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Schumann's Piano Cycles and the Novels of Jean Paul

Schumann's Piano Cycles and the Novels of Jean Paul

Erika Reiman
Volume: 19
Copyright Date: 2004
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    Schumann's Piano Cycles and the Novels of Jean Paul
    Book Description:

    Robert Schumann frequently expressed his deep admiration for the novels of Jean Paul Friedrich Richter, the late-eighteenth-century German novelist, essayist, and satirist. Schumann imitated Jean Paul's prose style in his own fiction and music criticism, and said once that he learned "more counterpoint from Jean Paul than from my music teacher." Drawing on the recent, groundbreaking work in musico-literary analysis of scholars such as Anthony Newcomb, John Daverio, and Lawrence Kramer, Erika Reiman embarks on a comparative study of Jean Paul's five major novels and Schumann's piano cycles of the 1830s, many of which are staples in the repertoire of concert pianists today. The present study begins with a thorough review of Jean Paul's literary style, emphasizing the digressions, intertextuality, self-reflexivity, and otherworldliness that distinguish it. The similarly digressive style that Schumann developed is then examined in his earliest works, including the enduring and highly original Carnaval (1835), and in cycles of the later 1830s, notably Davidsbündlertänze and Faschingsschwank aus Wien. Finally, an analysis of three one-movement works from 1838-39 reveals links with Jean Paul's exploration of the idyll, an ancient genre that had experienced an eighteenth-century revival. Throughout, the author attempts to keep in mind the actual sound and performed experience of the works, and suggests ways in which an awareness of Jean Paul's style might change the performance and hearing of the cycles. Erika Reiman, received her Ph.D. in Musicology from the University of Toronto (1999) and has taught at Brock University, Wilfrid Laurier University, the University of Guelph, and the University of Toronto; she is also active as a pianist and chamber musician.

    eISBN: 978-1-58046-624-0
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. List of Musical Examples
    (pp. vii-x)
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xiii)
    Erika Reiman
  6. [Illustrations]
    (pp. xiv-xvi)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    In 1844, Carl Kossmaly wrote of Schumann’s piano works that he found many of them “too pithy, dense, and laden with meaning . . . as if one were lost in a thick, overgrown forest, the path barred from moment to moment by mighty treetrunks or knotty roots, powerful vines and sharp thorns, and could escape only with difficulty” and that they shared with other bizarre expressions of Romanticism “a tendency toward everything arbitrary, eccentric, and formless.”¹ Since Kossmaly, we have seen varying degrees of sympathy toward Schumann’s piano music in the literature, beginning with J. A. Fuller-Maitland’s short overview...

  8. 1 “Seldom Satisfied, but Always Delighted”: Jean Paul and His Novels
    (pp. 9-33)

    Schumann’s letters and diaries give evidence that he was concerned with Jean Paul (1763–1825) throughout his life, but his original encounters with Jean Paul’s works took place in the mid- to late 1820s, and his personal writings from this period reflect the wallop he felt from his collision with the five great novels, in particular. He had certainly read all of them by 1828, the year he made a pilgrimage to the Franconian towns of Hof and Bayreuth, southwest of his hometown, Zwickau. In Bayreuth, Schumann visited Jean Paul’s last home and gravesite, and noted in his diary: “Jean...

  9. 2 Digressive Dances: Schumann’s Early Cycles
    (pp. 34-75)

    Schumann’s own Flegeljahre, his late teenage years—around the years 1827 to 1829—reflect his absorption of Jean Paul’s prose style much more obviously in his writings than in his music. His earliest compositions—a choral setting of Psalm 150, some songs, and several symphonic movements among them—are tentative experiments with recognized genres.¹ His teacher, Johann Gottfried Kuntzsch, was a church organist whose tastes were traditional.² However, the novel attempt, Juniusabende und Julitage, together with several short-story attempts and an autobiographical sketch, reproduces Jean Paul’s descriptive, digressive, at times overwrought manner surprisingly well.³ There is no corresponding tendency in...

  10. 3 Carnaval: Redefining Convention, Transcending Boundaries
    (pp. 76-123)

    Although the Intermezzi had been described by Schumann as “longer Papillons,” this epithet might have been even more suitable for his next cycle. Carnaval takes its point of departure from the basic structural premise of opp. 2 and 4, but goes far beyond those works in scale, boldness, and depth of imagination. Completed in 1835¹ and published as op. 9 by Breitkopf und Härtel in 1837, Carnaval was popularized by Liszt from 1840 onward² and became a stock-in-trade of the concert pianist in the twentieth century. The cycle was Schumann’s longest, most thorough treatment of the “waltz-series” topos to date,...

  11. 4 Higher and Lower Forms
    (pp. 124-155)

    Carnaval, as digressive and unconventional as it was, came closest to being Schumann’s magnum opus at the time of its completion. It built on the idea of the waltz series, which had already served as the foundation for Papillons, op. 2, and the Intermezzi, op. 4. Carnaval’s scale, by comparison with those works, is immense, and other later cycles would also tend to be less fragmentary, their movements more self-contained.

    Perhaps most remarkable, for this study, is the way in which both the “Préambule” and the “Marche des Davidsbündler” play with the signals conventional to sonata form. In Carnaval, the...

  12. 5 Schumann’s and Jean Paul’s Idyllic Vision
    (pp. 156-190)

    Schumann’s sojourn in Vienna, beginning in the fall of 1838, and the months that followed his return to Leipzig in the spring of 1839 were dismal times for the composer.¹ In September 1837, he had proposed marriage to Clara Wieck, but her father had brutally rejected the proposal and forbade contact between the two. Wieck rushed Clara off on yet another extended concert tour, which included a long and very successful stay in Vienna. In an attempt to salvage his engagement despite Wieck’s objections, Schumann planned to move himself and his music journal, the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, to Vienna...

  13. Epilogue/Zum Schluß
    (pp. 191-192)

    Jean Paul’s digressive style, his novel attitudes to form and genre, and his fluid notions of the artwork, beyond uniqueness and self-containment, represent important concepts for much nineteenth- and twentieth-century art. In this study, I hope to have demonstrated the extent to which these concepts permeate the piano music of Schumann, whose personal connections to Jean Paul’s work are easily shown. Yet Jean Paul could prove to be an important model for further musical investigations. There is a strong continuity of style, particularly on a small-scale level, between Schumann’s piano music and his other works. His songs, chamber music, symphonies,...

  14. Appendix List of Movements/Movement Titles
    (pp. 193-196)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 197-216)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 217-224)
  17. Index
    (pp. 225-229)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 230-232)