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Robert Schumann: Life and Death of a Musician (Anglais) Relié – 29 mai 2007

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Revue de presse

'Worthen's is by far the most comprehensive account I have read of the facts of Schumann's life. His central thesis is important, and he writes clearly and freshly, bringing a wise head to an intricate tangle of evidence.' Susan Tomes, The Independent. '...beautifully written and meticulously researched and foodtnoted.' Simon Heffer, Literary Review. 'This is a biography with attitude.' Misha Donat, BBC Music Magazine. '...engaging, well written and clearly aimed at the general reader... for those wanting to read an affectionate life of one of the greatest and most loveable figures of the early 19th century, this book can be recommended.' Steven Isserlis, The Guardian. '...alongside the tragedies, this riveting account of Schumann's life also manages to encapsulate both the joy and elation of one of music's greatest, still neglected geniuses, and to express a passionate enthusiasm for his works. For this, Schumannites ought to be deeply grateful.' Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times. '...John Worthen's fine and scholarly new biography...' John Adamson, The Sunday Telegraph. --The Independent, Literary Review, BBC Music Magazine, The Guardian, The Sunday Times, The Sunday Telegraph --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

Présentation de l'éditeur

This candid, intimate, and compellingly written new biography offers a completely fresh account of Robert Schumann's life. It confronts the traditional perception of the doom-laden Romantic, forced by depression into a life of helpless, poignant sadness. John Worthen's scrupulous attention to the original sources reveals Schumann to have been an astute, witty, articulate and immensely determined individual who, with little support from his background in provincial Saxony, painstakingly taught himself his craft as a musician, overcame problem after problem in his professional life, and married the woman he loved after a tremendous battle with his father-in-law. Schumann was neither manic depressive nor schizophrenic, though he struggled with financial problems and illness. He worked prodigiously hard to develop his range of musical styles and to earn his living, only to be struck down, at the age of forty-four, by a vile and incurable disease. Worthen's biography effectively demystifies a figure frequently regarded as a Romantic enigma. It frees Schumann from one hundred and fifty years of myth-making and unjustified psychological speculation. It reveals him, for the first time, as a brilliant, passionate, resolute musician and thoroughly creative human being, and as the composer of arguably the best music of his generation.

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Amazon.com: 10 commentaires
33 internautes sur 33 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Detailed Biography of Schumann the Man 17 janvier 2008
Par Corn Soup - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
This is a very well written and nicely paced account of Schumann's life that draws heavily on his and Clara Schumann's diaries. Schumann's private personality emerges very nicely, and goes a long way towards dispelling the myths that were created by a tradition of biography in which the observations of those that did not know Schumann well took center stage and exaggerated the pathological elements of his personality and his eccentricities. Schumann was of course still a very unusual and unique man, but this is revealed in the context of the arc his entire life and in the context of his relationship with Clara.

This book is also a very good choice for those that are uncomfortable with the technical language of music and music notation. Schumann's music is not dealt with in these terms, but rather in the context of his life and musical development. This treatment is thorough enough, however, that those who are more familiar with music will gain much in reading it.

One quibble I have with the book is that I find Worthen's concept of manic-depressive disorder (bipolar I) very narrow, if not outright wrong at times. For example, he mentions times in which Schumann was particularly agitated and hyper-sensitive for periods of weeks or months. In doing so, he stresses that Schumann is not depressed since he is not showing the classic signs of depression that would characterize the depressive state of manic-depressive disorder, and that he was still able to work effectively through these periods. As someone who is familiar with this subject, my own thoughts are that these periods sound in fact, VERY much like dysphoric MANIC states or mixed states, which are often seen in patients with bipolar disorder and often misinterpreted by non-specialists. With this in mind, I very much doubt that this book has disproved the myth that Schumann had bipolar disorder, and in fact may make the case stronger, though I recognize the almost undeniable role that tertiary syphilis played in Schumann's final years. Worthern is very thorough in this respect, and gives very strong medical evidence to support this.
23 internautes sur 24 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A bio which may revolutionize the way we view Schumann. 25 octobre 2007
Par Steve Schwartz - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Solidly researched, splendidly argued, John Worthen's Schumann biography takes an untraditional approach. Every biography of the composer I've read stresses a schizophrenic or bipolar personality leading to madness and death in an asylum. Worthen strenuously argues for a physiological cause for Schumann's end. Even if Worthen turns out to be wrong, I find this the most nuanced account of Schumann's personality, and the prose is tremendous, besides. Worthen does not set out to give us an account of Schumann's music, but of the man. This might be frustrating for people who want to explore the music, but Schumann -- unlike many composers -- had a personality that justifies this kind of approach.
10 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Overall, a good biography 1 juin 2010
Par Antonia Brentano - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
Very well written, easy to read. Rather thouroughly documented. Sufficiently illustrated. Academic in the sense that year-long accepted "truths" about Schumann's (mental) health are questioned and challenged. After reading this book I think you have a good picture of the life (and death) of Robert Schumann.

It's a tricky business to "diagnose" people deceased centuries ago, only based on diaries, doctor's comments, etc. (what was the level of medical expertise in Leipzig in the first half of the nineteenth century? Some of remarks by several doctor's seem to have been taken at face-value) Although Worthen makes well documented assumptions about Schumann's health, there remains an element of uncertainty and doubt. After all, you never saw the "patient"...
At times I find the book too apologetic towards Schumann. His social skills seem to have been under-developed(creating, on a personal level, problems with visitors, but also on a professional level with choirs and orchestras). Some of his works were not that great, especially some larger-scale works. For these, and other, aspects of Schumann (and his works) Worthen tries hard, but in my view not always very convincing, to find reason's and excuses. And why? Even if he wrote some lesser works, even if he wasn't very social, he is still a great composer of eternally beautiful music.

Also, at some points there are some odd remaks in this book, e.g. when Clara had a miscarriage it is stated that she was not too sad about it (at this point I would have appreciated supporting documentation). Also, the statement that Schumann was the first composer to compose for his children struck me as strange: J.S. Bach e.g. wrote Clavier-Büchlein for his son Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (among other works for his other sons).

But still, 4 stars, because when you're interested in the life of the great composer Robert Schumann I think this book is one of the best available. Despite the critical remarkts above I found it hard to put this book down.
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Brilliant ! 25 décembre 2010
Par Paul Gelman - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
John Worthen's book about Robert Schumann deserves to be called one of the best biographies that has ever been written in general, certainly the best on the this Romantic composer.
Alonside the tragedies of Schumann, this book also tells about his daily joys, the elation he felt at times, his sorrows and daily life.
This book, whose main core is about the relationship between Schumann, Clara his wife, and Friedrick Wieck, who was Schumann's father-in-law, reads like a ninetheenth century novel, although its pace is not steady at all. This is the composer's life crafted by a master teller who has demystified Schumann totally by scrutinizing almost every piece written by or about him.
Personally, I think the second half of the book is much more intriguing because it contains many more angles about Schumann's life, friends, family, as well as his sad and tragic fate, including many chapters concerning his last years. Schumann was not only a great Romantic composer, who arrived at the scene of composing relatively late; he was also a great human being, who had many sides and was extremely passionate and resolute.
This is a biography which will surely be the most authoritative one for years to come .
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Schumann reconsidered 25 août 2013
Par Matthews Stephen - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
In this carefully researched biography Worthen has an overriding goal, namely to chronicle Schumann's life and work without the assumption that they were plagued by worsening mental disorder. He acknowledges that Schumann became insane in his last two years, but argues rather persuasively that this had a physiological cause, the symptoms being consistent with tertiary syphilis. It is therefore not necessary (though it remains possible) to assume earlier depressive or even schizophrenic pathology, and to allow this to colour interpretation of his life and music.
Yet all this biographical detail is really only of interest in so far as it sheds light on Schumann as a composer. Only rarely does Worthen seek to do this in any depth. Some of his judgments of a musical nature are questionable. Regarding the Piano concerto for example, Worthen suggests that "it would be impossible to guess that the three movements did not belong to a single creative moment; they match perfectly" (p. 262). Others would argue that the later movements lack the inspired quality of the Phantasie in A minor that became the first movement. This raises the question of the changes in Schumann's style after his acknowledged early masterpieces: if they do not reflect declining mental powers, what is their nature?
Ironically, an Epilogue suggests that Worthen is quite capable of illuminating musical analysis: here he provides a rich reading of the song Der Spielmann, with its allusions to madness.
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