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CR-086. Hyekyung Lee, piano. Schumann

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CR-086. Hyekyung Lee, piano. Schumann

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Weight: 120 g

Robert Schumann (1810 - 1856), a great German romantic composer, was born in 1810 in Zwickau to a family of a bookseller. His love for music developed rather early; he played piano and made attempts to compose; although he sometimes disregarded the principles of musical composition, his pieces were rather remarkable for his age. He took great interest in literature; he was especially enthusiastic about Goethe, Schiller, and Byron, as well as Greek tragic poets; later on, he got inspired by works by Hoffmann and Jean Paul. After his father's death in 1826, he bent to his mother's wishes and became a law student at the Leipzig University in 1828 and later in University of Heidelberg (1829), though he still dedicated much time to music. In 1830, Schumann finally abandoned the University, returning to Leipzig for musical studies with Friedrich Wieck.
His piano career, however, came to a stop; a mechanical device he had built to strengthen his 4th finger seriously injured his hand. However, he continued to compose. Among the works of that time are Papillons and Abegg Variations.
In 1834, in collaboration with several friends including Friedrich Wieck, Schumann founded a music journal, Neue Zeitschrift fur Musik. The journal became an embodiment of his dream of an artists' union, inspired by the idea of purity and a new romantic spirit (he called it "Davidsbund" after "men of David" corporations in medieval Germany). The imaginary league of artists fighting against the surrounding philistines with their banality and shallowness remained an important idea for Schumann. For ten years, he was the journal's editor and leading writer. Schumann was a brilliant critic, profound and perceptive; in his reviews, he drew attention to many promising musicians, Chopin, Berlioz and Brahms among them. It was in Schumann's literary work where his idealistic imaginary personalities, Florestan and Eusebius, first appeared. Florestan represented the active, impetuous side of his creator's character, while Eusebius expressed his lyrical side. Both figures appeared not only in Schumann's essays, but also in his music, just as it happened with Men of David (Davidsbundlers).
In 1830-1840, Schumann composed piano works; among the compositions of that period were Carnival, Davidsbundlertanze, Symphonic Etudes, Fantasie, Fantasiestucke, Kreisleriana
In the middle thirties, Schumann fell in love with Wieck's daughter Clara, a talented pianist. Friedrich was strongly opposed to their marriage, and for several years Robert and Clara struggled for their right to marry. Finally, they had to fight against Friedrich in court. They got married in 1840.
On the year of his marriage, Schumann concentrated mostly on vocal music: he composed more than 130 songs, including his most famous cycles Dichterliebe (Poet's Love) and Frauenliebe und -leben (A Woman's Love and Life). But later, he had turned to symphony music, composing in 1841 two symphonies (the First Symphony and Symphony in D minor known as the Fourth), Ouverture, Scherzo and Finale, and the first movement of the Piano concerto. In 1842, his interest laid in the sphere of chamber music, when he had created three string quartets, a piano quartet and a piano quintet.
The works of the middle of forties were composed in a "struggle of the creative spirit with the destructive forces of the disease", as Schumann described it himself while talking about his Second Symphony.
Clara and Robert made several concert tours - in Russia in 1844, in Prague, Berlin and Vienna in 1846-47; in 1851-53 they appeared in Switzerland and in Belgium. Robert went through a severe depression, but later he was active again, finishing his opera Genoveva, composing the First movement to Faust, and Ouverture and Music to Manfred.
In that period, Schumann's interests turned to more monumental forms and genres; he aspired to classical structures though his personality expressed itself much better in romantic miniatures and cycles of fantastic pieces.
In the end of his life, Schumann's emotional instability increased. He had to change places several times; in 1854, he attempted suicide, throwing himself into Rhine; he was rescued by some boatmen and taken to an asylum where he stayed until his death in 1856.

Kreisleriana, one of Schumann's most famous and beautiful works, was composed in 1838. The name of the work comes from conductor Johannes Kreisler, a character from the works of E.T.A. Hoffmann. Schumann was greatly attracted by Kreisler's brilliant though paradoxical personality.
In the eight pieces of this grand cycle with their dramatic contrasts (sometimes recalling characters of Florestan and Eusebius), like in many other works, Schumann is like a novelist, embodying the subtle nuances and shades of the man's mood, human passions and dreams.
Kreisleriana is dedicated to Frederic Chopin.

Dramatic contrasts are also characteristic for Fantasiestucke, op. 12 (1837). Des Abends (Evening), full of dreaminess, an embodiment of the languid side of Schumann's personality is followed by the agitated Aufschwung (Soaring) - Florestan appears on stage. Warum? (Why?) is a kind of philosophic meditation filled with tenderness - Eusebius comes into light again.
Grillen (Whims) is full of humor. In der Nacht (In the night) is a mysterious and dramatic picture of the night, with a beautiful lyrical theme in the middle section. The piece was inspired by the legend about Hero and Leander. It is followed by a colorful Fabel (Fable), full of humor and bright contrasts. Traumeswirren (Dreamtwine) resembles a fantastic dance, gracious and elegant. Ende vom Lied (The end of the song) starts like a majestic march; a beautiful coda, profound and meditative yet emotional, becomes a kind of a "summing up" and concludes the whole cycle.

Hyekyung Lee, born in Wonju, Korea in 1959 began to play piano at the age of 6. After winning several national music competitions, she had her first public concert with Seoul Sinfonietta Orchestra in 1970, and 4 years later became the soloist for the foundation concert of Korea Jeunesse Musicale Orchestra.
Entering Folkwang Music College in Essen, Germany in 1975, she subsequently won the DAAD German government scholarship, the Folkwang Prize Competition and the nationwide German Music College Union Competition.
Transferring to Muenchen Music College, she graduated with top marks in 1981. During 2 years of graduate school, she gave recitals, performed for various radio programs and earned the Bach Prize at Vianna da Motta International Competition in Lisbon.
In 1984, Miss Lee returned home to teach at Chung-Ang University as a professor. Today, Hyekyung Lee is recognized as one of Koreas outstanding musicians with her wide concert repertoires from baroque to contemporary. In 1984 she received the 'Critic's Prize' from the Korea Music Pen Club. In 1988 she was selected as 'Musician of the Year' by Dong-A music magazine. In 1993 she received the 'Korea Music Award' from the Korea Music Society. In 2004 she received the 'Seoul Music Prize' from the Korea Music Critic Association.
Hyekyung Lee has performed at Kennedy Center and Lincoln Center in USA, in Sydney, Vienna, Moscow, Tokyo, Manila and with the Ulster Orchestra in Northern Ireland. In Korea she plays regularly with the Korea Philharmonic Orchestra and the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra. She has also performed chamber music with the Colorado String Quartet, the New Budapest String Quartet, flautists Patrick Galloy and Maxence Larrieu, trumpeter Stephen Burns, Koreas top violinist Dong-Suk Kang and the Korean traditional drum quartet Samulnori, among many others. Miss Lee's career has also brought her in contact with many fine conductors, including Vakhtang Jordania, Bernhard Gueller, Barry Wordsworth, Sandro Suturello and Yan Pascal Tortelier.

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