Robert Schumann and Vincent Van Gogh, Their Beautiful Mind 6/4/18

June 4, 2018

I recently had a chance to see the movie “Vincent Van Gogh: A New Way of Seeing”, which is a documentary film directed by David Bickerstaff. The movie shows Van Gogh’s iconic works and featuring exclusive interviews with the amazing curatorial team at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. Perhaps more than any other artist, Van Gogh’s life (1853-1890) has long captured the imagination of storytellers. This film gives us an intimate look at Vincent’s life through his brother, Theo Van Gogh’s letter collection, as well as the over 200 paintings he inherited after his brother’s death. Van Gogh’s fascinating and sometimes deeply troubled world is well presented in this documentary.

And in the same week I went to hear the dress rehearsal of Robert Schumann’s “Das Paradies und die Peri” by LA Phil at Disney Concert Hall, the oratorio Schumann (1810-1956) wrote in 1843.  Although his life was difficult in many ways Robert Schumann nonetheless composed music that elevates us through his beautiful mind and amazing musical sense. I personally love Schumann’s music deeply, and recently performed his piano quartet Op. 47 (as a part of LA Phil’s Schumann Focus), Davidsbundlertanze Op. 6 and Kreisleriana Op. 16. This oratorio is not played often, but is one of his finest compositions which Clara adored. The oratorio tells that Peri, who is a fairy-like spirit from Persian mythology, somewhere between an angel and a devil, has been cast out of heaven, and she is trying to find the way back to heaven. She has to find the gift that God will like the best…..

I felt the very close relationship between Van Gogh and Schumann, and are moved by their spirit. Both had a strong support by their loved ones, Theo Van Gogh for Vincent and Clara Schumann for Robert. Theo did everything for Vincent and so as Clara. Clara promoted Robert’s music throughout her career. Both Vincent and Robert were so creative and real artists, but they had deep madness to cope with. I imagine when they felt the inner inspiration they would work restlessly. They just needed to catch what they heard and saw in their mind. I am touched by their beautiful mind.

It was a great week for me to meet Robert and Vincent going with my own projects, performing Robert Schumann’s Piano Quartet with my great friends for LA Phil’s Chamber Music concert, performing Bruch and Mozart with my great friends for LA Phil’s Committee concert, and rehearsing Mozart, Lutoslawski, Rachmaninoff and Milhaud with my dear piano partner for 2 piano concert which will be in July. In the previous week I was in South America to play a concert and to teach masterclass as a part of the celebration of the 110th relationship between Colombia and Japan. I had a wonderful time there! My music life is still going!