CONCEPT BY LISA LARSSON
Hommage an Clara – an innovative orchestral tribute to Clara Schumann.
During lockdown in 2020, I came across Clara’s own statement regarding withdrawingfrom composing: „I once believed that I possessed creative talent, but have given up this idea; a woman must not desire to compose - there has never yet been one able to do it. Should I expect to be the one?“. This left me with a feeling of sorrow, that a great female talent was stopped by conventions of her time.
In true fascination, looking into Clara‘s vocal works, I found that one of her most beautiful songs is based on the very same poem by Rückert - „Liebst Du um Schönheit“ - as Mahler used later and received greater recognition for.
I also came across how, after having stopped composing herself, Clara often premiered works by her husband as well as by composing friends such as Brahms, Liszt, Chopin and Mendelssohn. Through her celebrity status as concert-pianist, she helped these new works reach audiences. This made me wonder how she sometimes might have felt deep down inside, after having left her own calling as a composer.
To my knowledge, Clara Schumann’s tasteful and emotionally so expressive „Lieder” have never been orchestrated before and it is my sincere hope that our new orchestral song-cycle, „Hommage an Clara“, will inspire a rediscovery of Clara‘s compositions. I express warmest gratitude to my Swedish colleague, composer Rolf Martinsson, for his kindness in taking on this project and creating such sensitive and colourful orchestrations.
I have chosen to let the two men of importance in Clara’s life, her husband Robert Schumann and her friend Johannes Brahms be part of my concept, to honour the woman who meant so much to both of them. My vision was to, as small orchestral interludes, discretely insert fragments of love songs of theirs, in which I am as sure as one can be, without proof, that they both had Clara in mind whilst composing. The fact that it was possible to seamlessly put both Robert’s and Johannes’ music right next to Clara’s, is to me the ultimate proof of what a talented composer she was!
Let us revisit Clara‘s statement - shed new light on this preeminent musician and female composer of her time - and together bring her music to a broad audience of today.
Zürich in October 2021.