Schumann on Music: A Selection from the Writings

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Courier Corporation, Nov 13, 2012 - Music - 224 pages
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Schumann's genius as a composer is well known; perhaps less well known is the fact that he was also a gifted music critic who wrote hundreds of perceptive essays, articles, and reviews for the Neue Zeitschrift fur Müsik, the influential music journal he founded in 1834.
The present work, translated and edited by noted critic Henry Pleasants, contains 61 of the most important critical pieces Schumann wrote for Neue Zeitschrift between 1834 and 1844. The articles are arranged in chronological order, with ample annotation, demonstrating not only Schumann's development as a writer and critic but also the evolution of music in Europe during a decisive decade.
In addition to such major set pieces as "Florestan's Shrovetide Oration," the essays on Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique and Schubert's Symphony in C Major, and the imaginative and literate "The Editor's Ball," this volume offers discerning observations on Mendelssohn, Chopin, Beethoven, Liszt, Cherubini, and other giants. Also included are critical considerations of an ensemble of minor masters: Sphor, Hiller, Moscheles, Hummel, and Gade, among others. The result is a rich and representative picture of musical life in the mid-19th century.
Schumann's criticism has long been famous for its perceptiveness and literary style. Those qualities are in ample evidence in this treasury of his finest critical writings, now available to every music lover in this inexpensive, high-quality edition.


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About the author (2012)

Born in Zwickau, Germany, Robert Schumann hoped early in his career to become a piano virtuoso. That dream was shattered in 1832, however, when he sustained permanent injury to his right hand while using a finger-strengthening device that he had invented. Thereafter, he devoted his energies to composition. His first compositions, the Toccata, Paganini studies, and Intermezzi, were published in 1833. A year later, he founded and edited Neue Leipzige Zeitschrift fur Musik, a music magazine that became influential in its support of romanticism. Schumann's attachment to Clara Wieck (the future Clara Schumann), the daughter of his piano teacher, was frowned upon by her disapproving father, who considered Schumann unsuitable. Despite this opposition, the two were married in 1849. The Schumanns made several concert tours together, with Clara performing the premieres of many of Robert's works. Schumann is especially noted for his cycles of piano music, particularly Papillons (1829-31), Carnaval (1834-35), and Phantasiestucke (1837). His works are marked by imaginative power, with beautiful melodies and harmonies, and they embody the romantic spirit that prevailed at the time. During the latter part of his life, Schumann worked as an orchestral conductor in Dresden and Dusseldorf. In 1854 his health began to decline and he was plagued by symptoms of mental illness that had recurred throughout his life. That same year, fearing for his sanity, he threw himself into the Rhine river. He was rescued by fishermen and taken to an asylum, where he died two years later.

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