Monthly Archives: September 2014

St. Petersburg Quartet

We open our 43rd season with the St. Petersburg Quartet on October 9, 2014!

The St. Petersburg Quartet features Alla Aranovskaya (first violin), Luis Angel Salazar Avila (second violin), Leonid Shukayev (cello), and Boris Vayner (viola). Aranovskaya and Shukayev are founding members, with Vayner joining in 2005 and Avila joining earlier this year. Founded in 1985 as the Leningrad String Quartet, they changed the name to the St. Petersburg String Quartet when Leningrad restored its historical name.

In 2010, the quartet became the first Quartet in Residence at Wichita State University. The School of Music offers both Bachelor degrees and Master programs in performance, composition/theory, and music history. Members of the quartet are part of the faculty and they teach a variety of courses.

In addition to teaching, performing, and recording CDs, the quartet are also a key force behind the St. Petersburg International Music Academy. The Academy runs for 2 weeks in the summer and just finished its 6th year. Accepted students have the opportunity for individual lessons, chamber group lessons, orchestra rehearsals, and public performances. Along with several other musicians, all of the members of the quartet teach and perform with the students at the Academy. You can find out more about the academy on their website, http://www.stpetersburgacademy.com/about-academy.html

To read more about the quartet, visit their website at http://www.stpetersburgquartet.com

To hear them live, join us on October 9th! http://www.music-toronto.com

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A final look at Clara Schumann

Last week, I mentioned that Clara spent most of her life immersed in music and family.  For the time period, she was different – definitely a working mom in her day! Clara Josephine was born in 1819 and live 76 very full years.

After her marriage to Robert, she continued her career. In fact, she was a primary contributor to the household finances. She and Robert had 8 children, 7 of whom survived infancy. Clara continued to perform for most of her life, with her last public performance in 1891 at the age of 71. From the age of 59 to 72 she taught at the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt am Main. She was one of the primary performers to play recitals from memory.  She set the stage for our modern day recitals where it is now a normal thing to hear someone play from memory.  

As we mentioned in previous posts, family was obviously important to her. As a child, her life was dictated by her father and the various concert performances he booked for her. As an adult, she seems to have placed a high value on her family – working to help support them, becoming the main person to promote her husband’s compositions after he passed away. Two of her own children died in their mid twenties and one in his early 40’s. Clara took on the responsibility of raising two of her grandchildren when her son passed.

A strong woman, dedicated to music and family – that is what comes to mind when I think of Clara Schumann.

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Clara Schumann

We continue our look at the Schumann’s by shifting over to Clara. Clara was born in 1819 in Leipzig and was both an accomplished pianist and a composer. Her parents were Friedrich Wieck and Marianne Tromlitz. Marianne was a well known singer in Leipzig. Friedrich was a music teacher, instrument seller, and had a music lending library.

Friedrich and Marianne were married for 8 years and had 5 children. They divorced when Clara was 5 years old. Clara and her brothers all stayed with their father and were raised by him.

Friedrich knew his daughter was talented and capitalized on that talent from the beginning. She took lessons in piano, violin, theory, and composition. Clara started playing at a young age and was giving small concerts quite early in her life. It was at one of these early concerts that she and Robert met, both being guests at the same function.

Robert would become a pupil of her father and even lived in their house for a year. The bond between Clara and Robert started early and would grow into a life long commitment. Clara supported her husband through years of illness. Robert encouraged her composing and toured with her for performances. After Robert’s death, Clara devoted herself to performing and promoting her husband’s music. She lived for 61 years and spent pretty much all of it playing music, surrounded by family.

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Some thoughts on Robert Schumann

Robert Schumann was a German composer of the Romantic era. He was born in June of 1810 and was the youngest of 5 children. Encouraged by his father, he began music studies at a young age. After his father’s passing, he pursued legal studies in school from about age sixteen to nineteen. However, his passion for music won out and he returned to his music studies and eventually made it his full time profession. He aspired to become a renowned pianist and was talented enough to have been able to achieve this. Unfortunately a hand injury stopped that career path. He then focused more on composing, a benefit for all of us.

Robert’s father had been a book seller and publisher. Along with music, he introduced Robert to the world of literature, writing, and publishing. Robert had started writing essays for publication while his father was still alive. In 1834, Robert started the New Journal for Music (Die Neue Zeitschrift für Musik). Here he published many articles on a variety of music subjects – composers, performers, and his views on music in general.

He was much loved by his family. He and his wife, Clara, fought a legal battle in order to be able to marry which to me signifies a great commitment to each other. Yet Robert had a troubled life. Like some great artists he was not an emotionally stable man. He suffered from extreme bouts of depression and euphoria. In 1854, he requested to be committed to an asylum after an attempted suicide. His youngest child was born shortly after he entered the asylum. He would not get a chance to see his son grow up as Robert never recovered and died at the age of 46 in 1856.

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