2025 Premiere Series Concerti

 

Understanding the stories behind compositions can make the listening experience more enriching. As we near the season announcement of the 2025 American Pianists Awards, we offer a glimpse of the concerti for the Premiere Series with a brief look into the lives of composers at the times they wrote these pieces.

sheet music of a Mozart concerto

Each piece not only highlights the extraordinary talents of Clara Schumann, Robert Schumann, Mozart and Chopin but also reflects the personal journeys and historical contexts that shaped their music. From the youthful exuberance of Clara Schumann's early work to the romantic depths of her husband's concerto, and from Mozart's innovative genius to Chopin's poetic expression, these concerti offer a glimpse into the emotional and creative worlds of these composers.

 

Clara Schumann Piano Concerto, Op. 7

Composed when Clara Schumann was just 14 years old, her Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 7, reflects the talent and youthful exuberance of one of the 19th century's most remarkable women. Clara was a prodigy, heavily influenced by her father Friedrich Wieck, who was her piano teacher and promoter. During this time, Clara was gaining fame as a concert pianist, touring Europe and dazzling audiences. She premiered this piece in 1835 with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra conducted by Felix Mendelssohn.

Clara first met Robert Schumann when he came to study with Mr. Wieck in 1830. In 1840, Clara and Robert married, over her father’s strenuous objections. Their love story is one of the most famous in classical music history, and as Clara and Robert's relationship blossomed, it deeply influenced their musical careers.

Clara’s Op. 7, with its youthful spirit and virtuosic demands, captures the early stages of her journey both as an artist and as a woman on the cusp of personal and professional transformation.

 

Robert Schumann Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54

Robert Schumann's Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54, is a work born out of his deep love for Clara Wieck, whom he married in 1840 despite her father's aforementioned opposition. The concerto, completed in 1845, is infused with the warmth and tenderness of their relationship. At the time, Robert was struggling with periods of depression, but Clara's unwavering support and their mutual dedication to music provided a source of strength and inspiration.

It was Clara who encouraged her husband to write his Piano Concerto, and she premiered the piece on December 4, 1845 in Dresden. It is his only piano concerto and is one of the most widely performed and recorded concertos from the Romantic period. The work is a musical embodiment of their partnership, showcasing Robert's compositional genius and Clara's exceptional artistry, making it a timeless testament to their enduring love and collaboration.

 

stage of concerto
2017 Premiere Series

 

Mozart Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major, K. 467

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart composed his Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major, K. 467, in 1785, during a period of incredible creativity and success. Living in Vienna, Mozart was at the height of his fame, captivating audiences with his performances and compositions. Mozart completed his Concerto No. 21 only a month after his previous D minor concerto, K. 466. He would write four more in the next 21 months.

At this time, Mozart was enjoying the fruits of his labor, having recently moved into a spacious apartment and establishing himself as a central figure in Vienna's musical life. The concerto's serene second movement, with its gentle, flowing melodies, offers a glimpse into Mozart's ability to convey profound emotion and beauty. This work reflects the composer's joy and optimism, capturing the essence of his genius during one of the most productive periods of his career.

 

Chopin Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. 11

Frédéric Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. 11, composed in 1830, is a showcase of the young composer's unique voice and poetic sensibility. At the time, Chopin was just 20 years old and living in Warsaw, preparing to embark on his first concert tour. This period was marked by a sense of anticipation and hope, as he was eager to share his music with the wider world.

Chopin premiered the piece himself on October 12, 1830 at the National Theater in Warsaw to a full house, and his performance was followed by "thunderous applause," according to the local newspaper.

Shortly after, the November Uprising engulfed Poland, and Chopin left the country. The concerto became a poignant reminder of his homeland, blending nationalistic elements with his signature expressive style. This piece remains a beloved part of the piano repertoire, celebrated for its emotional depth and technical brilliance.

 

Mozart Piano Concerto No. 9 in E-flat major, K. 271

Mozart composed his Piano Concerto No. 9 in E-flat major, K. 271, in Salzburg in 1777, when he was 21 years old. Often referred to as the "Jeunehomme" concerto, he composed the work for Victoire Jenamy, the daughter of dancer and ballet master Jean-Georges Noverre. Mozart performed the concerto at a private concert on October 4, 1777 (Jenamy may have premiered the work earlier), and it marked a significant step forward in Mozart's development as a composer. At the time, Mozart was living in Salzburg but yearning for greater artistic opportunities beyond his hometown. This concerto, with its innovative structure and expressive range, has been called Mozart's first fully mature piano concerto.

The period between October 1773 and January 1777 marked Mozart’s musical coming-of-age. Settling back in his hometown of Salzburg, he devoted himself to composing and performing in his capacity as Concertmaster to the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg after spending years on the road traveling with his father and sister from one European capital to another. Mozart began his looking for his next stop in the summer of 1777, finally breaking with Salzburg in 1783. Thus, this concerto dates from near the end of this relatively settled period, capturing the spirit of a young composer on the brink of greatness.

 

Look for more information about the 2025 Awards coming soon!

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