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Piano works Robert Schumann
#2852658 05/27/19 09:31 AM
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Hi guys, I am obsessed by the piano music by Robert Schumann at the moment and especially his Davidsbündlertänze and Fantasie. I havent played much of his music, mostly Songs, and solo I have only played The Arabesque and Des Abends. Some major repertoire that I Have played (I study 2nd year bachelor at conservatory) include Chopin 1st Ballade and Barcarolle, Schubert D 845, Beethoven Op 109, Debussy Estampes etc, just to give you an idea of what kind of repertoire I have played. Would it be reasonable to try out any of these two major works by Schumann, or do you have any other suggestions? I know the fantasy would be a huge challenge, especially interpretation wise, but also the second movement seems to have an insane coda, worse than anything I have ever encountered. Plus I will never have played such a big piece before. But how about Davidsbündlertänze?
Thanks in advance

Re: Piano works Robert Schumann
Jorleyy #2852662 05/27/19 09:36 AM
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As is my reply for all of these “am I ready?” questions, try it and see. If you’re not up to it, It will become apparent very quickly.

Re: Piano works Robert Schumann
Jorleyy #2852667 05/27/19 09:45 AM
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If you love Schumann I recommend the new bio Schumann: The Faces and the Masks:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0451494466/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o08_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Besides the biographical information it has lots of discussion about Schumann's works.

I think the Davidsbundler is a somewhat neglected masterpiece and easier than the Fantasy.

Re: Piano works Robert Schumann
boo1234 #2852694 05/27/19 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by boo1234
As is my reply for all of these “am I ready?” questions, try it and see. If you’re not up to it, It will become apparent very quickly.


I agree; particularly with the level of performance already reached by the OP, s/he should be able to judge very soon how "playable" any of these Schumann works might be.

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Re: Piano works Robert Schumann
Jorleyy #2852752 05/27/19 12:48 PM
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Pianoloverus, thanks for drawing our attention to the new Schumann biography! How good is Chernaik's discussions of the actual music? Last year, I read John Worthen's biography which I think presents a very convincing rebuttal of all the romantic myths concerning Schumann's mental instabliity (which was largely only a factor in the last two years of his life which was almost certainly the result of tertiary syphilis) and dispels a lot of other myths about the man and his life. But his discussions of the music is at times frustrating. Schumann's music does decline in quality over time to my (and most people's) ears, but I would have enjoyed either a convincing challenge to my perception, or else an explanation. But we get neither, Worthen is an excellent literary scholar but he is a music lover, rather than a musicologist which means this biography, which I would still warmly recommend, remains a bit unbalanced.

Re: Piano works Robert Schumann
Hatchestron #2852823 05/27/19 04:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Hatchestron
Pianoloverus, thanks for drawing our attention to the new Schumann biography! How good is Chernaik's discussions of the actual music?
This was the first Schumann biography and first discussion of his music I've read so it's hard for me to answer your question. The analysis of his compositions was quite detailed, and his works are discussed in their order of composition to show how they fit in with the events in his life. There was an emphasis on all the hidden musical motifs in his music. Maybe you can find a better answer to your question in the Amazon reviews of the book.

Re: Piano works Robert Schumann
Jorleyy #2852848 05/27/19 05:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Jorleyy
Hi guys, I am obsessed by the piano music by Robert Schumann at the moment and especially his Davidsbündlertänze and Fantasie. I havent played much of his music, mostly Songs, and solo I have only played The Arabesque and Des Abends. Some major repertoire that I Have played (I study 2nd year bachelor at conservatory) include Chopin 1st Ballade and Barcarolle, Schubert D 845, Beethoven Op 109, Debussy Estampes etc, just to give you an idea of what kind of repertoire I have played. Would it be reasonable to try out any of these two major works by Schumann, or do you have any other suggestions? I know the fantasy would be a huge challenge, especially interpretation wise, but also the second movement seems to have an insane coda, worse than anything I have ever encountered. Plus I will never have played such a big piece before. But how about Davidsbündlertänze?
Thanks in advance


The Fantasie in C is one of the truly great piano compositions of all times, and if I had the chops to play it, I definitely would. The big difficulty with such big pieces is getting command of the overall architecture to make it all hang together.

The Davidsbündler is also superb and musically more complicated and sophisticated than, say, Carnival. From a learning standpoint, it has the advantage of being a suite of pieces, so you can learn them separately and then put it all together.


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Re: Piano works Robert Schumann
pianoloverus #2853031 05/28/19 07:57 AM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
If you love Schumann I recommend the new bio Schumann: The Faces and the Masks:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0451494466/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o08_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Besides the biographical information it has lots of discussion about Schumann's works.

I think the Davidsbundler is a somewhat neglected masterpiece and easier than the Fantasy.

Thanks for the suggestion. I am going to get the book.



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Re: Piano works Robert Schumann
Hatchestron #2853327 05/28/19 10:44 PM
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I am really enjoying the Judith Chernaik biography of Schumann. I am not in a position to judge the quality of the author's commentary on the music -- I'm embarrassed to admit how much of Schumann's music I did not know before my teacher assigned "Album for the Young" -- but this biography seems to have as much detail about the music as about Schumann's (other) life events. She describes the circumstances of each composition, its influences and inspirations, its structure. I keep setting down the book to hear some new piece of music (thank you streaming audio...). I might have to spend the summer listening to nothing but Schumann!

The new biographies of Debussy (by Stephen Walsh) and Chopin (Alan Walker) also await.


Currently at home with Mister Upright.
Re: Piano works Robert Schumann
Qwerty53 #2853773 05/30/19 04:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Qwerty53
...
The new biographies of Debussy (by Stephen Walsh) and Chopin (Alan Walker) also await.

Not to derail the thread, but I loved Alan Walker's Chopin biography. It's wonderfully balanced and really evaluates the sources, rather than overly relying on the many Chopin myths that have been repeated so much they've almost become canon over the years.


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Re: Piano works Robert Schumann
Jorleyy #2853922 05/30/19 02:54 PM
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I've become a huge Schumann fan over the last few years. I was learning the 3rd sonata, but I had to take two months off. I'm hoping I can return to it properly soon. The Fantasie is amazing. The end of the second movement is brutal though -I recently heard one of the world's great virtuosi play it quite sloppily. Not that that matters in a great performance. If you want to play it in public though, it might be bad for the nerves... grin

Re: Piano works Robert Schumann
johnstaf #2853964 05/30/19 04:56 PM
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Originally Posted by johnstaf
I've become a huge Schumann fan over the last few years. I was learning the 3rd sonata, but I had to take two months off. I'm hoping I can return to it properly soon. The Fantasie is amazing. The end of the second movement is brutal though -I recently heard one of the world's great virtuosi play it quite sloppily. Not that that matters in a great performance. If you want to play it in public though, it might be bad for the nerves... grin

When you're young and innocent, anything goes thumb

The Fantasie was the first major work of Robert that I learnt entirely by myself (after my last teacher got me to learn the Arabeske, followed by Carnaval and then Kreisleriana in quick succession: previously, I'd thought his music was overblown, overemotional, lacking structure and not deserving of my attention eek ), and was also the first piece I actually performed in public, in Cumberland Lodge (in Windsor Great Park, therefore a huge stately home owned by the Crown Estate). Somehow appropriate for such a big piece encompassing such a huge emotional range.

As for the accuracy of the coda of the March under my hands, that's been lost in the annals of forgotten memories. But I do remember that I didn't hold back...... smirk


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Piano works Robert Schumann
johnstaf #2853981 05/30/19 05:41 PM
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Originally Posted by johnstaf
I've become a huge Schumann fan over the last few years. I was learning the 3rd sonata, but I had to take two months off. I'm hoping I can return to it properly soon. The Fantasie is amazing. The end of the second movement is brutal though -I recently heard one of the world's great virtuosi play it quite sloppily. Not that that matters in a great performance. If you want to play it in public though, it might be bad for the nerves... grin


I am not up to those pieces, but I find many of the Kinderszenes and Bunte Blätter beautiful and many of those are within my capability to learn. A bit too much really, I have four of them I am learning now.

There is another I learnt but I could never make it sound nice even though it is simple. For those who like to denigrate Casio DPs as sounding plinky plonk, recordings of me playing it prove their point.

Re: Piano works Robert Schumann
KevinM #2854016 05/30/19 08:13 PM
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Originally Posted by KevinM
I am not up to those pieces, but I find many of the Kinderszenes and Bunte Blätter beautiful and many of those are within my capability to learn. A bit too much really, I have four of them I am learning now.
Here are some other great Schumann pieces you could consider now or in the near future:
Warum and Des Abends from Fantasy Pieces Op. 12
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1dhdUPl5YY
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBKRYXKyWJg
From Kreisleriana Nos. 4 and 6
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZHcerNk7qg
Blumenstuck
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDBsOgwnhnU
From Forest Scenes Nos. 3 and 6
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSUUI3_W4eQ
Finally, several of the Davdisbundler are wihin your reach.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 05/30/19 08:21 PM.
Re: Piano works Robert Schumann
Jorleyy #2854083 05/31/19 01:46 AM
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What a great forum. Thanks Sibylle for the Chopin reference. Just picked it up. And if your REALLY obsessed over Schumann you have to read:

https://www.amazon.com/Pianist-Under-Influence-Kindle-Single-ebook/dp/B009IPQKLQ/ref=nodl_


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Re: Piano works Robert Schumann
Jorleyy #2863084 06/26/19 05:38 PM
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Davidsbündlertänze is not at all easy and quite long, the other big Schumann cycles are op.2/9/13/16/20: Papillons, Carnaval, Etudes Symphoniques, Kreisleriana, Humoreske. The Fantasie and the sonatas are different 'sonata-like' pieces, op. 17 is considered to be one of the hardest pieces of the entire repertoire. As you seem to be a newcomer to this magnificent repertoire I would suggest to begin with one of the shorter cycles: 'Papillons' op.2, some would say: 'too easy, too simple!', but I started with this one and grew to like Schumann all the more.


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Re: Piano works Robert Schumann
dolce sfogato #2863096 06/26/19 06:33 PM
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Originally Posted by dolce sfogato
Davidsbündlertänze is not at all easy and quite long, the other big Schumann cycles are op.2/9/13/16/20: Papillons, Carnaval, Etudes Symphoniques, Kreisleriana, Humoreske. The Fantasie and the sonatas are different 'sonata-like' pieces, op. 17 is considered to be one of the hardest pieces of the entire repertoire. As you seem to be a newcomer to this magnificent repertoire I would suggest to begin with one of the shorter cycles: 'Papillons' op.2, some would say: 'too easy, too simple!', but I started with this one and grew to like Schumann all the more.


That is interesting. I purchased a new version of Kinderszenes recently to listen to and it includes a recording of Papillons as well. I wasn't taken with them too much at first but they have been growing on me. So I could imagine I will be learning some of those in the not too distant future.

Re: Piano works Robert Schumann
Jorleyy #2863100 06/26/19 06:49 PM
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Did any composers before or after Schumann compose cycles of short pieces meant to be played together? I can't think of (m)any. Perhaps Ravel's Valses Nobles et Sentimentales would qualify. Although I don't think they were meant to be played as suites, a collection of Schubert Waltzes my qualify.

Re: Piano works Robert Schumann
dolce sfogato #2863105 06/26/19 07:00 PM
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Originally Posted by dolce sfogato
Davidsbündlertänze is not at all easy and quite long, the other big Schumann cycles are op.2/9/13/16/20: Papillons, Carnaval, Etudes Symphoniques, Kreisleriana, Humoreske. The Fantasie and the sonatas are different 'sonata-like' pieces, op. 17 is considered to be one of the hardest pieces of the entire repertoire.
I assume Schumann's Fantasy PIeces Op. 12 isn't generally considered a cycle because of the length of the pieces and because some of the pieces are frequently played separately? Or is there a more specific reason? Do we know which collections of pieces Schumann specifically intended to be played together?

What about his Faschingsschwank aus Wien? My impression is that professionals usually play these together.

Re: Piano works Robert Schumann
Jorleyy #2864102 06/30/19 03:27 AM
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The Schumann biography Schumann: The Faces and the Masks is very good. I read it when it first came out. It details chronologically his piano works in relation to his life, also his long forgotten instrumental and choral works such as "Das Paradies und die Peri", an oratorio recently performed here by the LA Phil this season. I mentioned this bio in a previous thread, a worthwhile read as it details his early family life, his early friendship, with Friedrich Wieck, the later estrangement over Clara, their marriage, and later mental illness most likely due to syphilis. The musical hidden messages are detailed in the early piano works, plus a brief mention of Schumann's final piano work, the "Ghost" Variations.(Geistervariationen), withheld for publication by Brahms.

As for the Fantasy in C, I've been working on it off and on. The second movement is difficult, particularly the octave jumps and the emphasis on the fifth fingers. It's a real workout for the left hand! Lots of slow practice to achieve accuracy and that is still not a guarantee when one performs up to speed. The last movement is so moving. I use the original ending discovered by Andras Schiff, it makes the piece a complete cycle as it quotes the Beethoven motif again, which is the secret message to Clara.


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