Through restful waters and deep commotion

It’s Robert Schumann’s 200th birthday today. Happy birthday! Over at The Faster Times, there’s some more celebratory rambling, in which I propose that Schumann was, among other things, the first great classical-music fan. One bit of evidence: as far as I can tell, Schumann is the first composer to use the B-A-C-H motive as a tribute, in his six op. 60 Fugues. (Beethoven, apparently, did toss around the idea of a B-A-C-H overture, but never actually wrote it.) Here’s Silvio Celeghin playing the second of Schumann’s B-A-C-H fugues on one of Schumann’s favorite instruments, the incredibly cool pedal piano:

Incidentally, the more I think about it, the more the comparison I make between Schumann and Brian Wilson holds up. One other parallel: they both love repetition, taking comfort and sustenance in particularly nourishing harmonic or melodic loops. When you think about it, both musically and biographically, “Sail On Sailor” might be the most Schumannesque rock song ever written.

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