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Emanuel Ax Plays Brahms

September 13 @ 8:00 pm - 10:30 pm

Our season-opening festival FOCUS: Clara, Robert, Johannes​ celebrates the abiding friendship between Clara and Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms who encouraged and inspired each other through lives of prolific creativity, troubling uncertainty, and perhaps even unrequited love.

Johannes Brahms came into Clara and Robert’s lives as an aspiring composer, and the couple’s recognition of Brahms’s genius made Johannes a sensation almost overnight. Brahms began work on his Piano Concerto No. 1 when Robert Schumann suffered a breakdown from which he never recovered, less than a year into their friendship. Renowned American pianist Emanuel Ax finds the beauty in tragedy and in the growing connection between Johannes and Clara in his masterful performance of Brahms’s first piano concerto.

Clara Wieck Schumann was a wildly successful concert pianist and an accomplished composer, particularly in the Lied (art song) repertoire. She composed and gave three Lieder to Robert on their first Christmas together as newlyweds.

Like many young men, Robert Schumann spent several years finding his way—studying law, struggling to be a concert pianist, and even dabbling in novel writing. When he turned to music composition, Clara’s tireless championing of her husband’s music transformed his initially unsuccessful musical reputation. The premiere of Robert’s Symphony No. 1, “Spring,” was conducted by their friend Felix Mendelssohn.


September 13
8:00 pm - 10:30 pm
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National Arts Centre
1 Elgin Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5W1 Canada
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