Caroline Oltmanns will Perform at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts

HAGERSTOWN, MD - The Washington County Museum of Fine Arts will present Fulbright Scholar and International Steinway Artist, Caroline Oltmanns for the annual Perry/Brandenburg Recital on Sunday, September 28, 2014 at 2:30 p.m.  This concert is sponsored each year by Cinda and Spence Perry in memory of their mothers Mary Gaylor Brandenburg and Inez Hottsford Perry.  The Perry’s noted “we felt that the memory of these two strong, talented and generous women could best be perpetuated by using a portion of their resources to continue their tradition of sharing music with others for years to come.  It is our way of saying thank you to the both of them for the opportunity to hear, to learn and to love music from our earliest years.”  This is a ticketed event, $5.00 for non-members and free for members and children 12 and under.

The concert will present Ghost Variations WoO 24 (1854) by Robert Schumann (1810-1856).  In discussion on this performance Oltmanns notes that in February of 1854 Robert Schumann attempted to commit suicide by jumping into the Rhine River in his hometown of Düsseldorf, Germany, following extreme attacks of mental anguish and schizophrenia, that had become increasingly unbearable over the months leading up to this day.  During the previous week, and on this day, a constant perception of symphonic sounds and melodies raged through the composer’s head, “dictating” him to write the theme of the Ghost Variations.  Simultaneously angelic and ghost-like voices commanded him – in his fragile mental state – to attack his oldest daughter and his wife, both of whom he loved dearly.  In an exasperated state of mind, he decided to avoid tragedy by attempting to end his life.  He left his house in a nightgown and made his way to the river.

This day being Rose Monday, the culmination of the feast of Carnival, a traditional street festival with a rich culture of costumes and dances, no one stopped the odd looking man heading towards the river in his nightgown.  A boatman rescued Schumann immediately once he had jumped into the icy water.  He was brought back to his house in a desperate state.  Soon after his arrival he wrote down Variations 1 through 5 of the Ghost Variations.  Schumann was committed to an institution the following day, where he spent the remaining years of his life.  Due to these harrowing events his wife, Clara Schumann, to whom the work is dedicated, jealously guarded the manuscripts.  A facsimile was made available by its private owner only in the 1990s, which explains perhaps why the Ghost Variations are not part of the standard repertoire, and why they are rarely heard in performance.

Oltmanns holds degrees from the Staatliche Musikhochschule Freiburg and the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.  Described as “flawless, eloquent, and always enlightened by clarity…Oltmanns delivers impeccable musical phrasing and engaging stage presence, attracting audiences both in the US and abroad” noted Daniel Hathaway, Cleveland Classical in a review. Integrity towards the score and insightful creativity enable her to instill fresh relevance to works of the past.  Her creative programming of new works builds bridges to unfamiliar repertoire.  Through her playing she connects with the individual listener in both small and large settings.  This concert season, Oltmanns offered an array of solo recitals with major repertoire works including Beethoven’s Waldstein sonata, Liszt’s Venezia e Napoli, and Chopin’s Scherzo in C-sharp minor.  She is currently Professor of Piano at Youngstown State University.

For more information on the Museum, please phone (301) 739-5727 or visit http://www.wcmfa.org.  Museum hours are Tuesday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and Sunday from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.