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Gerald Carpenter: Music Academy’s First Tuesdays at 8 Reunites Pals Schumann, Brahms

Hahn Hall hosts academy faculty playing for the ages

The Music Academy of the West’s popular “Tuesdays at Eight” concerts are a kind of informal occasion on which the academy’s faculty members demonstrate their qualifications for teaching others how to play their instrument. I hardly need add that no parent or guardian has ever withdrawn a young musician from the academy after such a demonstration. The Music Academy faculty has been, and remains, a peerless gathering of masters and virtuosos.

Johannes Brahms in 1853, the year he became an ad hoc member of the Clara and Robert Schumann family.
Johannes Brahms in 1853, the year he became an ad hoc member of the Clara and Robert Schumann family.

The first program of the 2010 Tuesdays at 8 — 8 p.m. Tuesday at UCSB’s Hahn Hall — consists of Robert Schumann’s “Sonata No. 1 in a-minor for Violin and Piano, Opus 105,” played by Jeff Thayer, violin, and Jonnathan Feldman, piano; Philippe Gaubert’s “Sonata No. 2 for Flute and Piano,” with Timothy Day, flute, and Margaret McDonald, piano; Johannes Brahms’ “Sonata in A-Major for Violin and Piano, Opus 100,” starring the dream team of Kathleen Winkler, violin, and Warren Jones, piano; and François Poulenc’s “Sonata for Clarinet and Piano (1962).”

Brahms was on tour with the Hungarian violinist Eduard Reményi in 1853, and he met the legendary fiddler Joseph Joachim, who gave him a letter of introduction to Schumann, who was then living in Düsseldorf. Schumann instantly recognized Brahms’ genius, and Brahms instantly recognized Clara Schumann as the woman of his dreams. It is unlikely that the Johannes-Clara mutual admiration society ever found physical expression — one can imagine a very different outcome if the man in question had been Richard Wagner — but their passionate friendship lasted for the rest of their lives, beautifully documented by their voluminous and fascinating correspondence.

That Schumann, in his journalism, was a tireless promoter of Brahms’ music, has been frequently noted; that he also had considerable influence on Brahms’ compositions, particularly the symphonies and other orchestral works, is hardly ever noted, probably because we hear Brahms so much more often than his mentor. Yet in some passages the Schumann is unmistakable.

Click here for more information about the Music Academy of the West, or call 805.969.8787. Click here to purchase tickets.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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