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July 12: Debut Solo Album Release

15 New Piano Miniatures Interwoven with Robert Schumann’s Davidsbündlertanze Op. 6

Pianist David Kaplan will release his debut solo album, New Dances of the League of David, on July 12, 2024 on New Focus Recordings. New Dances of the League of David features fifteen new piano miniatures commissioned by Kaplan between 2013 and 2015 from some of today’s leading American composers, interwoven with Robert Schumann’s Davidsbündlertanze, Op. 6. The commissioned composers are Augusta Read Thomas, Martin Bresnick, Michael Stephen Brown, Marcos Balter, Gabriel Kahane, Timo Andres, Andrew Norman, Han Lash, Michael Gandolfi, Ted Hearne, Samuel Carl Adams, Mark Carlson, Ryan Francis, Caroline Shaw, and Caleb Burhans.

Schumann’s Davidsbündlertanze is a collection of 18 short works from the 1830s, which the composer described as dances of the “League of David,” a musical society he created consisting of both real and imagined members – including the fictional characters Florestan and Eusebius, representing the two extremes of his own personality. The collection was dedicated to Robert Schumann’s wife, the composer and pianist Clara Wieck Schumann, and a mazurka she composed serves as its point of departure. Kaplan writes in the album’s liner notes, “Literary meanings, multiple personalities, and the border between reality and imagination aside, the Davidsbündlertänze is in purely musical terms a masterwork of startling originality; its genre simply has no precedent. . . The Davidsbündlertänze innovate in the contradiction between their apparent disjointedness and their stealthy, mysterious unity: pieces in different keys, with different affects, characters, tempi, lengths, and forms play on the same essential motives, and coexist with unlikely apposition. In a way, the young Schumann had invented the mixtape.”

Each 21st century commissioned composer contributed a work that is their own but remains in dialogue with Schumann. Kaplan requested that they write short pieces meant as interruptions or interludes to the Davidsbündlertänze, with each focusing on a different movement. “Each of the fifteen contemporary composers’ pieces . . . offers a unique statement of style, beauty, and wit; yet they are unified by their engagement with the spirit of Schumann,” Kaplan writes. “The composers all revel in rapid character shifts, multilayered rhythmic textures, and poignant eloquence.”

For David Kaplan, the new album is the culmination of a fascination with Schumann that began while he was still a child – at ten years old, he performed some of Schumann’s music for children at the Bard Festival. Since then, he has continued to explore the mercurial composer’s work in all its configurations – songs, chamber music, concertos, and solo pieces. He also became fascinated with creating concerts that juxtaposed short movements and pieces of larger works in a “tasting menu” approach, and became a close collaborator with living composers, counting them as colleagues and friends.

Kaplan’s premiere of New Dances of the League of David in New York in 2015 was named as one of the Best Classical Music Performances of the Year by The New York Times, with Anthony Tommasini reporting, “the excellent and adventurous young pianist David Kaplan paid tribute to that Schumann work by fashioning a contemporary equivalent with the help of [his] composer colleagues. Mr. Kaplan played New Dances of the League of David, a 60-minute suite that incorporates new miniatures by this 21st-century band of composers into Schumann’s Davidsbündlertänze, a project commissioned by Lyrica Chamber Music and Metropolis Ensemble. . . New Dances is no gimmick. Rather, reaching back to a time when borrowing a master’s music was a compliment . . . the composers honor Schumann by reacting to and even rewriting his music. And it was fascinating to hear Schumann through the ears of these perceptive, stylistically varied contemporary composers.”

Kaplan sums up his approach: “The result, fifteen new American piano works of diverse style and authorship, sometimes graffitiing the walls and sometimes painting inside the lines, is simply a bigger party; Schumann, the host, is always hovering with more champagne and hors d’oeuvres.” 

For more information on each of the commissioned composers and their works, read the album’s liner notes here. 

Release Date: July 12, 2024

New Focus Recordings

Recorded at the Evelyn and Mo Ostin Recording Studio at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, Los Angeles, CA, June 26-30, 2017.

Session co-producers: Benjamin Maas and Timo Andres

Sound engineer: Benjamin Maas

Producers: Benjamin Maas and David Kaplan

Editing, mix, and mastering: Benjamin Maas.

Yamaha DCFX piano preparation: Sean McLaughlin 

℗ & © 2024 David Kaplan 

Liner note author: David Kaplan

Liner note editor: Laura Hartenberger 

Cover Images: Synthesized images of Robert Schumann, using a 3d modeled/ computer rendered portrait of Robert Schumann by Hadi Karimi, and subsequently processed by Marc Wolf in Adobe Photoshop.

Design, layout & typography: Marc Wolf,

Photos by Dario Acosta and Titilayo Ayangade

New Dances of the League of David graphic by Liana Finck, 2014

Read full press release with track list here:

Photos of David Kaplan by Titalayo Ayangade and Dario Acosta available in high resolution - download here


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