Central Park Conservatory Garden, September

01img_0201_edited-1The photographs were taken at the Central Park Conservatory Garden September 20, 2016.

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Listening List

Robert Schumann, Kreisleriana, Op. 16 (1838)

Louise Fishman‘s stunning painting, Kreisleriana (2015), re-introduced me to Schumann’s composition, and I listen to it often. Painter Rebecca Allen wrote of Fishman’s Kreisleriana and her work as a whole:

Kreisleriana, (2015), divides the canvas into vertical bands of fiery yellows, reds, and blues that suggest the emotional contrasts of Robert Schumann’s work for solo piano. Because music is the most abstract art form, paintings in response to it can often be lame (illustrative) equivalents. That doesn’t happen here.

I see Fishman’s paintings in this domain as a reflection of her deep intellect and nuanced understanding of spatial and rhythmic structure. They are influenced by the focus and attention of a deep listener, but they are independent objects. At the top of her game, Louise Fishman translates aural, physical, and visual experiences into radiant and muscular works of art whose tension is maintained by the grid that anchors her fierce gesture. Her hard-won joie de vivre, born of new travels, immersion in music, and a contented relationship, underscore this substantive, if belated retrospective. [citation]

From program notes on Schumann’s work:

To understand the origins of this Romantic masterpiece by Robert Schumann, one must start with E.T.A. Hoffmann (1776-1822) the German writer, painter, critique, composer and caricaturist who studied law, the sciences, arts and music at the University of Konigsberg and became one of the first creators of short fantasy and horror stories. To say that he had an unsettled life would be an understatement, yet the influence of his writings on art, music and even psychology was far-reaching. . . .

It has been argued with much justification that Hoffmann and Schumann were kindred spirits, that Hoffmann inspired Schumann. . . .  in Hoffmann’s “Kreisleriana” a mad musician, the Kapellmeister Kreisler appears. Kreisler is depicted as a dashing, crazed figure of a genius musician whose personality is so hypersensitive that he is constantly drawn between his visions, dreams and reality, searching for his special heaven that might grant him the peace and serenity for the creation of his music. A better description of Schumann’s personality would be hard to find, although because of the age difference, Schumann could not have been the model for Kreisler. [citation]


Credits: The sources for the quotations are as indicated in the post. The photographs, as always on the blog unless otherwise indicated, are mine.


9 thoughts on “Central Park Conservatory Garden, September

  1. David N

    So much blooming still – same at Kew today, the experts know what still flowers, which clearly I don’t for all-year-rund colour.

    Probably wrong of me to wish to make Schumann’s Kreisleriana more programmatic, but I wonder exactly what he had in mind of Hoffmann’s stories and creations when he wrote these pieces – of which the second is one my all-time favourites – or whether he just meant to create several moods. Anyway, I think most of the character in one of the great novels, The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr, in which Kreisler’s and Kater Murr’s tales alternate…

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      David: Yes, I was also amazed at the profusion of blooms, and you’re right, these expert gardeners know how to pick for (almost) year-round color. Interesting question on Schumann’s intentions. Certainly, the result is splendid, either way.

  2. Friko

    I cannot believe how perfect each and every plant is. Aren’t there any slugs, insects birds, whatever creature tucks into plants in any ordinary garden?

    And Schumann, well, yes, simple taste girl me can do Schumann, Love Schumann even.

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      Friko: Always wonderful to “see” you here. As to that perfection, well, this garden is meticulously tended, including by dedicated volunteers, so that might explain some of it. Perhaps sometime I should go looking for beautiful flaws! Schumann is wonderful, isn’t he? Who could not love this piece, particularly?

  3. Brigitta “Britta” Huegel

    Beautiful Central Park Garden photos – thank you, Sue, it reminds me of my visits with Alina there.
    Can you imagine that through a shallow movie I (an analphabet in classic music) came to Schubert and Schumann – they played: “Ein Lied auf dem Wasser zu singen” , I think Hermann Prey-version- gorgeous and moving to tears. And my friend Anne, who has just visited me in Berlin, told me of Christian Gerhaher – I instantly ordered a CD – do you know him?

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      Britta: Lovely to “see” you here, and glad to offer you a nice remembrance of yours and Alina’s times in the garden. I love your movie reference, too. I am definitely aware of the much-lauded Gerhaher. I actually heard him perform, on the Berlin Philharmonic’s Digital Concert Hall, in Peter Sellarsʼ staging of Johann Sebastian Bachʼs Matthew Passion. Now YOU, lucky one (and yes, we must get to Berlin one day, too), surely must have the opportunity to hear him live at the Berlin Phil from time to time!

  4. shoreacres

    I’m happy that you were able to duck over to the garden, and bask in the beauty there! I’m glad I saw the turtle, too. When that photo appeared in the slide show, I was so surprised by the duck, I missed the turtle. Then, on second glance, there it was.

    One of the places I never visited in NYC was Central Park. Clearly, the image I have of it is too simplistic. I had no idea there was such a beautiful garden there, or that volunteers help to keep it up.

    What struck me even more than the flowers was the variety of foliage. I recognized what I think are coleus, but much is unfamiliar. I do think I spotted something else we share, though: inland sea oats, aka Indian sea oats. It’s not shown as native to New York state, but it’s in surrounding states, and there’s no reason it wouldn’t suit a garden there. That photo is one of a pair you have that shows shades of maroon combined with chartreusey foliage — so nice!

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      shoreacres: It’s amazing the number of people I know who live full time in New York City who have never been to the garden. I’m not typically a fan of coleus, but the plantings are so artfully done they give even the humblest plants exalted status. I think the oat grass is Northern sea oats grass, but that’s only a guess from a quick search.

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