Main content

Falling out of Favour

Donald focuses on the premiere of Schumann's melancholy Manfred Overture in a half-empty concert hall, a disappointment leavened by the birth of a new child.

It was an offer Robert Schumann only wished he could have refused. But lacking other job opportunities, the composer reluctantly accepted Dusseldorf's offer of the post of Director of Music, with responsibility not only for a semi-professional orchestra, but also for a choir. All this week Donald Macleod looks at Schumann's Dusseldorf years and the creative stimulus this move provided for Schumann, his triumphs as well as his many failures. In less than five years, Robert would write some third of his entire output, composing concertos, choral works and symphonies. Despite the composer's tragic illness, he lost none of his powers of invention, and was indeed on the brink of enjoying both popular as well as critical success.

In today's programme, Schumann presents his melancholy Manfred Overture to a half-empty concert hall and appears somewhat less than heroic to his orchestra members. With the birth of a new child, the family finally find more suitable accommodation, with rooms sufficiently large to host a choir. Only, there are now mutterings of dissent among some of the singers. As relations between Schumann and his employers deteriorate, there are demands for him to consign some of his duties to his deputy. It's a situation that would frustrate most people, and yet Robert Schumann still manages to compose popular Hausmusik to be played and enjoyed in the home. And we hear a lighter side to the cigar-smoking Robert with a charming piano duet.

Manfred - incidental music, Op. 115 (Overture)
Berlin Philharmonic
Rafael Kubelik

Waldszenen, Op. 82 nos 3, 4, 5
Andras Schiff, piano

Der Rose Pilgerfahrt, Op. 112 (Part 1)
Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra and Choir
Gustav Kuhn, conductor

Ballszenen, Op. 109 (No. 7, Ecossaise)
Hector Moreno & Norberto Capelli (piano duet).

24 days left to listen

59 minutes

Music Played

  • Robert Schumann

    Manfred Overture, Op 115

    Orchestra: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.
  • Robert Schumann

    Manfred - Incidental Music Op115 - Overture

    Performer: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Rafael Kubelík.
    • DG : 437 395-2.
    • DG.
    • 10.
  • Robert Schumann

    Waldscenen Op 82 (extracts)

    Performer: Sir András Schiff.
    • ECM 2122/23 476 3909.
    • ECM.
    • 1.
  • Robert Schumann

    Der Rose Pilgerfahrt Op 112 - Part 1

    Orchestra: DR SymfoniOrkestret. Conductor: Gustav Kuhn. Choir: Danish National Radio Choir.
    • CHANDOS : CHAN-9350.
    • CHANDOS.
    • 12.
  • Robert Schumann

    Ballszenen Op 109 - Ecossaise

    Performer: Hector Moreno. Performer: Norberto Capelli.
    • COCEU : 0009.
    • COCEU.
    • 1.


Composers A to Z

Composers A to Z

Visit the extensive audio archive of Radio 3 programmes about Composers and their works.

A man out of time – why Parry's music and ideas were at odds with his image...

A man out of time – why Parry's music and ideas were at odds with his image...

The composer of Jerusalem was very far from the conservative figure his image suggests.

Five reasons why we love Parry's Jerusalem

Five reasons why we love Parry's Jerusalem

What is the strange power of Jerusalem which makes strong men weep?

Composer Help Page

Composer Help Page

Find resources and contacts for composers from within the classical music industry.