Speaker, JCFA honor German composer

The importance of composer Robert Schumann was discussed as Butler University’s Leadership Through the Arts Forum began Sept. 29 at the Eidson-Duckwall Recital Hall.

Music historian, author and professor of music at Duke University Larry Todd was the keynote speaker.

Schumann, a German composer who lived from 1810 until 1856, changed the world of music forever, Todd said.

“He radically transformed composition and really blew it out of the water,” he said.

Todd said Schumann established a name for himself by introducing aspects of music in ways that were unprecedented at the time.

“Schumann was one of the first composers to explore the borderlines between music and literary devices,” Todd said. “He wanted to work to dissolve them.”

Todd frequented the keys of a baby grand piano at the center of the stage to clarify his positions on the composer.

“If you strictly adhere to musical theory, you miss Schumann’s music,” he said. “There’s much more beyond that.”

Kyle Ferrill, visiting professor of voice, said Todd was, “intelligent and very passionate about the romantic composers that he studies.”

Audience members were invited to attend the Butler Symphony Orchestra’s open rehearsal of Schumann’s “Rhenish Symphony” at Clowes Memorial Hall, which was performed on Sunday.

This year is especially important, as it marks the 200th anniversary of Schumann’s birth.

Ferrill said the school of music celebrates the birth of many prominent composers and artists.

“With this being Schumann’s bicentennial, it is an important time for us to reflect on Schumann and his relevance to us,” Ferrill said.

To do so, the Jordan College of Fine Arts hosted numerous Schumann-inspired recitals as part of a “mini-festival.”

Visiting assistant professor Mary Anne Scott, along with Ferrill and his wife, Lexa Ferrill, presented works by Robert and Clara Schumann on Oct. 1.


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