Schumann string quartets -
'I could wish indeed that the music had puzzled them more.'
Schumann's three string quartets were completed in summer 1842 between two
significant events, the one domestic, the other political. Their child Marie
cut her first tooth, and they were received at Königswart Castle by
Prince Metternich, who spoke to them mainly about Donizetti (an Austrian
composer after all, having been born at Bergamo). Donizetti, said Metternich,
had already completed seventy-six operas; Schumann was impressed by the tone
of Metternich's voice and felt hypnotised by 'the halo that hovers over so
celebrated a head'.
On 12 September the Schumanns celebrated their second wedding anniversary,
and the next day he presented her with the completed quartets and had them
performed that evening. She was enchanted: 'I cannot say anything about the
quartets except that they delighted me in even the finest detail. Everything
there is new, along with being clear, well worked out, and always appropriate
for a quartet.' She felt he deserved a thousand kisses.
Copyright © 11 February 2004
Robert Anderson, London UK