Composer of the Week: Clara Schumann and Her Circle

Clara and Liszt

Episode 4 Clara and Liszt



Today, Donald Macleod explores Clara Schumann's friendship with Franz Liszt - a man and musician she at first idolised but came to loathe. `Distintissimo! Most distinguished!' That's how the 19th-century piano superstar Franz Liszt described Clara Schumann after seeing her play in Vienna in 1838. And Clara, like most people, was absolutely bowled over by Liszt `He cannot be compared to any other player - he is absolutely unique', she wrote in her diary. But as a composer, she gradually came to detest him, and by the time of his death she could write that `his compositions lack those very qualities which he possessed as a virtuoso; they are trivial and tedious and will certainly soon disappear from the world in the wake of his passing.' Liszt, by contrast, paid Clara the compliment, late in life, of transcribing three of her songs for solo piano. Clara Schumann: Loreley. Barbara Bonney (soprano), Vladimir Ashkenazy (piano). Schubert trans Liszt: Gretchen am Spinnrade (D118 ), S558 No 8. Yuja Wang (piano). Clara Schumann: Variations de concert pour le pianoforte sur la Cavatine du Pirate de Bellini, Op 8. Suzanne Grutzmann (piano). Clara Schumann: Impromptu in G, Op 9 (Souvenir de Vienne). Jozef de Beenhouwer (piano). Liszt: Grandes variations de concert Hexameron sur un thème des Puritains by Bellini, S654. Genova & Dimitrov (piano duo). Clara Schumann trans Liszt: Warum willst du andere fragen, Op 12 No 3; Ich hab in deinem Auge, Op 13 No 5; Geheimes Flüstern, Op 23 No 3. Leslie Howard (piano).

Cast & Crew

Presenter Donald Macleod
Producer Chris Barstow