16 December: Schumann’s creative vandalism

Every day throughout Advent, the season of overindulgence, we’ll be telling a tale of an overindulgent composer

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Composer: Robert Schumann

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How indulgent: Culturally indulgent

How: While out celebrating at the Heidelberg Carnival in 1830, Robert Schumann became so intoxicated that, upon returning home, he vandalised his own piano. He was a notorious drinker as both as a student and in later life.

As a young man at a local inn, a fellow drinker requested that he and his friends recite Schiller’s poem ‘The Glove’. Schumann would later set this poem to music. In this same incident, after reciting the poem and singing student drinking songs, Schumann then took to the piano for an improvisation. He later recalled, ‘the peasants opened their mouth in surprise as my fingers moved so tipsily over the keys. At the end, there was drunken dancing’.

Did you know: On a slightly stranger note, Schumann would often plunge his hands into the entrails of a dead animal to cure any illness he was suffering from.

Now indulge yourself with….. ‘Traumes Wirren’, Fantasiestücke

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This seventh piece in Schumann’s famous set of piano pieces, the title of which translates as ‘Dream’s Confusions’, passion and wistfulness combine as Schumann’s alter-egos – Eusebius and Florestan – struggle against one another.