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<<  -- 5 --  Jennifer Paull    A SLEEPING BEAUTY


Although the Nazis managed to block one of her leads to the work's discovery, for them, this concerto slotted most conveniently into the position previously allocated to the now forbidden Mendelssohn Violin Concerto. The uncovering of an alternative, romantic work had been fortuitous indeed, and it was used to enhance National Socialist propaganda.

They prevented Yehudi Menuhin from giving its première in Germany. In fact, some eighty-four years after having been composed, the Schumann Violin Concerto received its first performance on 26 November 1937 with Georg Kulenkampff and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under Karl Böhm. The score had been arranged and edited by Georg Schünemann and Paul Hindemith. Kulenkampff 'revised' this version still further for his subsequent recording, cutting some of the ritornellos in the first movement.

The retrospective knowledge of Schumann's mental illness appears to have afforded several respected musicians, in both centuries, the erroneous impression that they had been summoned to clip Eusebius' wings. In today's musical world, enforced silence or editing of a work from a composer of Schumann's stature would be unthinkable. Would the knowledge of van Gogh's mental condition be sufficient excuse for an artist of today to insist and succeed in concealing and retouching one of his original canvasses?

It is customary to group Schumann with Mendelssohn and Chopin, all three having being born within eighteen months of one another and being best known for what has been termed 'refined romanticism'. How many compositions of the three would be accessible to us today if we retained but those works of the very greatest creation and technical merit? Undoubtedly, Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto (1844) is one such, but how happy we are that other compositions, falling short of some cold, judgmental censorship, are not discarded and forgotten. After all, absolute consistency in composition is the marking of a precious few.

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Copyright © 1 March 2002 Jennifer Paull, Vouvry, Switzerland





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