One of the main stereotypes about Romantic composers is the belief that they created only when they were inspired. Notes led by the godly spark poured into their scores. Nothing could be further from the truth. The authors of the Romantic era had their daily routines, little different from an official or an accountant. Tchaikovsky's "Hamlet", Schumann's Cello Concerto, and Schönberg's composition (from before he had decided to demolish existing tonal music) are all included in the program.
The stereotype of the inspired Romantic artist at first glance fitted very well to the character of Pyotr Tchaikovsky, who, according to Alfred Einstein, was typical for the epoch’s emotional exhibitionism (A. Einstein, Music in the Romantic Era). The composer was often accompanied by mood swings, melancholy, depression, he even admitting to insanity in the context of his decision to get married (he writes about it in a letter to his brother Anatoly on February 18, 1878). However, a less stressed feature of the composer is his diligence. Indeed, the list of his works - like in the case of Mozart, to whom he dedicated his Mozartian suite - is impressive. His daily routine began in the morning. At 9:30 he sat down to compose, which - with a break for a walk and a meal - lasted until the evening. Then he had e a glass of something stronger and played, for example, cards, which, he claimed, kept him in good shape. He went down in history as the author of great symphonic works, among which Shakespeare's dramatic works, such as Romeo and Juliet Overture and Hamlet Fantasy Overture, are prominent. We owe the story of the Danish prince told by the sound of music, was ordered by French actor Lucien Guitry, 1860-1925. The play was not staged (it was possible the second time), but Tchaikovsky decided to finish the work in the form of a concerto overture. This is by no means a work adapted to the stage action. As in the Romeo and Juliet overture, the composer chose from the drama some themes, feelings and characters, giving them a musical identity. And so the beginning of the overture draws the characters of Hamlet and Elsinore even before the appearance of the ghost of the father, then we hear the scherzando referring to Polonius and the adagio symbolizing Ophelia. In the final part of the work, the composer draws dramatic situations after seeing the father's spirit, Hamlet's death, and the arrival of the new king - Fortinbras.
To Robert Schumann (1810-1856), the stereotype of an inspired artist fits well because he actually struggled with serious psychological problems. But first and foremost, he was extremely hard-working, and not only as far as music is concerned. He was famous for full of revier eloquence abouts music, to which he subjected the works of many composers of his epoch, just to mention his historic phrase about Chopin: Gentlemen, hats off, here is the genius! (Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung, 7 December 1831). Schumann's music is filled with literature, poetry, philosophy, and even exotic themes (Persian mythology in the oratorio “Paradise and the Peri").
Today it is known that he was fascinated with the idea of virtuosity. His teacher was Friedrich Wieck (future father-in-law), who saw him as a virtuoso. However, forcible piano exercises and experiments with the loading of the fourth and fifth fingers led to the paralysis of the artist's right hand. The virtuoso career was over. These events - like many of the artist's personal life - had had a significant impact on his art.
Schumann concentrated on composing, where instead of dazzling with instrumental bravado, he began to deepen the emotional expression of his compositions. One of the results of such a creative attitude is the Cello Concerto in A minor Op. 129 (1850). As for those times, the piece has an experimental structure i.e. three consecutive parts without any breaks. In the concert are used mainly singing abilities of the instrument are mostly used in this concerto, while virtuoso fragments appear occasionally. But they are subordinate to poetic narrative, not an expression of instrumental play. The orchestral part is also interesting, which is an interesting partner for the soloist, and not a modest accompaniment, as it was the case in concerts of the so-called brilliant type. It is known that Schumann was impressed by Nicolo Paganini's play, but in his compositions he used virtuosity - to apply here the words of the musicologist Carl Dahlhaus - in the service of the romantic revolution. The concerto will be performed by a native of Austria, but coming from a Persian family, Kian Soltani. Despite his young age, his list of awards at prestigious competitions is impressive. At the age of 12 he was noticed by the legendary Ivan Monighetti, with whom he studied at the Academy in Basel for 11 years.
While Tchaikovsky and Schumann in the sweat of their brows had forged a large edifice of romantic music, the diligence of the Austrian composer Arnold Schönberg (1874-1951) resulted in the destruction of that building. His early works, such as "Verklärte Nacht" (Lightened Night) or the poem "Pélleas und Melisande" (according to Maurice Maeterlinck's play), still belong to the aesthetics of Romantic music. But at the turn of the twentieth century, Schönberg, together with Alban Berg and Anton Webern, proposed a new sound system destroying the one used so far - major-minor. In this way, Schönberg, Berg and Webern opened the door for further experiments of Luigi Nono and Pierre Boulez. The poem "Pélleas und Melisande" is, however, still romantic music, a tale painted of the unfortunate love of the main characters. Here Melisande marries Golaud, who found her abandoned by a brook in the woods. Melisande marries him, but soon realizes that she loves Golaud's brother Pélleas. Then the heroes die either in a duel or of despair.
Tchaikovsky, Schumann and Schoenberg - work titans. Anyway, as Pyotr Ilyich used to say, inspiration comes ... to the hard-working people.
Mikołaj Rykowski PhD
Musicologist and clarinetist, doctorate, and associate at the Department Music Theory at the Paderewski Academy of Music in Poznań. Author of a book and numerous articles devoted to the phenomenon of Harmoniemusik - the 18th-century practice of brass bands. Co-author of the scripts "Speaking concerts" and author of the spoken introductions to philharmonic concerts in Szczecin, Poznań, Bydgoszcz and Łódź.