Pianist and Schumann scholar Dr. Richard Kogan joins Alsop to discuss Schumann’s genius and mental illness
Music Director Marin Alsop leads the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in an Off the Cuff series presentation, Schumann’s Beautiful Mind, on Friday, May 13 at 8:15 p.m. at the Music Center at Strathmore and Saturday, May 14 at 7 p.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. Renowned Schumann scholar Dr. Richard Kogan will join Maestra Alsop to explore Schumann’s beautiful mind—one tormented by his bi-polar disorder, and yet still able to continue his work. Dr. Kogan will perform and discuss selections from Schumann’s beloved piano work Carnaval. Also on the program are selections from Schumann’s Second Symphony. The BSO’s Off the Cuff series offers a fresh take on classical music by exploring the lives of the composers, making the performances entertaining and engaging for music enthusiasts of any level.
Robert Schumann—among the Romantic era’s most ingenious and prolific composers—spent the last years of his life in an asylum, where he eventually starved himself to death. Such a tragic end to a dazzling genius warrants a closer look into the madness and depression that plagued him. Host and conductor Marin Alsop, aided by Schumann scholar and pianist Dr. Richard Kogan, will examine the manic and creative episodes responsible for Schumann’s bursts of feverish composing.
Among the works performed by the BSO will be Schumann’s Second Symphony, composed in his darkest days after his worst mental breakdown limited his creative capacity as a composer. After recovering from his mental illness temporarily, he went into one of his most manic creative periods, composing his piano concerto in A minor and his Second Symphony during that time. It is remarkable that in the face of adversity, Schumann was able to complete this work successfully. The symphony is a psychological journey from dark to light, reflecting Schumann’s struggle with his mental illness to recovery, from the slow and somber opening to the fanfare and triumphant finale expressing his recovery.