Spirit of the Romantics

Sunday, January 25, 2004, 3:00 pm • The Pierce House, Lincoln

Trio in Eb Major for flute, cello, and pianoforte, op. 63     Ferdinand Ries 
  Allegro    (1784-1838)
  Rondo (Allegro)

Davidsbündlertänze, op. 6    Robert Schumann
Book 1:    (1810-1856)
  Lebhaft                        F. und E.
  Innig                            E.
  Mit Humor                    F.
  Ungeduldig                    F.                
  Einfach                        E.
  Sehr rasch und in sich hinein            F.
  Nicht schnell. Mit äußerst starker Empfindung    E.
  Frisch                        F.
Book 2:
  Balladenmäßig — sehr rasch             F.
  Einfach                    E.
  Mit Humor                    F.
  Wild und lustig                F. und E.
  Zart und zingend                E.
  Frisch                        F. und E.
  Mit gutem Humor                
  Wie aus der Ferne                F. und E.
  Nicht schnell    

Trio in G Minor for flute, cello, and pianoforte, op. 63 (J 259)    Carl Maria von Weber 
  Allegro moderato    (1786-1826)
  Scherzo (Allegro vivace)
  Schäfers Klage (Andante espressivo)
  Finale (Allegro0

Suzanne Stumpf, flute
Daniel Ryan, cello
Michael Bahmann, pianoforte

flute by an anonymous Viennese maker, c. 1820; cello by an anonymous Belgian maker, c. 1700
pianoforte by Peter Rosenberger, Vienna, 1845

Program notes

One of the most important features of nineteenth-century musical Romanticism is the predominance of the pianoforte in chamber music repertoire. The piano has been called the instrument of Romanticism, a style which, particularly in the aesthetic of German composers, was viewed as a language of feeling and unbridled emotional expression. While undergoing a plethora of design changes reflecting differing national styles and musical demands throughout the century, the pianoforte remained integral to the musical development of many nineteenth-century composers, including those presented on this afternoon’s performance.

Ferdinand Ries began his musical studies in Bonn on the violin and pianoforte under his father, and on the cello with Bernhard Romberg. He spent his early career traveling in search of musical appointments, spending 1802-1804 in Vienna where he studied with Beethoven. After much subsequent travel, Ries at last achieved success in London, where he made his home from 1813 to 1824. There he became a prolific and sought after composer, performer, and teacher. He clearly knew how to write in a style that was pleasing to the English public, as is demonstrated in his op. 63 trio. This brief work’s charm and originality are evident at the outset, with its enigmatic dominant seventh chord and deceptive cadence in the first two measures creating a sense of anticipation. A contemporary review of this work published in the Gentleman’s Magazine, gives us a sense of Ries’s reputation during his London years.

‘We have already spoken of Mr Ries in terms sufficiently commendatory. The present easy trio, which is too original to be properly called familiar, will not change our favorable opinion of his abilities…We have not room to specify the numerous parts of this trio that meet our approbation,–The ingenuity of modulations and of the parts which imitate each other, & c.; and shall therefore content ourselves with simply recommending it to our readers who are interested in learned variety.’ 

When Robert Schumann composed the Davidsbündlertänze in 1837, he had been secretly engaged to Clara Wieck, a brilliant pianist with whom Schumann had been romantically involved for many years against the wishes of her father. As with some of his other piano compositions of this period, Schumann incorporated special ways of communicating with Clara through the work. He described the Davidsbündlertänze as the story of “A party on the eve of a wedding — you can fill in the start and finish for yourself.” This intimate connection with Clara is signaled in a number of ways. The work begins with a theme inscribed “Motto von CW,” a musical quotation from her Mazurka, op. 6, no 5 for piano. Schumann probably designated his work opus 6 in tribute to Clara’s opus 6. In an even more personal connection he headed the title page with the following text: “Old saying: At all times pleasure is bound up with pain. Stay constant in pleasure and meet pain with courage.”

The Davidsbündlertänze comprise eighteen short movements divided into two books. Each movement is inscribed with the initial ‘F’ or ‘E’, referring to his fictitious inventions Florestan and Eusebius who are credited as the work’s authors on the original title page. Schumann had created these imaginary characters some years earlier and used them as pseudonyms for himself in his essays and compositions. Florestan represented his passionate, assertive side with whom he most closely identified, while Eusebius represented his sensitive and gentle side. These are the main characters of the Davidsbünd, or League of David he created to challenge the musical philistines of his day. Given the wide range of mood and expression in the individual movements of the Davidsbündlertänze, they may be equally viewed as character pieces, while retaining the forms and rhythms of dance. This great variety of tex

© Daniel Ryan and Suzanne Stumpf