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Music column

Schumann Forum 2010

Schumann: The Piano Concerto

by Wolf-Dieter Seiffert

01. February


Mitsuko Uchida

Mozart wrote far more than 20 piano concertos, Beethoven accomplished five. Schumann composed ”only“ one piano concerto – but what a masterpiece! Pianists and fans of classical music the world over adore it beyond all measure.

In a few short weeks Robert Schumann’s Piano Concerto will be published in a brand-new G. Henle Urtext edition. To our great satisfaction, no one other than Mitsuko Uchida was willing to act as artistic council and provide and contribute the fingerings for this edition.

Dame Uchida has long been closely connected to Henle, but until now we were never able to convince her to engage in active collaboration. Opus 54 was the changing point. We hope that you will be as enthusiastic over the result as we are.

Listen here to the phone conversation I had with Dame Mitsuko Uchida on January 27, 2010. We took the opportunity to talk about the new Urtext edition (in German):


The extraordinary musician, Dame Mitsuko Uchida, reveals her very personal relationship to Schumann’s extraordinary work here:


And here is the YouTube-clip of her Schumann concert with the Berlin Philharmonics, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle on September 13, 2009:


You can see the cover of the new Henle Urtext edition here, complete with bibliographical data.


» Breitkopf & Härtel, the renowned Schumann publishers are our partners for the publication of the Urtext score and orchestra material which is also available.

Mainly the work of the editors at Henle is to supervise the work of renowned musicologists who edit the music of composers for which they are known to be specialists. However, even since Henle was founded, their editors themselves have often also presented their “own” editions. Thus, my colleague at Henle, Dr. Peter Jost who is an acclaimed Schumann expert, was entrusted to edit the Piano Concerto himself.

On January 25, 2010 Peter Jost and I talked about the details of his work, and the challenges he met in editing Schumann’s Piano Concerto.

In this interview he comments on the sources, the problems involved and also explains why, in his opinion, the Henle edition will certainly be commended as an important reference volume of Schumann’s Piano Concerto.

The complete interview is available here for you to read. It also includes an image of Schumann’s autograph.
» Interview with Dr. Peter Jost (PDF)

All those of you whose interest goes even further I would like to point to the preface in the Henle edition. Our website offers the prefaces (and even the critical commentaries) of all Henle editions for reading and free downloading. Follow this link to the Schumann concerto:
» Schumann op. 54

I came across a superb article (in German language) on Schumann’s Piano Concerto, written by Thomas Pehlken. The article is located on the homepage of
», 100 Meisterwerke“, zu Schumann op. 54 (in German)

Last but not least I’d like to add something to chuckle about:


The following funny story has been related for years now: Daniel Barenboim and Zubin Mehta, who are friends for many, many years, are performing op. 54 with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. It’s extremely hot, and Barenboim asks Mehta to wait with the difficult cue for the pianist until he gives him a sign. But Mehta enters the stage and immediately nods his head for the orchestra to start:  


Barenboim hardly accomplishes his first accords. The final accord of the first movement has barely faded out, as Barenboim pulls out a handkerchief, evidently because of the heat. „Quid pro quo“: But he immediately drops the handkerchief and starts to play the slow movement. Understandably Mehta is now in difficulties of some sorts:

Luckily, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra knows Schumann’s Piano Concerto well enough to manage without the conductor.

Well then, that was our start into the Schumann-Forum 2010. Please recommend us to any Schumann fans you know. Please write to me and let me know what has pleased you, or also what you might not have liked:
» For all of us this is the beginning of a long and exciting Schumann anniversary year. I for my part am greatly looking forward to it.

Davidsbündler greetings!

Dr. Wolf-Dieter Seiffert
(Managing Director G. Henle Verlag)



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