Franz Schubert’s fantasy about an impossible love

Schubert Fantasy F minor
A glimmer of hope. © Charles Thibo

“Schubert seems to be in love for real with Countess E. I like that. He gives her lessons.” A single line in Eduard Bauernfeld’s diary. The Viennese writer was a friend of Franz Schubert and he certainly wished the composer well – a stable, loving relationship with a respectable and inspiring woman. And Schubert was indeed in love with his piano student Caroline Esterhazy de Galantha. In 1824, the composer had spent a summer at the castle of Caroline’s family in Zselitz an der Gran, today called Zeliezovce and located in Slovakia. During the spring of 1828, a few months before his death, Schubert wrote a piano piece for four hands that forces the pianists to cross arms – with the remote possibility of touching each other. What a thrill!

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Virtuosic ornaments on a Baroque background

Music like a summer day. © Charles Thibo

Stepping out of the shadow of a famous father is always a challenge. Especially if that father is Johann Sebastian Bach. But it can be done. Better, Christian Philipp Emmanuel Bach stepped out of his father’s shadow without betraying his heritage and, much to his family’s glory and satisfaction, his music quickly evolved from the Baroque forms he had learned from his father to what was the fashion of the day at the Prussian court in Berlin or in Hamburg, where he would take up the post of Georg Philipp Telemann after the latter’s death.

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Rachmaninov’s piano music and delicate fragrances

Roman roses. © Charles Thibo

It has become a tradition by now: At my birthday I offer myself a birthday post about a piece I cannot get enough of plus a picture, linked to nice souvenirs, and of course a relaxed listening session with the music that birthday post is about. I shall celebrate today with Sergei Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in F sharp minor.

The recording by the Royal Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Howard Shelley is one of the oldest CDs in my collection. And Rachmaninov’s first piano concerto is a cherished one. It’s so easy-going, light-hearted, jaunty – invariably it launches me into positive thinking.

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From Finland with love

Land of lakes. © Charles Thibo
I had been waiting for so long. Going to Finland! Yes! My former biology teacher regularly passed his holidays in Finland, his daughters have Sami names if my memory does nokt betray me, and if you gave him the right keyword he would launch into an eulogy of the landscape, the people, their traditions, the peace and the solitude. Though his enthusiasm secretly amused us at the time, his passion had moved me and left a lasting impression. But somehow I didn’t find an occasion to go there – until last year.

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