work, Joachim made the comment that he 'could not help feeling a certain fatigue' in the music. He had rehearsed it only once (January 1854) in Schumann's presence, in Hanover.

Four years earlier in 1850, Schumann had been appointed as musical director in Düsseldorf, the last position he was to hold. Sadly, it only appeared to worsen his condition. However, it was because of organisational problems, not rejection, that his Violin Concerto did not receive its first performance in that city.

Writing later about the Hanover rehearsal to a Schumann already confined to an asylum, Joachim recalled, 'Do you remember how you laughed when we were saying that the last movement sounded like a grandiose polonaise interpreted by Kociusko and Sobiesky?' Schumann had previously described his work as '... the reflection of a conscious seriousness from behind which, glimpses of happiness often pierce through'.

After his death, Joachim and Clara appear to have completely reviewed their opinion. It is worth noting that Joachim was a composer himself, and wrote three violin concertos. Could one claim that as a soloist, he became spoiled for choice by the sheer volume of great works dedicated to him over the years? Did he influence Clara, or did she sway him in their initial decision to keep the concerto hidden? Why did they never review or amend their shared point of view? Did even the young Joachim, a mere twenty-two years old at the time Schumann completed the work, imagine that it was his due to influence a composer considerably in the writing of the solo line? Did he esteem his own input and satisfaction to be necessary elements of the concerto's validity? This had obviously not been the case with Schumann, because of the latter's mental illness. Was it simply youth that made Joachim arrogant? Whatever their true reasons, Joachim and Clara maintained their unforgiving rejection all their lives.

During the late 1850s, a favourable Clara had tried to place the concerto for publication. At Schumann's death, however, she and Joachim sat together in negative judgement upon it. She now chose to withhold the work, deeming it to be musically inadequate. The Violin Concerto was thus sentenced to a century without publication from the date of Schumann's death (1856). Clara was to die forty years later in 1896 without ever having changed her mind. Joachim too, never relented during the twelve years that still remained to him.

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Copyright © 1 March 2002 Jennifer Paull, Vouvry, Switzerland





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