Tues | 11 August 2020 | 7:30 BST

FILLU

presented by Green Opera

Artists presenting these concerts have adhered to strict and rigorous social distancing guidelines and safety measures.

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PROGRAMME

Fillu is a dramatised Liederabend based around the lives of Eugenie Schumann and Marie Fillunger – both of whom led extraordinary lives in Germany and England in the late 19th-century and whose history has been sadly overlooked. The piece consists of a selection of mid-late 19th-century Lieder interspersed with letters exchanged between the two lovers.

R SchumannWidmung
J BrahmsWach auf, mein Herzensschöne
F SchubertDer Neugierige
R SchumannSchöne Fremde
J BrahmsRuhe, Süßliebchen
H WolfHeb’ auf dein blondes Haupt
R SchumannKommen und Scheiden
C SchumannIch stand in dunklen Träumen
C SchumannDie stille Lotosblume
J BrahmsIntermezzo in E major, Op 116 No 6
R SchumannMeine Rose
F SchubertLiebesbotschaft
R SchumannIch denke dein
J BrahmsDie Boten der Liebe

It was through her collaborations with Brahms that Marie Fillunger was first introduced to Clara Schumann and her daughters, Eugenie and Marie. After hearing a later performance of Zigeunerlieder, Clara wrote to Brahms: ‘No one else sings them here nearly as well [as] she does’. Clara regarded Fillunger as something of a protégée, employing her as a secretary and to assist with lessons in the family home.

It was during this time that Fillunger, or ‘Fillu’, as she was affectionately known to the family, formed a close friendship with Eugenie Schumann and the two women subsequently became lovers. When the family left Berlin and moved to Frankfurt in 1878, Fillu went to live with them, despite the consternation of Marie Schumann, who disapproved of her sister Eugenie’s intimate relationship with the singer.

Although Brahms consistently supported the union, Clara struggled, and as tensions between Fillu and Marie continued to grow, she too eventually turned against her protégée. Eventually, in January 1889, when Clara refused to support her after a violent dispute with Marie, Fillu left for England. After Fillu’s departure, Eugenie fell into a deep depression – unable to eat or sleep. Clara, whose own marriage to Robert Schumann had been vehemently resisted by her father, eventually recognised the importance of this relationship to her daughter’s happiness and wrote to Fillu, resolving their conflict.

Eugenie moved to England in 1892 to be with Fillu. The couple initially lived in Kensington and later in Manchester, when Fillu joined the teaching staff of the Royal Manchester College of Music from 1904-1913. At the end of the First World War, Eugenie moved to Switzerland to be with her ailing older sister Marie.

Fillu and Eugenie were reunited in 1919 in Matten bear Interlaken in Switzerland, where they lived together until Fillu’s death in 1930.

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