Catapulting into Classical

A headlong leap into music, history, and composing

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Schumann Goes to the Movies?

Robert Schumann, 1850

The other day I decided I would listen to some Mozart overtures.  DSO Replay has an “Outstanding Overtures” category, and there a number of overtures from their recent MozartFest.

I looked away for a bit, and suddenly, I realized it wasn’t Mozart I was listening to anymore.  The style was different.  In fact, it sounded like the soundtrack to an action movie, maybe one with a romantic plot line as well.  If you closed your eyes, you could imagine the credits rolling on the screen.  What was this?

It turned out it was Schumann’s Overture to Manfred.

Seeing that it’s an overture, you might be thinking, “Schumann wrote opera?” Well, he wrote one, Genoveva, that was poorly received at the time.*  Manfred is not an opera, it’s incidental music, that is, music that is intended to set a mood (or accompany a play; and if you look it up, it has now become synonymous with soundtrack).  The Overture to Manfred was written about the same time as Genoveva.  It is based on the poem Manfred by Lord Byron.  It includes an overture, choral and solo performances, and musical interludes.

If this is a soundtrack, here is the plot.  The poem Manfred tells the story of a man consumed by guilt for some sin which remains unnamed.  He grieves for Astarte (he may have had something to do with her death), and conjures spirits to help him forget. They can’t help him.  He attempts suicide and fails.  He sees Astarte, who tells him he will die the next day, and he does.  You can read and download the poem in a modern PDF file hereYou can read and download it as a scan of the 1817 publication here.

Byron was living with the family of poet Percy Bysshe Shelley at the time, and they entertained each other with gothic tales of ghosts and horror.  Mary Shelley was in the midst of writing Frankenstein.

When Schumann read Manfred, he was greatly affected by it, and immediately started writing music for it.  The poem is also the inspiration for Tchaikovsky’s Manfred Symphony.

I hope you will enjoy the overtureIf you would like to see the entire work, it can be seen here.  The score may be found here.


*One opera house turned it down.  When it was finally performed, there were only three performances.  There are occasional revivals.3  In 2008 Nikolaus Harnoncourt recorded Genoveva as a staged performance (it is available on DVD).4



  1. Manfred, Byron’s poem and Manfred, Schumann’s composition


Image attribution: Photograph of Robert Schumann by Johann Anton Völlner, Hamburg [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Mozart Mania: Over 8 Hours of Free Webcasts Now Available!


More Mozart than you can shake a baton at!

More Mozart than you can Handel!

Ok, I’ll stop now.

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra has made all six programs of its MozartFest concert series available on YouTube until March 3, 2017.  That’s over eight hours of music available for your viewing and listening enjoyment.  Here’s the link for the “Mo-Fest BingeFest playlist.”

Here’s what you can see.


to Cosi fan Tutte

to Don Giovanni

to La Clemenza di Tito

to The Marriage of Figaro

to The Magic Flute

to The Abduction from the Seraglio


Bassoon Concerto

Flute Concerto

Concerto for Flute and Harp (exquisite!)

Horn Concertos 1, 2, 3, and 4

Oboe Concerto


No 35, “Haffner”

No 36, “Linz”

No. 38, “Prague”

No. 39

No. 40

No. 41, “Jupiter”

But wait, there’s more!

Eine kleine Nachtmusik


Sinfonia Concertante

You can also see works by Beethoven, Brahms, Debussy, Mahler, Bruckner, Schumann, Tchaikovsky and more on the Detroit Symphony Orchestra channel.  Click the Videos tab to see what’s available.

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Free Live Webcast: Joshua Bell and the National Symphony Orchestra


Joshua Bell

On February 11, 2017 at 8:00PM EST (GMT-5), will present a concert by Joshua Bell and the National Symphony Orchestra.  The live webcast is free.  Here is the link.

The program will include Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 and Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole.  The latter will include a dance performance by the Dance Heginbotham dance company.

The performance will also be streaming on the Facebook channel.

If you won’t be able to watch the live webcast, it will be available on demand at for 90 days.


  3. “Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92”


Binge Watching Brendel’s Schubert

Franz Schubert

I found a series of videos of Alfred Brendel playing Schubert impromptus, moments musicaux, and more that I wanted to share with you.

Here are some Schubert impromptus, D. 935

Here are some Moments musicaux, D. 780

Here are some more impromptus, D. 899

Here are Drei Klavierstücke. D. 946

Here is the Fantasie in C Major, D. 760, the Wanderer Fantasy

And if you’re really committed to binge watching (got four hours?), here are Schubert’s Piano Sonatas 14-21.

I think I’m going to need a bigger bowl of popcorn.


Image attribution: Portrait of Franz Schubert by Wilhelm August Rieder [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons,

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From Prague to Jupiter—Mozart Symphonies: Free Live Webcast Today!

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra is presenting the final program in its MozartFest today, February 4, 2017, at 8:00PM EST (GMT -5).  Here’s the program:

Symphony No 38, “Prague”

Concerto for Flute and Harp

Symphony No 41, “Jupiter”

What a fantastic lineup!  There will be a preconcert presentation, “Mozart from Practical to Sublime” at 7:00PM EST.  And if you’d like to brush up on how a harp works before hearing the delightful Concerto for Flute and Harp, you can read my harp post here.

You can see the webcast at  Enjoy!



Symphony No. 38

Concerto for Flute and Harp,_Harp,_and_Orchestra_(Mozart)

Symphony No 41

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Night Music in the Morning: Mozart’s Nachtmusik and More Free at the DSO

I wear my sunglasses at night.

On Friday, February 3, 2017 at 10:45 AM (GMT -5) the Detroit Symphony will feature another free concert webcast in its MozartFest series.  Here’s the program:

Eine Kleine Nachtmusik

Symphony No 35, “Haffner”

Overture to The Abduction from the Seraglio

Symphony No. 36, “Linz”

You can see it at