While in Düsseldorf, Schumann was plagued with mental seizures that could happen in the middle of a performance or of a rehearsal. There are reports that say he would suddenly stand, frozen in front of the choir or orchestra and remain immobile for a few minutes. After this happened a number of times, Clara accompanied him and was ready to take over the baton if such a seizure took place.
Peter Siegwart planned a performance of the Schumann Mass, which would illustrate this psychological state of Schumann at the time of composition. He wanted computer music, a tape, that would be interpolated into breaks in the performance. For this computer music he had first asked Gerald Bennett, who was unable to do it and suggested me. So it was that we met, together with a ‘speaker’, Danièla Sandoz, and planned the whole performance. The breaks would also include readings of texts by Schumann and others from the same time. This meant that all three of us searched the available literature for suitable texts. Finally it was decided that we should let Schumann alone speak, with exception of one text from Marie Schumann, the daughter who witnessed the events leading to Schumann’s suicide attempt.
The mass was performed with breaks in all movements in which my tape sounds or fragments for STBB soloists, two performances, one in Zurich (St Peter) and one in Lucerne in January 1996. Alec Loretto was present at the latter and greatly impressed, although as he said later, the last interpolations could have been more intense, more disturbing (he was moved to say this as a result of his experience in looking after his wife, Ruth, who had suffered from Parkinson’s and died a year or so before in a rather similar mental state).