Robert Schumann was a composer of romantic classical music. Among other things, he composed lots of piano music, songs, fours symphonies, and one very popular piano concerto.
I like Schumann’s music. But I must admit that I’ve never liked his music a lot. It hasn’t grabbed my attention like the music by some other composers. So when I woke up this morning, I didn’t even know that today was the 200th anniversary of Schumann’s birth.
Now it just so happened that I had to drive somewhere today. So I turned on the radio to listen to BBC Radio 3. It was then I learnt about the anniversary. And I also heard lots of Schumann’s music. The piano music I heard was beautiful… but I thought Chopin’s piano music was more beautiful. The music sounded good… but not great.
But then I began to concentrate on what the people on the radio were saying about Schumann. It made me think about the music, and so I began to listen to it more carefully. And when I did, I began to hear something I hadn’t noticed before. I began to hear not just beautiful music, or even music of any one type. Instead I began to hear music full of quite mixed and complicated feelings. Some of these feelings also seemed quite delicate. Not only that, they seemed very personal too. They weren’t the sort of feelings that people normally show to the world, such as happy, or sad. Instead they were the sort of feelings that we don’t normally tell others about… the sort of feelings we only allow ourselves to feel in private.
If a person screams and shouts, you don’t have to take much notice to know what they’re saying. On the other hand, if you want to understand someone’s deepest feelings, you have to listen to what they’re saying very carefully. So no wonder Schumann’s music hadn’t grabbed my attention before! I hadn’t given it enough attention myself!
So, yet again, I have learnt the golden rule of music. Listen to it!! And if it doesn’t make sense the first time, listen to it again! And if it still doesn’t make sense, put it away for a while in the back of your mind and come back to it later. For you never know what you might hear if you keep on trying!
Happy birthday, Schumann!!