John Axelrod

The Bucharest Symphony Orchestra and its Principal Conductor John Axelrod have announced the launch of the Schumann 41/51 project and the continuation of the artistic partnership with Classeek. This will include recording sessions and professional engagements to further the careers of Classeek Ambassador soloists.

Violin soloist, ‘Classeek Ambassador Programme artist’ and emerging young artist Bilal Alnemr from Syria will record and perform Johannes Brahms’ Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77 at the Romanian Athenaeum as part of the project with John Axelrod and the Bucharest Symphony.

John Axelrod, the Bucharest Symphony Orchestra and Bilal Alnemr will perform at the Romanian Athenaeum on Wednesday, March 22 at 7 pm.

Entitled Schumann 41/51 – Florestan and Eusebius, the project offers the opportunity to discover or rediscover Schumann’s music. Schumann’s music in the classical-romantic style was influenced by his bipolar disorder, and Symphony No. 4 in the 1841/1851 version is an example of this, as it was composed and rewritten at a time when the composer was struggling with the symptoms of this illness. Audiences will hear both versions of Schumann’s 4th Symphony: the original version, composed and premiered in 1841 and published nearly 50 years later by Johannes Brahms, and the revised 1851 version, defended and protected by his widow, Clara Schumann. Both versions of the same 4th Symphony offer insights into the history of the two people who loved Robert Schumann most, and show how these two versions reflect Schumann’s dual nature. The love between Robert Schumann and Clara Wieck Schumann is a moving story that celebrates music, Clara as a muse, and also their marriage. For Robert and Clara Schumann, the universal language of music was their personal language of love. Schumann allowed his music to express his deep love for Clara. Their love survived parental disapproval, gossip, and discomfort in social situations to become one of the great loves of the classical music world. In the first year of their marriage, Robert Schumann wrote over 130 songs for voice and piano. These were inspired both by his feelings for Clara from the time he courted her and by their new life together. The public heard the music of Robert and Clara Schumann, but few know that this music contained secret messages from the composer to his muse, such as thematic material that mentioned her name or works dedicated to her. The descending fifth was often used by him to symbolize her, as it had been part of a theme in one of her compositions. Both used music as an expression of their deepest thoughts. Robert Schumann, on the other hand, called himself Florestan and Eusebius, two distinct personalities representing the composer’s emotional contrasts. Bipolar disorder, also known as bipolar affective disorder, is a psychiatric disorder characterized by frequent mood swings that range from periods of euphoria to periods of depression. The disorder can severely impact a person’s life, affecting relationships, daily activities, and the ability to work or learn. Composer Robert Schumann’s music was influenced by this illness, and his symphony can be seen as an expression of it. The project represents the artists’ joint effort to portray Schumann’s work and to better understand his illness and its impact on his life and music.

Maestro Axelrod explains his motivations, « After recording the Brahms symphonies and the songs of Clara Schumann, I delved deeply into Robert Schumann’s life, his loves, and his long struggle for mental health. While much of his music and writings reflect his bipolar condition, these two publications, one written during a manic creative year and the other in the depths of his emotional despair, provide for me the most telling portrait of this radical romantic. While it was endlessly interesting for me, I hope to share this musical discovery with my fellow musicians and our audience. In the process, perhaps we will all learn something new about the man who remains an enigma to many. »

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