Robert Schumann: Piano Concerto in A minorListen

Schumann's Nerve

This concert was played:

  1. Piano Concerto
  2. Symphony No. 4
  1. Arvid Engegård conductor
  2. Jan Lisiecki piano

Schumann was a composer who had the ability to make keys sing, strings vibrate, and orchestras bubble with spring fantasies.

As a master of the sounds of his time, sensitive lyricist, and suffering, enlightened artist he hit the romantic nerve of his age, while at the same time achieving a timeless relevance and recognition. Schumann still hits a nerve in us all, and his romantic sound will reverberate in Oslo Concert Hall two evenings in a row when Arvid Engegård, the Oslo Philharmonic and outstanding soloists invite you to this celebration of his music.

The list of Robert Schumann’s (1810-1856) physical and psychological ailments is one of the longest in music history, and many of them affected his career. For instance, an injury to two of his fingers prevented him from becoming a concert pianist, and he therefore chose to become a composer. Might it have been his restless soul and suffering which left him so sensitive to the emotional outbursts of Romantic art? In any event, he died, depressed and disillusioned, in a psychiatric institution, at the age of forty-six.

Although he couldn’t play himself, Schumann’s compositions had their starting point in the piano. During his time and also later, he was primarily known for his wonderful works for piano, great and small, and one of the pillars in this respect is his Piano Concerto (1846), which served as a model of its kind. Grieg might have been influenced by this concerto, as the opening of his own famous piano concerto is written in the same key as Schumann’s!

At the time of writing the piano concerto, he had already added magnificent symphonies to his production of magical miniature pieces. The criticism of his swelling tones and singular orchestra blend arguably prevented a favourable reception of his orchestra music, but in the last decades it has been acknowledged that Schumann’s symphonies were not just important historical models for Brahms and others, but that they are also some of the highlights of the Romantic era, with their outstanding melodic and harmonic inventiveness and uniqueness of form.

Schumann’s great symphonic year was 1841, when he composed Symphony No. 1, Symphony No. 4 (revised 1851), and Ouverture, Scherzo and Finale (revised 1845).  Symphony No. 1 was given the nickname “Spring  Symphony” by the composer himself, and reveals a vibrant Schumann in free creation. The melodies are lighthearted, the sound powerful and the expression charaterised by an excess of energy and optimism. In Symphony No. 4, a forward-thinking Schumann is revealed as none of its movements follow the form conventions of the time. The whole work is played as one and echoes a “symphonic fantasy”, brimming with spontaneous ideas. The same can be said of Ouverture, Scherzo and Finale, which through its innovative form challenged ideas of what a symphony could be in 1841.

Arvid Engegård is the successful leader of the Engegård Quartet, as well as a noteworthy violinist and conductor. Here he is joined by two of today’s great soloists. The German cellist Daniel Müller-Schott (b.1976) is already established as a leader on his instrument. Polish-Canadian Jan Lisiecki (b. 1995) has disliked being referred to as a child prodigy since the age of fourteen, but this might well be an unavoidable description, for this twenty-two year old harbours a unique talent.

Welcome to our Schumann celebration!

(Text: Thomas Erma Møller; Translation (from Norwegian): Sarah Osa; In photo: Jan Lisiecki; Photo: Holger Hage)


  • Adult: 100 - 470 NOK
  • Senior: 100 - 375 NOK
  • Student: 100 - 235 NOK
  • Child: 100 NOK

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