The City Sentinel, Staff Report
Oklahoma City, OK – This season the Brightmusic Chamber Ensemble celebrates the contribution of women to the vast body of classical music, featuring a work by a woman composer in each program.
On November 12 at 7:30 p.m. the ensemble will present its second chamber music concert of the 2019-20 season at St. Paul’s Cathedral, 127 N.W. 7th Street near downtown Oklahoma City. “From Café to Concert Hall” offers a trio of trios: two Romantic-period works and one contemporary piece that quickly became the composer’s most popular work.
The program will include a work by one of the most distinguished women composers of the Nineteenth Century, Clara Schumann, wife of German composer Robert Schumann.
One of the leading pianists of her day, Clara’s concertizing and teaching were the principle sources of income for the Schumann household. Professional duties and the rearing of the couple’s eight children, however, left her little time for composing, and Robert despaired that so many profound musical ideas would never be developed because she had no time to work them out.
Her four-movement Piano Trio in G minor, the only piano trio she would write, was composed in 1846 during a period when her husband was slipping into mental illness, and she herself would suffer a miscarriage. Her life was marked by hardship, and she would find even less time to compose as family burdens mounted following the death of Robert in 1856.
In a discussion last summer about the series of female composer highlighting this 2019-2020 season, Sara Grossman, a member of the Brightmusic Board of Directors, shared further insights into Schumann’s life and career in response to questions from The City Sentinel. Clara was not only a composer, but also a “pianist and educator who was one of the most distinguished pianists in Europe during the Romantic era, with a career spanning over six decades. She was the wife of composer Robert Schumann and the mother of their eight children. The couple championed the works of their young protégé, Johannes Brahms, with whom they maintained a close relationship and the most famous love triangle in classical music. Her husband, though supportive of her career, wrote, “[T]o have children and a husband who is always living in the realm of imagination does not go together with composing. She cannot work at it regularly.” Her piano trio in G minor op. 17 (violin, viola, cello & piano), written in 1846, was the only one she wrote and is considered her masterpiece.
Clara’s master work will be performed as Brightmusic’s Jeannette Sias Memorial Concert. (The Sias concert holds a special place in the heart of The City Sentinel’s arts critic, Patrick B. McGuigan.)
On the program for November 12:
Clara Schumann Piano Trio in G minor, Op. 17 (violin, cello & piano)
Paul Schoenfield Café Music (violin, cello & piano)
Antonín Dvořák Piano Trio No. 4 in E minor, Op. 90, Dumky (violin, cello & piano)
Paul Schoenfield is a pianist and professor of composition at the University of Michigan. He is known for combining popular and folk music with classical forms, and his high-energy Café Music combines all three in a spellbinding three-movement work. The piece was commissioned by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and inspired by Schoenfield’s stint as pianist of the house trio at a Minneapolis café.
Czech composer Antonín Dvořák also combined classical and folk music. His Dumky trio, one of his best-known works for chamber ensemble, was described by music critic Daniel Felsenfeld as “an uninhibited Bohemian lament,” a “six-movement dark fantasia….”
The subtitle Dumky is the plural form of dumka, a Slavic folk ballad or lament, typically melancholy with contrasting lively sections. The first three sections proceed without break, giving the impression of a long first movement, followed by the remaining three, for what appears to be a four-movement piece.
The remaining regular season concerts will include works by Mozart, Haydn, Tchaikovsky and the other Schumann. The ensemble will be joined this season by two guest artists: pianist Stephen Buck in Concert 3 on January 21 and French horn player Adam Unsworth in Concert 4 on March 3. Buck is Visiting Professor of Music at the Conservatory of Music at the State University of New York, and Unsworth is Professor of Horn at the University of Michigan. Then in June the ensemble will present its annual summer chamber music festival, programs and dates to be announced later in the season.
Season membership passes are available on our website or at the door for $100 for all five regular season concerts plus the four festival concerts. Single admission prices are $20 at the door. There is no charge for children; active-duty military and students are admitted free with ID.
Brightmusic Chamber Ensemble presents fine classical chamber music in the acoustically-rich St. Paul’s Cathedral at NW 7th and N. Robinson near downtown Oklahoma City. Free parking is available just south of the cathedral. For more information about the ensemble and upcoming concerts, visit www.brightmusic.org.
Note: Publisher Patrick B. McGuigan, a member of the Brightmusic Board of Directors, contributed to this report. This story appeared on page one of the November printed edition of our newspaper. The City Sentinel print edition is available (still just 10 cents) early in every month at the checkout counter inside Barnes & Noble, 6100 North May Avenue, Oklahoma City, 73112.