Schumann Violin Concerto

May 30, 2004 at 01:28 AM · I read this article in a russian newspaper about Schumann and his Violin Concerto. He said it wasnt to be played for 100 years after his death and in 1958 it was performed by Menuhin for the first time ever! do any of you know more about the story behind this?

Replies (21)

May 30, 2004 at 02:28 AM · Here's an excerpt from page 341 of the book "Grace Notes for a Year," by Mr. Norman Gilliland.


On December 6, 1937, at Carnegie Hall in New York, Yehudi Menuhin gave the first American performance of a violin concerto by Robert Schumann. The performance might well have been forgotten after a few weeks except for some remarkable circumstances. Menuhin had wanted to give the world premiere of the concerto, but several people had blocked him from doing so - and some of them were dead.

The Schumann work was known as "the lost concerto" although its existence and whereabouts had been known ever since Schumann had written it in 1853. Schumann had written the concerto for the great - and particular - violinist Joseph Joachim, who had never played it, and left instructions in his will that no one should play the concerto until 100 years after Schumann's death in 1856.

But in the summer of 1937 it was announced that Yehudi Menuhin, who had called attention to the concerto, had obtained performance rights for the work and would give its world debut in America. Suddenly the plot thickened. English newspapers claimed that the rights to the concerto belonged to Jelly d'Aranyi, the grandniece of Joachim and herself a world-class violinist.

Then the German government stepped in and authorized Georg Kulenkampff to perform the work with the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Karl Boehm.

Adding to the confusion, a book published that summer claimed that d'Aranyi had "discovered" the concerto through a series of seances in which she heard from both Joachim and Schumann, who ordered her to obtain the manuscript and play the concerto. Although the spirit messages had come in English and bad German, many accepted the story as true.

But the spirts were not to have their way. The Berlin premiere took place on November 26 before an audience that included Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels.

Menuhin had to wait 10 days for his performance and settled for giving the American premiere of Schumann's "Violin Concerto in D Minor."


I'm not sure what sources Mr. Gilliland used in his retelling of this story, but I am pretty sure they were accurate ones. I know Mr. Gilliland fairly well and his researching skills are absolutely phenomenonal! :)

Hope this helps.

Musically, Emily

May 30, 2004 at 09:01 AM · Greetings,

Kulenkampf is well wroth listening to.

The Menuhin recording of the Schumann just blows me away. Anytime you just want to be hung out to dry emotionally listen to this kid doing this piece,



May 30, 2004 at 08:20 PM · Where does the Schumann Violin Concerto fall in terms of order of difficulty for violin concerti?

May 31, 2004 at 01:19 AM · I haven't played it but have heard that it's very difficult due to the awkward, unviolinistic writing.

The cello solo at the beginning of the second movement is among the most painfully beautiful melodies he ever wrote.

May 31, 2004 at 09:24 AM · There is a story that Schumann told angels sang a song for him, and that song became his beautiful last piano composition (variations E flat). Soon after that he jumped into the river Rhein. As a matter of fact, the theme for variations is from the slow movement of this concerto. Did he not remember that it was his own theme, or did the angels just vary his theme - that I don't know. I've read also somewhere that he thought they were the spirits of Schubert and some other composer that I don't remember (Mendelssohn?) who sang the song for him. Brahms used the same theme for his variations for piano four hands Op.23.

May 31, 2004 at 02:40 PM · Buri listening to Menuhin's recording of Schumann's Violin Concerto right now. There was only one Menuhin!. It's a shame nobody tried to follow in his footsteps just a little. Alot of violinist wanted to be like Heifetz.

May 31, 2004 at 02:44 PM · I wanna be me...

May 31, 2004 at 05:35 PM · No matter how much you want to be you, there is always some part of somebody else's way you pick up. Listen to Menuhin play then listen to a Young Enesco. You can see Menuhin has been influenced by Enesco sound, I detect Elman too. When Sinatra started singing that legato style of his in the 1940's, everybody said wow he sounds different, listen how he carries one phrase into another. They did not realize until latter that he used his voice they way Tommy Dorsey blew his Trombone. Mario Lanza was influenced by Caruso, I have private recordings of Lanza when he was 19 years old, you can hear the influence Caruso played in his singing. To a point there is no such thing as ME, it's more like somebody else's way they got from somebody else and then a little bit of yourself. It is possible for someone's style to come from more than one source. Example : Sinatra 's influence--- Dorsey, Heifetz, Singer Billy Holiday.

May 31, 2004 at 06:15 PM · Believe me, I sound like nobody else ;)

May 31, 2004 at 09:44 PM · I believe you Mattias. Believe me too, I sound like nobody also.

May 31, 2004 at 11:50 PM · Greetings,

Mattias, I am sure you sound like a prune floating in a fjord under the summer sunshine,



June 1, 2004 at 05:51 PM · that was beautiful buri...sniff

menuhin said he took inspiration from elman's sound, as well as heifetz's technique and enescu's musicality and shifts

June 2, 2004 at 03:37 AM · I love this concerto...Menuhin really had a golden sound when he recorded it, imagine how fustrated he would have been later...that he lost this golden sound that makes people cry.

June 2, 2004 at 01:27 PM · Menuhin's recording of the Schumann & Dvorak concertos is readily available as part of NAXOS' great violinists series:

June 2, 2004 at 04:23 PM · So i guess I heard right Owen when I said I can hear the influence Elman and Enesco had on Yehudi. Not a bad ear after all!. Where did you read this statement from Menuhin?

June 2, 2004 at 09:43 PM · wow, i'm not sure i can remember that, but it might have been his book on violins in general, not hte autobiography, hmmm, it'll be interesting when i get alzheimers

June 4, 2004 at 05:50 AM · This is sort of off-topic, but since you guys mentioned Kulenkampff, has anyone heard his Sibelius?

June 6, 2004 at 03:06 AM · thomas zehetmair is a good schumann interpreter.

June 6, 2004 at 12:42 PM · Szeryng and Kremer also made great recordings of this piece.

June 7, 2004 at 12:10 AM · Szeryng's recording is really great. Also check out Frank Peter Zimmermann's recording, which is paired up on a CD with Truls Mork playing the Schumann cello concerto very wonderfully.

June 19, 2004 at 05:03 PM · I was fascinated to read the story of this concerto and its first performance. I'm in the middle of a restoration of the original Telefunken 78rpm discs of Kulenkampff's recording, without doubt the most high fidelity 1930's discs I've ever come across.

I wondered if anyone here had any further information on the recording sessions - I know the Germans were ahead of the rest of us with regard to magnetic tape recordings, and I just wonder if this was an exceptionally early example of it. I've not heard anything else this good prior to the 1950's.

If you've not heard the Kulenkampff (and his playing is excellent too!) I hope to put a short excerpt, probably from the slow movement, onto my website in the next few days as a high-quality MP3 file (it's out of copyright so it's legal). I'm not sure what the site policy here is so please don't shoot me down if I'm breaking the rules, but the sample will be on the Musical Downloads page at shortly. I'll try and find abuot 2'30" of something suitable wonderful!

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