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Composer Friends and Colleagues

A Minute with Miles

I find it fascinating that many of the greatest composers of the 19th century—composers such as Berlioz, Schumann, Chopin, Mendelssohn, Wagner, Brahms, Dvorák, and Tchaikovsky—knew one another, and in many cases had very friendly personal and musical relationships. Schumann, for example, wrote his piano quintet for his wife, Clara, a great piano virtuoso…and Clara played the first public performance of the piece. 

But the very first performance of the piece was at a party for friends, and the pianist for that performance was Felix Mendelssohn. At another private party, later, Clara played the piece, and here’s what one of the guests wrote to the composer afterward: “Your Quintet, my very dear Schumann, pleased me greatly, and I asked your dear wife to play it twice… I see what path you want to follow, and can assure you that it’s also mine – there is the only chance for salvation: beauty.” And that guest’s name was Richard Wagner.

A Minute with Miles is a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.

Miles Hoffman is the founder and violist of the American Chamber Players, with whom he regularly tours the United States, and the Virginia I. Norman Distinguished Visiting Professor of Chamber Music at the Schwob School of Music, in Columbus, Georgia. He has appeared as viola soloist with orchestras across the country, and his solo performances on YouTube have received well over 700,000 views.