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University of Iowa News Release

April 15, 2005

UI Faculty Perform Schumann Songs April 29

Soprano Rachel Joselson and pianist Uriel Tsachor, faculty members at the University of Iowa School of Music, will present a program of songs by Robert Schumann at 8 p.m. Friday, April 29, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

The performance will be free and open to the public.

Joselson and Tsachor will perform three groups of songs: "Zwoelf Gedichte" (Twelve poems) op. 35, a setting of poems by Justinus Kerner; "Sechs Gedichte" (Six poems) op. 36, a setting of poems by Robert Reinick; and "Frauenliebe und -leben" (Women's lives and loves) op. 42, a cycle of songs based on poems by Adalbert von Chamisso.

All three sets were composed in 1840, which is known as Schumann's year of songs. In fact, he wrote more than half of his considerable output of songs in that one year.

It was also the year in which Schumann was finally able to marry Clara Wieck, whose father had tried for several years to prevent the marriage. Clara was a very talented pianist, and her father apparently wanted to retain control of her career. Only after she turned 21 and Schumann sued in the German courts was she able break free of her father and marry. The lengthy legal case was finally resolved in the summer of 1840, and the young couple was married in the village church at Schoenefeld, a suburb of Leipzig, on Sept. 12.

Schumann turned to song writing in 1840, both as an outpouring of his emotions as the case was being resolved and he was finally able to marry Clara, and also because songs could easily be sold to German publishers and therefore represented a good course of income for the young family.

The best-known songs on the program is the cycle "Frauenliebe und -leben." The text of the cycle is a set of poems by German naturalist and poet Adalbert von Chamisso, who is chiefly remembered for his 1814 story "The Strange Story of Peter Schlemihl," about a man who sold his shadow to the devil. Chamisso served in the court of William II of Prussia and was appointed keeper of the Royal Botanical Gardens.

Chamisso's poetry belongs to the early 19th-century style known as "Biedermeier," which emphasized domestic subject matter in art and literature. Looking at the musical settings of Chamisso's "Frauenliebe" series from a modern perspective, Joselson says they are "clearly an example of men using musical language to construct images of women in their compositions."

"Conventional images permeate Chamisso's cycle," she explains. "Scenes of domestic life, blue eyes regularly brimming with tears, and the experience of heart-wrenching pain -- in short, an early 19th-century epitome of love and marriage."

The cycle covers the incidents in a woman's life from the first time she sees her beloved. The first three poems present the idea of mutual love between a young man and woman. Two poems concern the wedding ring and wedding day, and are followed by two poems about the conception and birth of their child. Another poem express the feelings and thoughts of the woman after her husband's death. This is where Schumann ends his settings of the poetry, having opted to not set the final poem, which reveals that the cycle will begin anew in the life of the granddaughter.

Before joining the School of Music faculty in the fall of 1997, Joselson spent 13 years in Europe performing in opera and concert with theaters and orchestras in Darmstadt, Hamburg, Berlin, Bonn, Basel, Barcelona, Bilbao, Braunschweig, Brussels, Kiel, St. Gallen, Trier, and other cities in Germany, Switzerland and Spain. In this country she has appeared in Atlanta, Indianapolis, Madison, Johnson City, Tenn., and New Brunswick, N.J.

In the 1995-96 season she had her first engagement at the Metropolitan Opera, and was engaged by London's Covent Garden for their 1992 Japan tour with Mozart's "Don Giovanni."

She has performed many of the major soprano roles in the repertoire, including Leonore in Beethoven's "Fidelio"; Mimi in Puccini's "La Boheme," Micaela in Bizet's "Carmen," Melisande in Debussy's "Pelleas et Melisande," Donna Elvira in Mozart's "Don Giovanni," Tosca, Elisabetta in Verdi's Don Carlo, and Eva in Wagner's "Meistersingers of Nuremberg." She is currently recording a CD of the songs of Swiss composer Arthur Honegger. Most recently she performed a recital of song and arias at the Chicago Cultural Center, debuted "Madame Butterfly" with Chicago's American Opera Group, and sang the title role in Smetana's "Bartered Bride" with Cedar Rapids Opera Theater.

Uriel Tsachor joined the faculty of the UI School of Music in the fall of 1988. A Steinway artist, Tsachor was a winner of the Bosendorfer Empire International Competition in 1986 and the Busoni Competition in 1985, and a laureate of the Queen Elisabeth Piano Competition in 1983. He is a graduate of the Rubin Academy in Tel-Aviv, Israel, and the Juilliard School in New York. He has performed as a soloist in Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem, New York, Chicago, Vienna, Paris and other cities around the world.

Tsachor has performed with the Israel Philharmonic by invitation from Zubin Mehta. He has also appeared as soloist with the New York City Symphony, the Teatro La Fenice Symphony in Venice and the National Orchestra of Belgium, among others. He has performed both live and in recordings for radio and television stations in Israel, Europe and the United States, and he has made 18 recordings for the EMI, Musical Heritage Society, PHONIC, DIVOX, Olympia and EMS labels. In November 1999 the Paris-based label CALLIOPE released a two-CD set of the complete violin and piano sonatas and arrangements by Brahms, featuring Tsachor and violinist Andrew Hardy.

The School of Music is part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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