Henselt, Adolf (1814-1889)

Adolf Henselt
Adolf Henselt, Steelengraving, StadtMuseum Bonn

Adolf Henselt (1814-1889)

Robert Schumann was enthusiastic about the musical work of the composer and piano virtuoso Adolf Henselt and, for instance, called him a “formidable piano hero” in a review in Neue Zeitschrift für Musik [New Journal of Music] in 1836. After an exchange of letters, intense encounters and joint activities followed on the occasion of a concert stay by Henselt at the Leipzig Gewandhaus concert hall in December 1837. Schumann noted in his diary “he seems to me like a brother” and after spending Christmas Eve together in the course of which both agreed on the “familiar you” [in contrast to the German “formal you”], Schumann recalled “Henselt like a god at the piano”. The following year, Schumann dedicated to Henselt his Noveletten [Novelettes’], Op. 21, and, in return, Henselt showed his appreciation of Schumann by dedicating his Scherzo, Op. 9, to him. The friendly relationship and mutual musical recognition was further demonstrated at the premiere of Henselt’s Piano Concerto with soloist Clara Schumann in 1839. In the spring of 1844, when Clara and Robert Schumann set out on their journey to Russia, Henselt, who had been appointed as the Tsarina’s pianist at the Imperial Court in 1838 already, greatly supported them in their preparations, and also was their host in Saint Petersburg and occasional companion. He also organised, together with Clara Schumann, a joint presentation of a piece by Robert Schumann at the Salon of the Prince of Oldenburg in Saint Petersburg. Over the following years, however, this friendly relationship cooled off markedly.
(Sigrid Lange, translated by Thomas Henninger)

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