Friday, February 7, 2014

Johannes and Clara: The Mystery Remains

When pianist Hélène Grimaud was in town performing Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra last month, she came over to the WGUC studio for a visit. Knowing I was planning to write about Brahms in an upcoming blog post, I thought it would be interesting to see what she had to say about Brahms’ relationship with Clara Schumann.

A fan of Brahms, she told me that she loved the story of Johannes and Clara. Ms. Grimaud believes Brahms’ love for Robert Schumann equaled, if not exceeded, his love for Clara. She does believe that Brahms restrained his feelings but nonetheless couldn’t help his emotion. She mentioned that Brahms expressed his love in different ways by caring for Clara’s children, enabling her to continue her career as a pianist. This “transformed” love can be seen in his “generosity” toward her family. Hélène also mentioned that Brahms may have been intimidated by the talented and older Clara Schumann.

 Winding up our conversation, Hélène seemed intrigued that the various correspondences between the pair were destroyed, saying that the lack of full evidence only “keeps [her] imagination stimulated” all the more.

Continuing our love theme, join me next week for tales of romance in the life of Hector Berlioz!

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