Robert Schumann is widely regarded as one of the greatest composers of the Romantic era. He was a German composer with many of his works linking to literature or having an auto-biographical influence.
He suffered a lifelong mental disorder manifesting as severe melancholic depressive episodes with recurring bouts of exaltation and delusion throughout his life.
In 1854 his health deteriorated and he had increased occurrences of auditory hallucinations. He heard angelic music and dreamt of the ghost of Schubert or Mendelssohn dictating spirit themes to him.
‘Ghost Variations’ was the last piano work he wrote with the principal theme of the work coming from these angelic hallucinations, which had increasingly become replaced by demonic visions. It was during the composition of this piece that he threw himself into the Rhine in an apparent suicide attempt. He was rescued by boat men and completed the work only hours before being committed to Dr. Franz Richarz’s sanatorium in Endenich, a quarter of Bonn, where he remained for two more years before dying at the age of 46.
A young Johannes Brahms was friends with Schumann and his wife Clara and wrote a series of sensitive variations of some of Schumann’s early melodies as a tribute.
Musica Viva Tasmania presented the concert by Daniel de Borah who will be playing Schumann’s ‘Ghost Variations’ and Brahm’s variations at the Hobart Town Hall , 8 September 2015. Daniel de Borah is one of Australia’s most inspiring young pianists, he will be playing these pieces as well as work by Haydn and Prokofiev.
Article published: 22 May 2015