This is of two chance meetings, separated by years, both involving
the baritone Thomas Hampson. The knob of the matter is the parenthesis
"(Schumann-approved)" in the second item of yesterday's Music News column,
At a reception tonight for the completion of new chapters of Michael
Tilson Thomas' superb "Keeping Score" program, coming to public television
and radio soon, Hampson sat down next to me - by chance - and said: "Nice
job, but I didn't say Schumann used or approved `Dichterliebe'." Ignoring
the compliment, I reached into the depths of my intellect, and responded:
"Yes, you did." Hampson then played a powerful trump card: "No, I didn't."
MTT started his presentation, so we had to leave it at that, Hampson
having the last word.
Well, not quite, see below, but first let me say what prompted that
parenthesis: Hampson *was* quite clear about Schumann using the Heine
title, but I heard - perhaps mistakenly - the singer say that near the
end of his life, Schumann wrote (or checked) an inventory of his works,
and he wrote (or let go) "Dichterliebe" as the title.
And now, about a second chance encounter, from an e-mail in response to
the report on Hampson's concert.
From: Jean-Ronald LaFond
Re: One way to handle an allergy attack before a concert, at
least if you're Hampson enough
Thank you for this report. It interests me for two reasons:
1. I developed allergies a year ago after I moved to teach in
Delaware. I finally recognized this year that I actually do have
allergies to pollen after I had a repeat episode of losing my
voice during a rehearsal this year, just as I did at the onset
of spring last year. I believe I have found a remedy that works
for me. I hope anyway. And I feel for Mr. Hampson who has to
deal with this given his very busy and exposed schedule.
2. I am tickled by the parenthetical statement in the article:
<<This is a matter of passion for Hampson, to differentiate
between Schumann's original 1840 "20 Lieder und Gesange aus
dem Lyrischen Intermezzo," and the 1844 shortened version that
goes under the (Schumann-approved) name of "Dichterliebe.">>
Some 13 years ago, after finishing my dissertation on Dictherliebe
and its form, and published a paper in Australian Voice, Thomas
Hampson came to Ann Arbor, as many recitalists do, to try out
his lecture recital on Dichterliebe or Zwanzig Gedichte aus dem
Dean Paul Boylan, one of the legendary School Administrators
managed to make it a rule that artists who came to perform at
the U were required to have dinner with the graduate students
in their discipline. So 12 doctoral students were invited to
the house of a U donor who hosted the post-recital dinner for
Mr. Hampson. I was seated at his table, along with George Shirley
and Leslie Guinn and one other baritone colleague, and a woman
that Mr. Hampson introduced as his personal musicologist.
Naturally we started discussing the recital and particular
Dictherliebe. Apparently, from information that the musicologist
had provided, Hampson made the erroneous statement that the 20
song version was the only one sanctioned by Schumann and that
Peters removed the other 4 songs and named the shortened cycle
Naturally, I was not going to openly contradict the most
celebrated Lieder singer in the US, so I remained quiet. George
Shirley who was in my dissertation committee and heard me argue
the opposite, played provocateur, revealed that Dictherliebe was
the subject of my dissertation, and asked me if I agreed with
Mr. Hampson's contention. Of course, I had to give the information
from my research that indeed Schumann was at least consulted on
the changes, and most likely made the cuts himself, given that
the other four songs only added harmonic expansion and that their
removal made the harmonic progression of the cycle more efficient.
Furthermore, Schumann wrote to Peters thanking him for the new
So when I read the article and notice in parenthesis
"(Schumann-approved) name Dictherliebe," I had to smile in
approval, thinking that I might have had a hand in that parenthesis.
Hope it does not sound to self-aggrandising. It was so long ago,
and it kinda brought a smile. JRL
Hmmmm. Stand by for the next exciting chapter in this saga. Speaking
of allergies, Hampson did say today that he is feeling much better and
that "I felt soooo awful Monday night." There is no dispute over the
*fact* that the audience got full value from him, regardless.
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