Schumann and Ireland’s music heritage


IF ever a fan of the intense romance and musicality of mittel Europe’s 19th century music, attend to a concert scheduled at Pery Square on Saturday February 7, 8pm.

Billed as Clara Schumann (1819 -1896) and her Irish Contemporaries, the evening is homage at various  levels to this German pianist and composer – and her Irish born contemporaries who were composers of note.

Centrestage to the recital by soprano Elisabeth Goell and pianist Una Hunt is Schumann’s own 160 year old piano, built in the workshop of her uncle – Wieck was her family name. On loan to this duo for the seven-concert tour, Schumann’s pianos was bought by the Donegal Montgomery family in 1850 and was beautifully restored by Henderson piano technicians in Derry.

 Schumann had achieved a concert career that spanned six decades after her first public concert aged just 11.  Three years later she wrote her first piano concerto, with some help from Robert Schumann, and performed it at the Leipzig Gewandhaus with Mendelssohn conducting. Clara Schumann also went on to become a mother of eight, wife to and later widow of the mentally unstable Robert.

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At 7.15pm in Limerick City Gallery of Art on Saturday 7, the evening begins with a short film on the piano’s picaresque journey and the women connected to it.   

“We’re very privileged that the owner has released it for this tour,” comments Goell. “This piano has a different sound to a piano built today and it’s intended for a simpler singing and vocal style”. She  also underlines the equal roles she and Hunt have in this concert and “I consider myself a violin to her playing”.

Elisabeth Goell makes the point that  the tour is a chance to highlight our own considerable music heritage from that era.

“We want to raise people’s awareness that Ireland had a great deal of classic composers then who were very creative and good”.

Goell lists George Alexander Osborne (buried at St Mary’s Cathedral), Arthur O’Leary, Lady Dufferin and August Holmes as on the programme for the gallery event, supported by The Centre of Irish German Studies,  First Trust Bank, Arts Council and local bodies.