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For the last 28 months of his life, the composer Robert Schumann was confined to an insane asylum in Endenich, now a neighbourhood of Bonn. In Musicophilia - Tales of Music and the Brain, author Oliver Sacks includes this gripping anecdote of Schumann's last days: “Auditory hallucinations now overwhelmed him, degenerating first into ‘angelic,’ then into ‘demonic’ music, and finally into a single, ‘terrible’ note, an A, which played ceaselessly day and night, with unbearable intensity.”
The line “so hilf Du mir, Herr Jesu Christ, in meinem letzten Leiden” (so help me, Lord Jesus Christ, in my last suffering) comes from a chorale harmonisation that Schumann composed at Endenich – some of the last music he ever wrote. This piece incorporates the chorale in both a quartet of horns and a quartet of cellos. There are also references to Clara Schumann, Johannes Brahms and Joseph Joachim, relating to Robert Schumann’s extensive use of musical ciphers and coded messages.
Written with the support of the University of Otago Mozart Fellowship and as the 2012 Auckland Youth Orchestra Composer-in-Residence.
21 Sep 2012: Performed by Auckland Youth Orchestra conducted by Antun Poljanich at Birkenhead College, in Auckland
29 Sep 2012: Performed by Auckland Youth Orchestra conducted by Antun Poljanich at Forum North, in Whangarei
30 Sep 2012: Performed by Auckland Youth Orchestra conducted by Antun Poljanich at Helensville War Memorial Hall
05 Oct 2012: Performed by Auckland Youth Orchestra conducted by Antun Poljanich at the Auckland Town Hall