In 1849 Schumann published six Impromptus for piano four-hands with the title “Bilder aus Osten”. As can be seen from the preface of the first edition, Schumann was inspired by the “Maqama” - a genre of Arab rhymed prose - by the medieval poet Hariri in the translation by Friedrich Rückert. Schumann could not banish the protagonist in the Maqama, Abu Said, whom he likened to the German character Till Eulenspiegel from his thoughts whilst he was writing the works. This explains the “foreign character” of the pieces. Even 150 years later, the “Pictures from the East” with their nuanced use of a wide range of sound possibilities in the interplay of the four hands, have lost none of their charm.
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