Robert SchumannnSymphony no. 1 in B flat major, ‘Spring Symphony’
Schumann sketched out his début symphony in no less than four days in January 1841 and completed the orchestral score less than a month later. On the last day of March, his close friend Felix Mendelssohn conducted the premiere of the work to an enthusiastic reception in Leipzig.
Schumann’s Symphony in B flat major was inspired by a poem about spring by Adolf Böttger, and Schumann initially gave its movements titles: ‘The Beginning of Spring’, ‘Evening’, ‘Merry Playmates’ and ‘Spring in Full Bloom’. Although he abandoned this idea, the subtitle ‘Spring Symphony’ stuck, and indeed its brisk and buoyant atmosphere well reflects its original inspiration.
Schumann liked to build motif affinity into his symphonies. In the Symphony in B flat major, the brass signal opening the introduction to the first movement acquires the status of a leading motif for the entire work, as it is also the source for the main subject of the fast section of the first movement and the main subject of the slow second movement. The main subject of the Scherzo, on the other hand, is a variant of a motif that emerges towards the end of the slow movement. Schumann extended the form of this movement by adding two contrasting Trio sections, creating a rondo-like overall form of A-B-A-C-A. The Finale is both energetic and light-footed, and Schumann’s original idea of ‘spring in full bloom’ does not seem at all far-fetched.
Shortened from Kimmo Korhonen's work presentation
Translation: Jaakko Mäntyjärvi