Schumann

Schumann

by Eric Frederick Jensen
     
 

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Robert Schumann is one of the most intriguing-and enigmatic-composers of the nineteenth century. Extraordinarily gifted in both music and literature, many of his compositions were inspired by poetry and novels. For much of his life he was better known as a music critic than as a composer. But whether writing as critic or composer, what he produced was created by

Overview

Robert Schumann is one of the most intriguing-and enigmatic-composers of the nineteenth century. Extraordinarily gifted in both music and literature, many of his compositions were inspired by poetry and novels. For much of his life he was better known as a music critic than as a composer. But whether writing as critic or composer, what he produced was created by him as a reflection of his often turbulent life. Best known was the tempestuous courtship of his future wife, the pianist Clara Wieck. Though marriage and family life seemed to provide a sense of constancy, he increasingly experienced periods of depression and instability. Mounting criticism of his performance as music director at Dusseldorf led to his attempted suicide in 1854. Schumann was voluntarily committed to an insane asylum near Bonn where, despite indications of improvement and dissatisfaction with his treatment, he spent the final two years of his life.

Drawing on original research and newly published letters and journals from the time, author Eric Frederick Jensen presents a balanced portrait of the composer with both scholarly authority and engaging clarity. Biographical chapters alternate with discussion of Schumann's piano, chamber, choral, symphonic, and operatic works, demonstrating how the circumstances of his life helped shape the music he wrote. Chronicling the romance of Robert and Clara, Jensen offers a nuanced look at the evolution of their relationship, one that changed dramatically after marriage. He also follows Schumann's creative musical criticism, which championed the burgeoning careers of Chopin, Liszt, and Brahms and challenged the musical tastes of Europe.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The reader is left not only educated musically, but saddened, mesmerized, horrified, and disgusted by the treatment Schumann received.... It's a tale of latent feminism, music history, and mental illness all wrapped into one. There's plenty of technical description for the musician reader, complete with musical examples that can be played or sung. There's plenty more for someone who can't read music but likes a rich life story of a complex human being who happened to be a musician."—Boston Globe

"The presentation is excellent, aimed at the intelligent music-lover, but equally it is important in many ways to the established specialist in 19th century Romanticism. Anyone looking for their first book on Schumann could not do better than obtain this title, which will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives." —Musical Opinion

"A valuable addition to Schumann research at the turn of the millennium. Best of all, it is a readable, thoughtful account, especially concerning the composer's relationships with his wife, Clara; his contemporaries; and the surrounding musical community...Recommended." —Choice

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199737352
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
02/13/2012
Series:
Master Musicians Series
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
930,620
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Eric Frederick Jensen taught at Denison University and the University of Illinois. He has published widely on 19th- and early 20th-century music, including in The Journal of Musicology, The Musical Quarterly, The Musical Times, and Music & Letters. His book, Walls of Circumstance, examined the work of eleven little known 19th-century composers.

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