German composer (b. 8 June 1810 at Zwickau, Saxony; d. 29 July 1856 in Bonn), born Robert Alexander Schumann.
Schumann was one of Tchaikovsky's favourite composers and exerted a very strong influence on his own music. Herman Laroche recalled in the Foreword to his 1898 edition of Tchaikovsky's feuilleton articles how as first-year Conservatory students in 1862 they had played through piano duet arrangements of Schumann's symphonies and overtures, as well as of the opera Genoveva and the oratorio Das Paradies und die Peri (Op. 50). In 1864 Anton Rubinstein, like his brother Nikolay a fervent admirer of Schumann, set Tchaikovsky the task of orchestrating some variations from the Symphonische Etuden for piano (Op. 13), which resulted in the Symphonic Studies. It was also as a student at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory that Tchaikovsky caught a glimpse of Clara Schumann, when, during her tour of Russia in 1864, she visited the Conservatory and attended a musical soirée at which Tchaikovsky and other fellow students performed Friedrich Kuhlau's Quartet for Four Flutes . Unfortunately, it is not known whether Tchaikovsky was actually introduced to the great composer's widow.
While staying at the Davydovs' dacha near Peterhof in the summer of 1866, where he worked on his First Symphony, Tchaikovsky in the evenings would often play through works by Schumann on the piano. As the composer's brother Modest later recalled: "The most pleasant moments of the whole day for me and for Vera Vasilyevna Davydova, whose musical enlightener he continued to be, were when he sat down at the piano in the evenings and played for us almost invariably one of Schumann's symphonies (the first and fourth), or the same composer's Das Paradies und die Peri, or Mendelssohn's Italian Symphony. He was especially thrilled by Das Paradies und die Peri (only the first part): each time he played it he would express his delight and demand that we pay particular attention when the moment of the young hero's appearance before the grim tyrant came, and he would play with great emotion the chorus of angels singing the glory of the young martyr—he said that he knew nothing higher than this in all music. Despite being quite fickle in his musical predilections, so that very often he would start criticizing what not so long ago he had been enthusiastic about, he remained faithful to Das Paradies und die Peri until the end of his life, just as he was faithful to Don Giovanni, A Life for the Tsar, and Der Freischütz" .
Significantly, at the start of his own career as a composer Tchaikovsky translated into Russian Schumann's famous Musikalische Haus- und Lebensregeln which emphasize the commitment, modesty, and earnestness required by the musician's calling. Tchaikovsky's translation was published in 1868 as Rulebook for Young Musicians [Жизненные правила для молодых музыкантов], TH 331.
In his music review articles during the 1870s Tchaikovsky frequently had the opportunity to discuss Schumann's works and his overall significance—the most important references have been listed below. Whilst praising the warmth and passion of Schumann's symphonies, Tchaikovsky nevertheless criticized their orchestration, and in a conversation with his friend Ivan Klimenko around 1870-71 he confessed that "for a long time he had been cherishing the idea of orchestrating afresh all four of Schumann's symphonies" .
In 1878 Tchaikovsky decided to compose a Children's Album of simple piano pieces for children inspired by the example of Schumann's Kinderszenen (Op. 15) . Such was his admiration for the great Romantic composer that in 1882 he hesitated to take up Balakirev's suggestion of writing a Manfred symphony partly because Schumann's Manfred overture was so strongly embedded in his mind. In the last year of his life, when he received an invitation to conduct some concerts in Saint Petersburg, Tchaikovsky wanted to dedicate a whole concert to Schumann's Das Paradies und die Peri, which in his diary he once described as "a divine work" .
In his obituary of Tchaikovsky the music critic Josef Sittard, who had spent a lot of time with the composer during his various visits to Hamburg from 1888 to 1893, recounted the following anecdote which testifies to the great esteem in which Tchaikovsky held Schumann:
Tchaikovsky's arrangements of works by Robert Schumann:
Tchaikovsky's translations of works by Robert Schumann:
Tchaikovsky's general reflections on Robert Schumann:
Tchaikovsky's views on specific works by Robert Schumann:
This page was last updated on 14 February 2013