The Canton of Ticino (German Tessin) is the only Swiss canton to have Italian as its official
language. It is bounded on three sides by Italy and boasts spectacular mountain scenery, with waterfalls, rivers and lakes. The capital of the canton is now Bellinzona, but was earlier shared with Locarno and Lugano. A feature of the landscape lies in the great lakes that are within its territory, including part of Lago Maggiore, into which the Ticino and Maggia flow.
Robert Schumann was born in 1810 in Saxony, studied in Leipzig, lived in Dresden and, in 1850 moved to Düsseldorf as director of music to the city. He died in 1856, after a severe mental breakdown, from which he never recovered. In 1840, in spite of the objections of her father, he had married the young pianist Clara Wieck, daughter of his former teacher. It was particularly after his marriage that he turned his attention to larger scale compositions, of which his Piano Concerto is an example, inspired by his wife. The other work heard here, the Intermezzi, Op. 4, dates from an earlier period, devoted in particular to the composition of shorter piano pieces, when a career as a pianist still seemed possible for him.
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