Robert Schumann was born on June 8, 1810. Some of us contributing to the #ClassicsaDay feed decided to celebrate that birthday. For the month of June, we encouraged folks to post works by Schumann and his circle. Schumann worked with several major composers of the day. He also reviewed up-and-coming composers in his magazine.

Here are my selections for the fourth and final week of #ClassicsaDay #SchumannsCircle

Robert Schumann – Sechs Fugen über den Namen: Bach, Op. 60

Schumann, along with Mendelssohn were champions of J.S. Bach’s music. In 1845 Schumann emulated Bach by using the musical notes of his name (B-flat, A, C, B natural) as a fugal subject.

 

Franz Liszt (1811-1886) – Fantasy and Fugue on the Theme B-A-C-H

Initially, Schumann didn’t think much of Franz Liszt. Over time, that opinion changed, and they became friends. They both shared a love of Bach, and both wrote music based on his name. Liszt’s Fantasy and Fugue was finished in 1855, ten years after Schumann’s tribute.

 

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) – Prelude and Fugue in B-Flat Major on the name B.A.C.H. BWV 898

In the 19th Century, Bach’s music inspired many composers. Several emulated Bach and wrote music based on his name. As it turns out, one of the works that inspired them — the Prelude and Fugue BWV 898, may not have been written by Bach, but by one of his students.

Robert Schumann – Missa Sacra in C minor, Op. 147

Schumann studied the music of Giovanni Palestrina. As a conductor, he programmed Palestrina choral works regularly. His 1852 mass shows both the influence of Palestrina’s Renaissance polyphony.

 

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-1594) – Missa Papae Marcelli

One of Palestrina’s most famous work – and certainly one Schumann was familiar with — was the Pope Marcellus Mass. The work was written in 1562. According to legend, Palestrina wrote the mass to demonstrate to the Council of Trent that counterpoint still had a place in the Counter-Reformation.

 

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) – Variations on a Theme by Robert Schumann in F-sharp minor, Op. 9

No look at Schumann’s Circle would be complete without Brahms. Brahms became close friends with both Robert and Clara in 1853. Both supported the younger composer. In 1854 Schumann was institutionalized. Brahms’ Variations, written the same year, was a fitting tribute. The theme was by Robert, the dedication was to Clara.