Inside the Music | Shape of Germany | Early Romantic | Classical

Unlike the ‘New German School’ of Liszt and Wagner, Schumann did not pursue a path of radical experimentation in form and harmony; his style more aptly encapsulates German literary Romanticism in music, interpreting the rhythms and melodic shapes of German poetry and folk music through his own ardent and whimsical nature, and incorporating themes and ideas from Goethe, Tisch, Schlagel and Heine amongst others. Among earlier composers who were significant for him was J. S. Bach – occasional Baroque-style passages occur in many works, and he was also interested in counterpoint, even writing a set of canons for pedal-piano (an instrument fitted with an organ-style pedal board). Schumann also revered Schubert – his Papillons op. 2 are very close to Schubert’s own waltzes, and he is reported to have wept all night at hearing of Schubert’s death. Perhaps a more significant influence than any one composer was that of German Romantic writers including Jean Paul Richter and E.T.A. Hoffmann, whose creations inspired such pieces as Kreisleriana op.16.

Schumann’s A minor Concerto later served as a model both in form and gesture for Grieg’s famous concerto in the same key; on a smaller scale, his Album für die Jugend (‘Album for the Young’) op. 68 and Kinderszenen (‘Scenes from Childhood’) op. 15 are the direct ancestor of much adventurous piano music written for children (or about childhood) by composers such as Debussy, Dmitri Kabalevsky (1904–87) and Bartók.

Inside the Music | Piano Technology | Early Romantic | Classical


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