This beginner's piano book spotlights the music of one of the Romantic movement's most influential composers, Robert Schumann. Its easy-to-play renditions of Schumann's beloved works progressively increase in difficulty and are accessible to novices of all ages.
Contents include selections from Forest Scenes, Scenes from Childhood, Album for the Young, and Carnaval, a collection of short pieces representing revelers at a masked ball. Selections include "Traumerei," "Happy Farmer," "Papillons," and other melodies for solo piano.
About the Author
One of the Romantic movement's most influential composers, Robert Schumann (1810-56) was also a famous music critic. A self-inflicted hand injury curtailed his career as a concert pianist; his wife, Clara, often performed at the debuts of his works.
Former Dover editor David Dutkanicz holds degrees from the Manhattan School of Music, New York University, and Columbia University. He is the editor of several books in this series.
Read an Excerpt
A First Book of Schumann
32 Arrangements for the Beginning Pianist
By DAVID DUTKANICZ
Dover Publications, Inc.Copyright © 2010 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
From a Foreign Land
This is the first of 13 childhood reminisces composed by Schumann. They were called Scenes from Childhood ("Kinderszenen"). He had eight children of his own, and wrote many pieces for them and about them.
Andante means "at a walking pace." Notice how the melody "walks" from a high G down to a middle G. Pay attention to the sharps that turn the directions of this stroll.
Child Falling Asleep
With so many children, Clara and Robert Schumann had much practice putting them to bed. Schumann creates a lulling effect with a repeated passage in the right hand known as an ostinato. This piece ends on a peaceful, eye-shutting major chord.
The title means "dream" and it is the best-known work from this collection. Play it in a sweet and "dreamy" manner, without rushing. Keep the melody light, and swell the dynamics.
The Poet Speaks
This is the finale of Scenes from Childhood. Schumann as a grown-up poet, is saying goodbye to his childhood. Before playing, look over the "grownup" accidentals in the music.
The forest has always been a magical place where many fairy tales have been set. Schumann was inspired by the woods, and wrote a collection of pieces called Forest Scenes. Picture a storybook background when playing the swaying melody.
In the past, the hunt was announced with a bugle call. This would gather the hunters at the edge of the forest and alert others for safety. Play the melody brightly, just like a bugle or trumpet.
Schumann wrote a short sonata for three of his daughters. He would give them piano lessons and compose pieces tailored to each. This one was dedicated to Julie.
Kreisleriana No. 8
This sprightly piece is based on a fictional musician named Johannes Kreisler. He was a character created by novelist E.T.A. Hoffman—the author of the Nutcracker story. Schumann himself was an aspiring writer before he became a composer.
This may be the first time you've seen a 7/4 time signature, but don't be nervous. It's simply a melody that is three beats plus four. Follow the dashed lines when counting and you'll be able to subdivide the measures easily.
The composer Chopin was a friend of Schumann's, and this piece was written in his style to honor him. Interpret the section marked "freely" in any speed you like. Just return back to the original at "a tempo."
Schumann wrote this charming work for his future wife, who just happened to be his piano teacher's daughter. Follow the angled lines to keep track of the pulse as it moves from right hand to left. Hint: first play the right hand without ties to feel the proper rhythm.
The title of this lively piece means "German Waltz." Dances in this style were played at parties and masquerades where everyone joined in. Keep the tempo lively and toe-tapping.
Schumann created a half-imaginary musical society known as the "League of David." Most of the works in Carnaval are portraits of its members. This piece was dedicated to them, as they marched off to battle their own half-imaginary Goliaths.
Der Arme Peter
The title of this piece means "Poor Peter" and is the setting of a Heinrich Heine poem. It tells the sad story of a boy walking through a village, disappointed over his lost love. Keep the mood pastoral and melancholic.
This is a song Schumann dedicated to his wife from a collection called Myrthen—evergreens whose branches flowered and were used as wedding wreaths. Jemand means "someone special." Play these special images warmly.
This charming work is the first of 43 melodic lessons Schumann wrote for his daughters: Marie, Elise, and Julie. At first, even these weren't easy for them. Remember to have patience, and you'll see how quickly you improve.
When playing, take advantage of rests as a chance to look ahead and reposition your hands—but don't forget to keep counting! The left hand might feel bumpy, but keep your wrists moving smoothly and the right hand lyrical.
Dynamics are always key to musical interpretation. This work recreates the sound of a passing horseman by getting louder during the approach and softer for the departure. The heavy and light sections emphasize this image.
The Poor Orphan
This piece is written in a minor key, which, unlike major keys, usually sounds sad. Be expressive, and listen to the mood that Schumann is creating. The title should help.
Chorales are pieces written for four voices. From the top down they are: Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass. When two stems are on one note, it means both voices are singing the same note. This is known as unison.
Schumann was from a period in music known as the Romantic Era. It was more emotional than the previous, called Classical, which focused on neatness and restraint. Be expressive, and use the dynamics to help.
Etudes are musical pieces focusing on a particular exercise. Here, both hands are being stretched and learning to work together. Always be even with your tempo and keep your eyes looking forward.
Schumann would often escape to the country to relax, and this work describes one of his many joyful trips. You may have heard the melody before: it was played in The Wizard of Oz.
Schumann recreates a rustic atmosphere by using wide intervals in the left hand. These octaves and fifths are known as "open harmonies" and mimic early country instruments. When playing, paint the scene using these old sounds.
Triplets are three even notes in one beat, marked with a slanted 3. Don't be tempted to rush. Rather, think of them as fractions with each being 1/3 of a quarter note—just like each eighth note is ½ of a quarter note.
This exciting melody is built on arpeggios. Warm-up with A minor and E major arpeggios and you'll find the right hand easier to play. Use the left hand to accent the "gallop."
Schumann composed 12 very complex and colorful variations around this simple theme. They were so broad and big sounding that they were named "symphonic." Use the chromatic scale in measure 2 to add color to the melody.
from Symphony No. 4
Schumann wrote four symphonies in all. This scherzo is from the third movement of Symphony No. 4. Notice how the melody is echoed—bounce the music back and forth between the hands.
A piano quintet is an ensemble consisting of a piano, 2 violins, viola, and cello. This piece was premiered by Clara Schumann at the piano and a circle of friends on strings. Don't rush, and project a majestic sound.
Schumann was a very promising young pianist. Unfortunately, he permanently injured his right hand and couldn't perform. Although he wrote many short piano pieces, he wrote only one concerto.
Schumann lived during the development of "Program Music"—a style of composing meant to represent objects and people. Pappillon means "butterfly," and the work is filled with images representing flight. There are even two sections for one hand only.
Excerpted from A First Book of Schumann by DAVID DUTKANICZ. Copyright © 2010 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
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Table of Contents
From a Foreign Land,
Child Falling Asleep,
The Poet Speaks,
Kreisleriana No. 8,
Der Arme Peter,
Jemand - from Myrthen,
The Poor Orphan,
Symphonic Etudes - (theme),
Scherzo - from Symphony No. 4,
Piano Quintet - (opening),
Piano Concerto - (opening),