Piano Concerto (Schumann)

Piano Concerto (Schumann)

The "Piano Concerto in A minor", Op.54, is a famous Romantic concerto by Robert Schumann, completed in 1845.

Schumann had begun several piano concerti before this one. In 1828, he had begun one in E flat major; from 1829-31 he worked on one in F major, and in 1839, he wrote one movement of a concerto in D minor. None of these works were completed.

In 1841, Schumann wrote a fantasy for piano and orchestra, his "Phantasie". His pianist wife Clara urged him to complete this piece to a full piano concerto. In 1845 he added the intermezzo and finale to make the completed work. It turned out to be the only piano concerto Schumann wrote.

The work was premiered in Leipzig on 1 January 1846 with Clara playing the solo part. Ferdinand Hiller, the work's dedicatee, conducted.

The work may have been used as a model by Edvard Grieg in composing his own Piano Concerto, also in A minor. Grieg's concerto, like Schumann's, even employs a single powerful orchestral chord at its introduction before the piano's entrance.

Following this concerto, Schumann wrote two other pieces for piano and orchestra, the "Introduction and Allegro Appassionato in G major" (Op. 92), and the "Introduction and Allegro Concertante in D minor" (Op. 134).

Instrumentation

The concerto is scored for 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, timpani and strings.

tructure

The piece, as marked in the score, is in three movements:

#"Allegro affettuoso" (A minor)
#"Intermezzo: Andantino grazioso" (F major)
#"Allegro vivace" (A major)

There is no break between these last two movements ("attaca").

Schumann preferred that the movements be listed in concert programs as only two movements:

#"Allegro affettuoso"
#"Andantino and Rondo"

The three movement listing is the more common form used.

Allegro affettuoso

The piece starts with a energetic strike by strings and timpani, followed by a descendent attack by the piano. The introduction of the first theme is performed by the oboe along with wind instruments. Then the theme is given to the soloist.

Intermezzo

Allegro vivace

The piece begins with an interesting quote from The Flying Dutchman (Wagner).

Further reading

*Donald Francis Tovey, "Essays in Musical Analysis: Concertos" (London, 1936)
*Alfred Nieman, "The Concertos", in "Robert Schumann: The Man and his Music", edited by Alan Walker (London, 1972)
*Michael Steinberg, "The Concerto: A Listener's Guide", (Oxford, 1998)

External links

* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/classical/discover.shtml BBC Radio 3's "Discovering Music"] (includes a .ram file discussing the concerto)
*IMSLP2|id=Piano_Concerto%2C_Op._54_%28Schumann%2C_Robert%29|cname=Piano Concerto
* [http://www.carolinaclassical.com/schumann/pianoconcerto.m3u Audio of 1st movement] in MP3 format


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