doubt and composition

The presenters on ABC Classic, my favourite radio station, sometimes provide little bits of information about classical composers in between the music. Since I know very little about music history, I find it quite interesting, and will often make an effort to stop and listen to what they say.

This week I learnt that Clara Schumann, one of the world’s greatest composers and pianists, experienced a lot of self-doubt about her worth as a composer, and, despite her obvious talent, not to mention her own enjoyment of composing, felt that it was not a suitable endeavour for her (or other women — such were the times back then).

She was also limited by needing to support her family (she had seven children) after the death of her husband, Robert Schumann, at a relatively young age. She spent much of the rest of her life playing piano recitals/concerts in order to stay afloat financially.

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thought fragments

This year has disappeared in a whirlwind of long days and late nights.

It has been a year of plaintive farewells, and cheerful greetings.

I have done so much, and not enough, and there’s still so much to do.

But it’s a humid Summer’s day, and all I want to do is lie on my bed with the aircon on.

Or maybe go out and have a few drinks with friends.

Or listen to classical music while reading a good book.

I want to share the music of Rachmaninoff, but I can’t decide which piece I like most.

Not long ago, ABC Classic played part of his Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, and I stopped whatever I was doing, and listened until the end.

Earlier this year, I learnt that Rachmaninoff struggled with depression throughout his career. He received harsh criticisms about some of his compositions, which made him question his worth as a composer.

But he sought help, he did better, and now he’s remembered and celebrated as one of Russia’s greatest composers.

I wonder if next year will be “quiet”.

The years seem to alternate between tranquil and turbulent, and there aren’t many ways in which this year could have been more turbulent (although there are still about two and half weeks left, so I wouldn’t be surprised if something happened…)

Or maybe the years don’t alternate, and I just made that up.

Thick, grey clouds have gathered, and there’s a cool breeze blowing now.

Maybe it will storm later.