Now, Schumann, I've heard he had bipolar disorder.
Interesting question, because it's really difficult doing retrospective psychiatric diagnoses on historical figures.
I have enough difficulty getting it right with live patients.
But Schumann wrote letters which really clearly lay out a sense of mania.
He said," I feel so pressured."
"I feel in a divine mood.
: "I'm so overflowing with sounds that if I could just scribble them all down, I would have composed 100 symphonies."
That sounds like a manic episode.
There were also long stretches where he didn't compose at all.
Because when he was depressed, he not only had trouble concentrating, be it diminished energy, felt hopeless, suicidal thoughts.
He had this delusional conviction that he was actually a worthless composer.
He suffered enormously.
He invented two imaginary companions to comfort him during times of stress.
And he called them Eusebius and Florestan.
Eusebius: a melancholic, introverted poetic dreamer.
Florestan, by constrast, was an aggressive, impetuous, frenetic individual.
Probably not too much of a stretch to suggest that Eusebius represented the depressive side of Schumann's persona and Florestan represented the manic side.
Now, you know, presence of imaginary companions.
It's very common among children.
When grown-ups conjure up imaginary companions, it's either a sign of a very active imagination or warning sign that psychosis is imminent.
In Schumann's case, it was a sign of both.
♪♪ Fortunately, there's a piano in the library's main hall because Richard is the only psychiatrist in the world who's a Schumann expert and a Juilliard trained concert pianist.
♪♪ That is from a piece called "Florestan" from Schumann's piano suite "Carnival."
The whole piece, "Carnival" is based on a wildly imaginative premise he composed when he was 25.
He was engaged to a woman named Ernestine.
Ernestine came from a town called Asch.
Asch is spelled A-S-C-H, and Schumann noticed that those letters in Asch were also letters in his name, in his name, in the Schumann.
They were the only four letters in his name that corresponded to musical notes.
This is A here -- and S in German is ES or E flat.
So this is S -- this is C -- and H is the German counterpart to the note B.
So that's H here.
So Schumann played around with these letters, with these notes.
A-S-C-H. And he came up with...
He said, "All right, that's one thing I can do with A-S-C-H." He thought to himself, "What else?"
ASCH, and he invented... ♪♪ And he continued thinking to himself, A-S-C-H And he came up with... ♪♪ To take four kind of random notes.
And do that.
It's certainly not how other people are composing music at this time.
His contemporaries thought the piece was incomprehensible.
Chopin, for instance, was born the same year as Sharon Chopin, the great Polish composer.
He said that he did not even consider "Carnival" to be music.
So actually, let me share with you some of what contemporary music critics said.
"An affectation of originality, a superficial knowledge of art, the absence of true expression, and an infelicitous distain of form is characterized every work of Robert Schumann.
They're uncouth, faded and wanting in clearness.
This would be neither the first nor the last time that a great piece of music was not immediately appreciated as such.
The imaginative leaps of the truly creative mind often take years, sometimes even decades to be appreciated and enjoyed.
And I feel that it actually is important to understand Schumann's mind in order to appreciate his music.