Robert Schumann: Herald of a "New Poetic Age"

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Oxford University Press, Apr 10, 1997 - Music - 624 pages
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Forced by a hand injury to abandon a career as a pianist, Robert Schumann went on to become one of the world's great composers. Among many works, his Spring Symphony (1841), Piano Concerto in A Minor (1841/1845), and the Third, or Rhenish, Symphony (1850) exemplify his infusion of classical forms with intense, personal emotion. His musical influence continues today and has inspired many other famous composers in the century since his death. Indeed Brahms, in a letter of January 1873, wrote: "The remembrance of Schumann is sacred to me. I will always take this noble pure artist as my model." Now, in Robert Schumann: Herald of a "New Poetic Age," John Daverio presents the first comprehensive study of the composer's life and works to appear in nearly a century. Long regarded as a quintessentially romantic figure, Schumann also has been portrayed as a profoundly tragic one: a composer who began his career as a genius and ended it as a mere talent. Daverio takes issue with this Schumann myth, arguing instead that the composer's entire creative life was guided by the desire to imbue music with the intellectual substance of literature. A close analysis of the interdependence among Schumann's activities as reader, diarist, critic, and musician reveals the depth of his literary sensibility. Drawing on documents only recently brought to light, the author also provides a fresh outlook on the relationship between Schumann's mental illness--which brought on an extended sanitarium stay and eventual death in 1856--and his musical creativity. Schumann's character as man and artist thus emerges in all its complexity. The book concludes with an analysis of the late works and a postlude on Schumann's influence on successors from Brahms to Berg. This well-researched study of Schumann interprets the composer's creative legacy in the context of his life and times, combining nineteenth-century cultural and intellectual history with a fascinating analysis of the works themselves.

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User Review  - Jamie638 - LibraryThing

This is simply the best Schumann biography in English. Every aspect of Schumann's life is explored, including his relationships with his wife Clara and his musical colleagues, and especially his ... Read full review

Robert Schumann: herald of a "new poetic age"

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Biographies of 19th-century composer Robert Schumann abound, but room should be made on library shelves for one more. Daverio (chair, musicology, Boston Univ. Sch. for the Arts) has written a ... Read full review


1 The Formation of a MusicoLiterary Sensibility
2 Music as Literature
3 Music Criticism in a New Key
4 Musical Love Letters in the Higher and Smaller Forms
5 Fierce Battles and Blissful Songs
11 Unbounded Creativity
12 The Final Phase
A Place to Recall Schumann and His Music
Translation of Jean Paul Flegeljahre Chapter 63 TitaniumBlack Tourmaline MaskedBall
General Index
Index of Schumanns Works

9 Schumanns New Way
10 The Musical Dramatist

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Page 4 - literary' ideas on femininity? Is it universal wisdom? Romantic psychology? We shall never know, for the good reason that writing is the destruction of every voice, of every point of origin. Writing is that neutral, composite, oblique space where our subject slips away, the negative where all identity is lost, starting with the very identity of the body writing.
Page 36 - Extra-leaf," some wild digression upon any subject but the one in hand ; the language groans with indescribable metaphors and allusions to all things human and divine; flowing onward; not like a river, but like an inundation; circling in complex eddies, chafing and gurgling, now this way, now that, till the proper current sinks out of view amid the boundless uproar.
Page 48 - Apart from Schubert's, no music exists that is so psychologically unusual in the course and connection of its ideas, and in the ostensible logic of its discontinuities. . . . What for others was a diary in which to set down momentary feelings was for Schubert a sheet of music paper to which he entrusted his every mood, so that his thoroughly musical soul wrote notes when others wrote...

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About the author (1997)

John Daverio is Associate Professor and Chairman of the Musicology Department at the Boston University School for the Arts. He is the author of Nineteenth-Century Music and the German Romantic Ideology, and has published on the music of Schumann, Brahms, and Wagner in a number of professional journals.

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