6. Florestan & Eusebius

Schumann was bi-polar (manic depressive) and he gave names to the two opposite aspects of his personality – the outgoing extrovert he called Florestan; the withdrawn introvert, Eusebius. Of the two symphonies below the first is almost entirely in the realm of Florestan, but the second starts darkly, in the poetic world of Eusebius, and only gradually emerges into an euphoric, Florestinian (if there’s such a word) finale

In 1840, despite strenuous opposition from her father, Robert Schumann married the virtuoso pianist Clara Wieck. His joy in this event was reflected in his music. Firstly, there was an outpouring of song – almost 140 were written within the year – and then, in 1841, at the age of thirty-one, Schumann/Florestan wrote his First Symphony, subtitled ‘The Spring’:

Robert Schumann:
Symphony No. 1

The Spring

00:00 Andante maestoso – Allegro molto vivace
12:39 Larghetto
19:31 Scherzo. Molto vivace
25:11 Allegro animato e grazioso


Robert’s mental health was always a matter for some concern (see above). He’s had an episode in 1833 during which he’d contemplated suicide; and, again, in 1845 following a strenuous concert tour of Russia with Clara and a consequent unremitting work schedule when they returned home, his health collapsed, and depression reduced him for a while to a state of catatonia.

In contrast to the first, his (and Eusebius’) Second Symphony is part of, and a testimony to, the process of recovery from this nervous breakdown:

Robert Schumann:
Symphony No. 2 in C

Sostenuto assai – Allegro ma non troppo 00:00
Scherzo. Allegro vivace 12:13
Adagio espressivo 19:18
Allegro molto vivace 28:40


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