The Piano Sonata in G minor
The Sonata’s 150 year eclipse and re-emergence
No study of Wieck-Schumann’s compositions is complete without a consideration
of her largest solo piano work, the four-movement Sonata in G minor. The Sonata holds a
central place in her work for many reasons. Temporally it falls at around the midpoint of
her compositional career. Some twelve years after beginning her op. 1 in 1829 she began
writing the Sonata at the end of 1841. Twelve years after the Sonata’s completion in early
1842, she had virtually ceased composing due to Schumann’s committal to an asylum in
early 1854. Wieck-Schumann was only 22 when she wrote the Sonata, younger than the
age at which Beethoven and Schumann had published their first completed piano sonatas.
The charming story of the work’s genesis suggests a possible publisher’s title in
the style of the day, such as Christmas Sonata. Nauhaus’s description of the
circumstances around its writing (1991, p. 6) is summarised in the following paragraph.
Wieck-Schumann had been occupied in December preparing two performances with
Liszt of his Hexameron and other works. Consequently, she had only the week before
Christmas to commence composing two movements of the Sonata in between attending
to Christmas arrangements. Like much of her music, it was written for a specific
occasion, Christmas 1841, when she gave Robert what was temporarily entitled a
Sonatine: Allegro and Scherzo. At the same time she expressed the intention of writing
two additional movements to complete the work as a Sonata.1 Robert’s reciprocal gift
was Schlummerlied op. 124/16. After Christmas, with its lighted Christmas tree which
delighted their new baby Marie, Wieck-Schumann had to prepare for more performances
in early 1842. However, by mid-January the Sonata was completed with a song-like slow
movement and a Rondo finale, which became its second and fourth movements.
Both Schumanns expressed satisfaction with the first two movements (Nauhaus,
1991, p. 6). It therefore seems very surprising that nothing more was heard of the work
That there was a concept of an extended work from the outset is important in view of the extensive
thematic relationships between each movement.
for nearly one and a half centuries, when it can be assumed that a mature complete sonata
by one of the contemporaries whose fame she equalled in various ways - Mendelssohn,
Chopin, Schumann or Liszt - would have been performed and published long before. Her
Sonata’s obscurity was such that Litzmann, Wieck-Schumann’s first biographer,
seemingly was unaware that it had been continued beyond the initial two movements
(Reich, 2001, p. 324). One possible general reason for its neglect - that Wieck-Schumann
was a lesser composer – has been discounted (Klassen, 1990, p. 269). This study refutes a
second possible reason, that the Sonata was a minor work. The answers lie elsewhere.
Why Wieck-Schumann did not perform or publish the Sonata
The first issue to be addressed is the composer’s neglect of her Sonata. As a
concert artist, Wieck-Schumann would have had little use for it, as sonatas were rarely
performed in their entirety in public concerts in the first half of the 19th century (May,
1912, p. 65). Virtuoso works and short lyrical pieces, arranged in small groupings, took
the place of larger works (Ferris, 2003, pp. 395-396). For the musically-educated Kenner
(connoisseurs), there were Hausmusik gatherings where repertoire selection was much
freer and Wieck-Schumann could introduce new works including some of Schumann’s.
By contrast, when she or Liszt performed Schumann’s larger works in public concerts
over the decades 1835-55, they both reported a poor audience response and lack of
understanding (Newcomb, 2004, p. 269).
Clara gave details of two of her planned public concerts in Berlin in a letter to
Robert in November 1839:
1) Trio in B-flat by Beethoven, 2) solo pieces such as Sonata by Scarlatti, “Ave Maria” by
Schubert, Novellette in A or E major by you, Etude by Henselt or Chopin, 3) Variations by
me or Henselt. At the second soiree: 1) Trio by Schubert, 2) Fugue by Bach, Nocturne by
Chopin, Scherzo by me, “Erlkönig,” 3) Paccini-Fantasy [sic] by Liszt (Schumann &
Schumann, 1996, p. 488).
The only Sonata mentioned was one by Scarlatti, which makes plain how out of
step with such typical concert programs a four-movement solo sonata would have been.
An instrumental sonata or a chamber music trio was more acceptable than a piano sonata
because it had the variety value of several performers. Only a short segment devoted to
solo playing was tolerated in a public concert before the critical reviews of the day would
describe it as monotonous (Ferris, 2003, p. 360). Nevertheless, in the end, WieckSchumann decided to include Schumann’s G minor Sonata op. 22 in her Berlin program
for the first time in a public concert (Schumann & Schumann, 2002, p. 36). Its lukewarm
reception led Schumann to decide that in future they would only “play such things for
each other” (p. 71). As a result, no further public concert performances of his large piano
solo works were given until just before his death, when Wieck-Schumann programmed
Carnaval (De Vries, 1996, p. 373).
Her attitude to her Sonata’s performance would have been influenced by
Schumann’s decision, despite the fact that some of her earlier compositions, including a
full-length concerto, presented in concerts during the 1830s, had achieved public success
when Schumann’s had not. She had already realised in the 1830s that “Intimate music is
not at home in a concert hall” (Schumann & Schumann, 1996, p. 85), which may have
affected decisions on the future of her Piano Sonata. Its lavish detail and thematic crossreferencing support the idea that her Sonata was designed for a small Hausmusik
audience of Kenner, and help to explain the lack of a concert performance.
That her Sonata never was introduced to such a select audience was due to WieckSchumann’s growing realisation that the tastes even of trained musicians had turned
towards display pieces. In August 1841, some months prior to writing her Sonata, she had
played several Beethoven sonatas at home for fellow musicians, but was disappointed to
learn from their reactions that “cultural expectations have been directed more toward the
realm of virtuosity than true music” (Schumann & Schumann, 1993, p. 103).
Most piano composers provided advocacy of their own compositions through
their performances, thereby creating both a publisher’s market and a performance
practice tradition for others to follow. This was rarely provided by Wieck-Schumann
after marriage, and not at all with the Sonata. As Johan Triest recognised in 1802, “it
takes but one virtuoso public performance to transform the playing of hundreds of
amateurs” (Muxfeldt, 2001, p. 38). The difference made by masterly advocacy is borne
out by one reviewer who changed his evaluation of Wieck-Schumann’s compositions
completely and extremely favourably after hearing superior interpretations (French, 2003,
As a consequence of public distaste for them, very few sonatas or sonatinas were
published in the 1840s. Schumann’s composer-critic friend Hirschbach, writing in the
Neue Zeitschrift für Musik at the time, “came to the ironic conclusion that the sonata is
too boring, too exhausting to create and enjoy, and … too hard to present to the public”
(cited in Nauhaus, 1991, p. 8).
It seems likely that Wieck-Schumann had no intention of publishing her Sonata
within months of its completion, because she re-used some of its ideas in other works
completed and/or published between 1842 and 1845. The Sonata’s Scherzo was
published in 1845 as op. 15/4 in the Quatre pièces fugitives. Nauhaus pointed out that the
Sonata’s Rondo has a similar opening to the song Sie liebten sich beide op. 13/2,
published in 1844 (1991, p. 7). No detailed mention has yet been made of the extent of
inter-quotation between the Sonata and her Scherzo op. 14 in C minor, assumed written
after 1841 and published in 1845.1 It involves about four lines of music in each work,
where twenty bars (19-38) of op. 14 are essentially the same as ten bars (92-101) in the
development of the Sonata’s first movement. This extensive connection between the two
works is not immediately apparent because the self-quotation occurs away from obvious
section beginnings and because the Scherzo is in triple metre while the Sonata in
It is more properly a case of re-use of material put aside than a self-quotation.
Example 5. 1. Wieck-Schumann, Scherzo op. 14, bars 19-22 and 37-38.
Example 5. 2. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata first movement, bars 92-93 and 101.
The conclusion that none of these works would have been published if the Sonata
had been intended for publication is based on Wieck-Schumann’s opinion of those who
repeated their compositional ideas. Since she commented adversely upon Ferdinand
David’s lack of variety of invention (Schumann & Schumann, 1993, p. 24), she would
hardly have laid herself open to the same charge over the large amount of material shared
between the Sonata’s first movement and the Scherzo op. 14.
Schumann’s possible influence on the lack of performance or publication
On the perennial problem of a performer’s confidence, Wieck-Schumann wrote:
“Encouragement from others is always a necessity; it gives you resolve and the ability to
perform at a higher level than you could almost never expect from yourself” (cited in
Reich, 2001, p. 77). Encouragement to perform her Sonata was unlikely to have been
forthcoming from Robert who had not wanted her to perform at all for a period:
you should forget the musician in the first year of our marriage; you should live for no
one but yourself and your house and your husband, and just wait and see how I make you
forget the musician – no, the wife is more important than the musician, and my fondest
wish will have been fulfilled if I can get you to have nothing more to do with the public
(Schumann & Schumann, 1996, p. 246).
Since Clara was unable to play when Robert was composing, it is possible that he
never heard her play her Sonata in its entirety, or heard it only once, thus missing the
opportunity of becoming well acquainted with it through the medium of her persuasive
interpretive and performance gifts while she practised it. She wrote: “My piano playing
again falls completely by the wayside, as is always the case when Robert composes. Not
a single little hour can be found for me the entire day!” (Schumann & Schumann, 1993,
p. 84).1 Her extraordinarily busy life was another factor, as she juggled the demands of
careers as a performer, as assistant to her husband in rehearsals and as piano-score
arranger, and especially as a mother, with frequent pregnancies until her eighth and last
child was born in 1854.
Among the many possible reasons for her failure to publish her Sonata is the fact
that Schumann merely mentioned its completion some three weeks after the first two
movements without further comment in the marriage diaries. There is no record of his
opinion of the complete Sonata. If indeed he expressed none, Wieck-Schumann may have
construed silence as discouragement to proceed with publication. She relied partly on his
opinion of the quality of her compositions because of her feelings of inadequacy at daring
to attempt anything at all in a field reserved for men (Reich, 2001, p. 216).
Wieck-Schumann had approached publishers herself before her marriage, for
instance for publication of the op. 10 Scherzo. However, after their marriage, it was often
Schumann who negotiated for the printing of her music, as he did with some of her songs
and the Preludes and Fugues op. 16 (Reich, 2001, p. 310). Again, there is no evidence
that he made efforts to approach publishers on the Sonata’s behalf, beyond
recommending its Scherzo for publication as one of the Quatre pièces fugitives op. 15 (p.
308). One reason could have been that Schumann’s own writing of piano sonatas had
come to an end by then. His opinion, given in a long 1839 article, was that the sonata
“had run its course.” However, he expected that “single beautiful examples in this
category will surely show up here and there, and already have” (cited in Plantinga, 1976,
Ostwald referred to Clara’s partial ‘self-sacrifice’ of her career to accommodate marriage (1980, p. 31),
but not to any self-sacrifice on Robert’s part.
In 1836 he had reviewed Julie Baroni-Cavalcabo’s op. 1, observing that it was in
sonata form, and suggesting the addition of two further movements to make a complete
sonata which would enhance the composer’s reputation (Marston, 1992, p. 30). It was
therefore inconsistent if he did not encourage Wieck-Schumann similarly to publish her
sonata for the resultant enhancement of her reputation as a composer. For young
composers, Schumann had written that “there is no more distinguished form with which
they could make themselves known and respected by higher criticism. Most of the
sonatas of this kind are therefore to be regarded as merely examples, or studies in form”
(Plantinga, 1976, p. 150). Despite the fact that she had already published a very
successful Concerto, Wieck-Schumann may have thought of her Sonata from the outset
as an ‘apprentice piece’ - a Meisterstück in German in the centuries-old sense of the term.
It would qualify her for entry to the ‘guild’ as a master of the craft of composition, at
least in Schumann’s eyes (his was the only opinion that mattered to her), but would not
necessarily be published.
Within Wieck-Schumann’s lifetime, the passage of time was to bring no more
favourable a climate for publishing women’s compositions than when the Sonata was
completed in early 1842. Kimber noted that “as late as 1888, an article in The Musical
Times found it laudable that Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel did not undertake a ‘descent’
into the arena of publishing” (2004, p. 317). Mendelssohn-Hensel’s own G minor Piano
Sonata was written in 1843 and first published in 1991. Citron discussed many reasons
for the lack of publications of women’s music in “Gender, Professionalism and the
Musical Canon” (1990). The situation remained unchanged until recently: it has been
pointed out that the third edition of Grout’s widely-used A History of Western Music
(1980) did not grant even a passing mention to a single female composer (Gates, 1992, p.
1, note 2).
Considering all the circumstances, it is understandable that Wieck-Schumann did
not perform or publish her Sonata, especially in the years after Schumann’s death which
were devoted largely to promoting his music.
Models and stylistic comparison; Schumann’s Sonata op. 22
When Wieck-Schumann began her Sonata in 1841, sonata writing was at a low
ebb, with some very poor quality sonatas having been reviewed by Schumann in the
1830s. An example is the Sonata op. 32 by H. Enckhausen, described as “a good
illustration of the prevailing style of sonatas in Germany at that time”  (Plantinga,
1976, p. 150). Its arid and banal opening phrases moving between tonic and dominant are
very far from the sophistication of Wieck-Schumann’s work:
Example 5. 3. Enckhausen, Sonata op. 32, first movement, bars 1-8 (Plantinga, 1976, p. 150).
In 1839 Schumann had reviewed a Sonata in G minor by Grund very favourably
(Plantinga, 1976, p. 148). Wieck-Schumann must have realised she could write a work of
a class superior to either of those sonatas, even if it were to remain in the private sphere.
Worthier Romantic sonata models available to her included Sonatas by Field, Schubert
and Weber, Schumann’s three and Chopin’s C minor and Bb minor Sonatas (the B minor
was not yet written).
As a single model is not identifiable for Wieck-Schumann’s Sonata, inevitably it
invites comparison with Schumann’s Sonata op. 22 in the same key of G minor.
Schumann’s Sonata was considered by a writer in 1844 to be in “the existing, traditional
sonata form” (Kossmaly, 1994, p. 313). Simpler in conception than Wieck-Schumann’s,
the first movement reduces itself essentially to dualities with either constant semiquavers
accompanying the first subject or fairly constant quavers under the second subject theme.
The same pattern is used in the fourth movement to a still more marked degree. WieckSchumann’s Sonata evolves more discursively, partly due to the insertion of a wellintegrated but free-sounding episode after the second subject in the first movement. Many
shades of mood unfold in its first movement, whereas Schumann’s op. 22 Sonata
proceeds by discrete blocks, each with one mood. He did, in fact, compose it by moving
around large blocks of writing (Roesner, 1977, pp. 107-109).
Another reason for the comparison is that the two Sonatas are in the same key,
and the idea of particular keys as conveyors of certain characters and emotions was
widespread at the time.1 From the age of 13 Schumann had known the work of Schubart
(1739-91) on key affects and had written that he “could imagine different keys as
expressive of various moods” (Sams, 1993, p. 8). Although he disagreed with Schubart’s
classification of G minor as a key of discontent and anger (Schumann, 1947, p. 60),
Schumann imbued his Sonata in G minor with a related sense of desperation. His Sonata
is more uniform in colour and emotional states in its fast movements, with thinner partwriting than Wieck-Schumann’s. Its obsessive angst works as a virtue: in performance
the work becomes a twenty-minute tornado with the slow movement as the calm in the
eye of the storm.
Wieck-Schumann’s Sonata has a quite different character, avoiding extremes,
despite its intensity, for a greater sense of emotional balance. Yet she almost certainly
had a wilder performing style before Schumann toned her playing down, for which there
is considerable evidence besides his lessons to her on his Sonata op. 22 (Schumann &
Schumann, 2002, p. 14). Such a quietening may be evident in the ending of her Sonata,
where there is only a very short Presto compared to Schumann’s coda, perhaps due to his
cautions against a “wild” interpretation of his op. 22 (p. 56).2
The impression of wildness in Schumann’s G minor Sonata is made partly by
sheer speed, especially in the codas, but also by the continuous movement of
semiquavers. Although the semiquavers give drive, repetition limits the play of free
fantasy. Wieck-Schumann’s avoidance of pervasive patterns in the first movement
There were relatively few piano sonatas in G minor prior to Schumann’s in 1837. Mozart, Hummel,
Schubert and Weber had written none in that key. Beethoven had only the small two-movement Sonata op.
49, although four of Clementi’s sixty-four sonatas were in G minor. In the early 1830s, Schumann’s friend
Ludwig Schuncke dedicated a Sonata in G minor op. 3 to him (Draheim, 1986, p. 4).
Anything perceived as ‘wild’ was socially taboo for women. Of Clara at thirteen, Schumann had written
to his mother that she was still “wild and enthusiastic…and saying the most intensely thoughtful things”
(cited in Chissell, 1983, p. 30). An author of a generation previous to the Schumanns, Sophie Mereau, had
observed that women’s epistolatory writing was less wild, “less fiery and enthusiastic” than men’s (cited in
Muxfeldt, 2001, p. 33). Beyond its male-gendered associations, ‘wild’ was a term employed for the French
romantic style by contemporary reviewers outside France: a Viennese critic in 1838 wrote of Liszt that “his
entire manner of composing and playing is something which I might describe with the name ‘wild
romanticism,’ which the French in all branches of art have produced in such great excess” (cited in Gooley,
2004, p. 123).
imbues it with a greater sense of improvisation and diversity. With its tempo changes for
the episode, codetta, coda, and changes in beat divisions to triplets in the development –
each of which highlights a distinct character change - her movement traverses in most
pages more varied material than Schumann’s entire exposition.
A single fortissimo marking in Wieck-Schumann’s Sonata contrasts with frequent
fortissimo directions in Schumann’s Sonata. There is also little in the way of conventional
piano figuration, unlike the broken-chord openings of Schumann’s G minor Sonata and
Chopin’s Bb minor Sonata. There are no Alberti-derived basses as there are in
Schumann’s first movement (see bars 173-179), no broken octaves as in his last
movement, and few scale or arpeggio formations that remain unmodified by expressive
appoggiaturas or chromatic notes. Unlike the Sonatas of Chopin, Schumann or Liszt, the
octave doubling of melodies occurs rarely, the main instance being four bars near the end
of the first movement from bar 204.
As in Field’s and Schubert’s B major Sonatas, Wieck-Schumann’s Sonata
concentrates on lyrical writing, some of it in her preferred loosely four-part style. The
semiquavers of the Rondo are melodically conceived, with nothing that could be
construed as the “passagework” deprecated by Wieck-Schumann in her teaching (Lara,
1945, p. 146). Such potential interpretive pitfalls are reduced by omitting the more usual
elements of virtuoso writing, yet without reducing the Sonata’s challenging technical and
The Scherzo movement of Schumann’s G minor Sonata is extremely short and
fast, functioning as a prelude to the last movement in the same key to create an overall
effect of a three-movement structure. Wieck-Schumann’s Scherzo, differentiated from
the movements surrounding it by its lighter character and largely three-part writing style,
divides her Sonata into four very distinct movements (fast-slow-fast-moderate).
The most obvious points of comparison between the Schumanns’ Sonatas occur in
their coda sections. While Wieck-Schumann’s Rondo is shorter than the last movements
of either Schumann’s Sonatas opp. 11 or 14, its sixteen-bar coda and rocking figuration
shapes equate to the final 17 bars of Schumann’s op. 14 Sonata in F minor. Many such
final-movement schemes must be beholden to the model provided by the Presto finale
coda of Beethoven’s ‘Appassionata’ Sonata op. 57.
The reception of Wieck-Schumann’s Sonata
Wieck-Schumann’s G Minor Sonata was given its world premiere in 1989, was
published for the first time in 1991, and has since been recorded by several pianists. The
reception history of the Sonata is limited to Schumann and writers from 1991 onwards.
Schumann’s reaction to the first two movements written (the first and third) was
delight: “utterly delicate [recht zart] and much purer in their writing than anything she
has written before” (Nauhaus, 1991, p. 6). Those characteristics appear to apply more to
the Scherzo than the first movement. Judging by Schumann’s disapproval of the
originality of form in her Concerto op. 7 (Macdonald, 1991, p. 676), he may have had
reservations about the first movement’s freedom of form created by the episode within
the second subject area. Nevertheless, this feature was another which ensured that her
Sonata was not one of those conventional works which Schumann had described as “a
straggler from former times” (cited in Plantinga, 1976, p. 152).
For Chissell, the reason for the Sonata not being published was that “the whole
work is so strongly influenced by Mendelssohn” (1983, p. 82). The claim is not defended
and appears to hinge only on the Scherzo movement, because on other occasions Chissell
judged anything scherzando in character as Mendelssohnian (cf. opp. 15/2 and 15/4, p.
95). No other writer has made a similar comment, and it would be hard to pinpoint which
Mendelssohn works supposedly influenced the Sonata.
Nauhaus’s three-page Preface to the score, while containing no detailed analysis,
has very useful musical comments and historical material. He thought highly of the
composer for her “impressive mastery of formal design as well as her skilfulness in
shaping charming details” in a work he found to be “singularly attractive, harmonically
captivating, and pianistically demanding” (1991, p. 7).
Kimber was guarded in her single paragraph devoted to the Sonata, although the
second movement was praised for its “Beethovenian profundity” (2004, p. 330). Her
opinion on the only previously-published part, the Scherzo, appears to be derived from a
contemporary review cited in Reich (2001, p. 309). Kimber’s few sentences on the
Sonata do not reveal any detailed study, and its assessment as “somewhat conservative”
(2004, p. 330) is not borne out by a closer examination of the work. The criticism of the
Rondo fourth movement as “repetitive and formally hidebound” (p. 330) is merely a
generic statement of an inherent danger of rondo form. In fact, such a charge was artfully
avoided in Wieck-Schumann’s Sonata, as this chapter will demonstrate.
There are several noteworthy features of the Sonata’s first movement. One is its
form with a fast-moving fantasy-style episode within the exposition after the second
subject. Another is the original use of the ‘link’ motif which is at once part of the
movement’s propulsion and its cohesion. Within the episode, colour is added by the
chromaticism of numerous passing notes and some exuberant rapidly-moving
modulations. Overall, the first movement mines a rich lode of ideas that are particularly
varied in mood yet are bound together by means ranging from repeated motifs to repeated
underlying harmonic progressions.
The polarities more common in sonata form, perceived to be male-gendered by
Citron and others (1994, p. 19), are displaced by a more flowing continuum in WieckSchumann’s Sonata. The choice of keys in the first movement contributes to the softening
effect, because it avoids a classical tonic-dominant opposition and follows a Schubertian
model in having the second subject area in the submediant (Webster, 1978, p. 22) – the
key also of the second movement. Half of the exposition has its key signature changed to
Before the exposition is discussed, the borderlines of quotation, motif and
influence are examined in relation to the opening two-bar phrase of the Sonata’s first
theme. These bars were identified as a “recall” of Weber’s Konzertstück for Piano and
Orchestra by Nauhaus (1991, p. 7). Certainly, the melodic intervals are transposed
exactly and the harmony is similar until the final chord of the second bar, although the
Sonata has a very different terse and stern character compared to the Weber work’s
drooping and sighing melancholy. The difference is due to the greater angularity of the
Sonata’s 4/4 time signature, the Allegro tempo indication replacing Weber’s Larghetto,
and the more energised dominant chord ending in place of Weber’s gentle falling back to
a tonic first inversion chord:
Example 5. 4. Weber, Konzertstück, bars 1-2; Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, 1st mvt, bars 1-2.
Weber: bars 1-2
Wieck-Schumann: bars 1-2
The idea’s precise origin is difficult to determine in the genealogical line of
works which have similar thematic ideas. The first three melodic notes of the Sonata and
Konzertstück were termed for convenience the ‘Sonata’ motif in Chapter 3 (Example
3.43). It was a motif that had already been used to set the phrase ‘love for love’ twice in
Wieck-Schumann’s song Walzer in 1833 (see Example 3.43). The motif was to become a
musical foundation stone for both the Schumanns. G. Moore found that its three-note
shape in various keys was used by Schumann “in moments of deep emotion,” and he
cited Frauenliebe und Leben op. 42/6 of 1840 as one example (1981, p. 80). The
reference to that cycle is very pertinent in view of allusions to Frauenliebe in the
Sonata’s second movement (see Examples 5.31, 5.32).
One reason for assuming the first subject to be a quotation of Weber is because
the Konzertstück “ranked among Clara’s favourite works” (Nauhaus, 1994, p. 8). In view
of Wieck-Schumann’s written assurance that she “certainly” alluded to Schumann’s
music (Litzmann, 1979, Vol. 2, p. 348), an intentional Schumann quotation is a distinct
possibility. A very likely source is the Scherzo of his First Symphony in Bb op. 38.
Although it has not been suggested previously, its main theme also happens to be a
quotation of Weber’s Konzertstück.1
Written partly at her urging and begun not long after their marriage, Schumann’s
First Symphony, called the Spring, was a source of enormous delight and pride for
Wieck-Schumann. Robert presented her with the printed parts for her 22nd birthday, two
months before the writing of her Sonata. On January 17th 1842, she began arranging the
Symphony for piano duet (Reich, 2001, p. 334), a task she probably planned while
A number of writers have commented on other resemblances between Schumann and Weber (see Todd,
1994, pp. 96-97; Reynolds, 2003, p. 194, note 27).
completing her Sonata’s second and fourth movements in the preceding days. The theme
of the Symphony’s Scherzo begins in bar 5. In triple metre like Weber’s Konzertstück
theme, its harmonisation differs from Weber’s in the final chord, corresponding to
Wieck-Schumann’s dominant ending. As in her Sonata’s opening, where bars 4-6 rise in
three tiers, Schumann’s opening bars also have a three-tier rise to G, Bb and F, with the
latter peak on F being the one she may have quoted:
Example 5. 5. Schumann, Symphony No. 1, Scherzo, piano reduction, bars 5-8 (arr. Selmon).
A separate possible quotation within the Sonata’s first theme is of the first four
descending notes of Schumann’s op. 22 Sonata. This suggestion gains credence from
Clara’s letters to Robert about her constant improvisations on his op. 22 opening theme.
In March 1838, she notated its first six bars into a letter with the confession: “often I idle
away my time improvising on my favourite theme” (Schumann & Schumann, 1994, p.
114). A February 1839 letter contained her manuscript notation of just the falling four
notes of Schumann’s theme from the first movement’s closing section bars 204-205 with
the comment: “I love it so much; it is so passionate” (Schumann & Schumann, 1996, p.
Example 5. 6. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, bars 1-2; her hand-notation of Schumann.
Clara Wieck’s hand-notation of two bars from
Schumann’s Sonata in a letter of 1839 (1996, p. 85):
The present writer’s conclusion is that the opening two bars of her Sonata’s first
theme were probably not intended as a direct quotation of Weber but as an amalgamation
of several favourite motifs and references to Schumann’s works. These are the three notes
of the ‘Sonata’ motif, Schumann’s First Symphony Scherzo theme, and the descending
tetrachord theme of his Sonata op. 22 in the same key as hers. While she may have
welcomed the similarity to Weber, the references to Schumann seem more likely to have
been intentional and of deeper personal significance.
The first movement of Wieck-Schumann’s Sonata can be described as an
embellished sonata form because of the faster-speed episodes within the exposition and
recapitulation. Proportional lengths show that the development is only twelve bars longer
than each episode. The first and second time repeat bars ending the exposition and
beginning the development share the same bar numbers 84-85:
Example 5. 7. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, first movement, form.
Tempi in score
1-85 (85 bars total)
1-16 (16 bars)
17-26 (10 bars)
26-44 (19 bars)
44-70 (27 bars)
70-85 (16 bars)
84-122 (39 bars total)
123-192 (69 bars
123-138 (16 bars)
138-150 (13 bars)
150-167 (18 bars)
167-193 (27 bars)
193-219 (27 bars
Eb and modulations
(g,) c, f, f#, g
G and modulations
Um vieles schneller
The first movement opens with a declamatory first subject of an increasingly
energised character. Built in three stages over an unusual six-bar length, the theme is a
series of escalating gestures: in timing through increasingly shorter rests; in tension
through increasingly chromatic harmony; and in structure through successively higher
pitches with increasing dynamics. The theme’s arresting qualities also come from the
dramatic use of discontinuity through silence, which, combined with the overall rising
shape of the melody, gives it an interrogatory, challenging and intense tone. Like other
themes in the Sonata, the first is a series of short motifs joined together. Rhetorical
interruptions are partly offset by internal continuities such as the melody note D from bar
2 which becomes the first note of bar 3.
The theme’s last four descending notes in bars 1-2 are inverted immediately to a
rising answer in bar 3, extending into a rising third motif across the bar line. Bar 4’s
melodic falling second is repeated in three groups of falling seconds in bars 5-6, building
to the climax point with a chromatically rising bass line. The first theme is abruptly cut
off and left open on the dominant at the end of its rise:
Example 5. 8. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, first movement, bars 1-6.
In bars 7-10, the first subject idea is decorated in a free retrograde descent, varied
on its repeat up to bar 14. Its treatment is paradigmatic in showing how the themes in the
outer movements of the Sonata are treated almost as improvisatory material expanding
quickly into groups of related ideas:
Example 5. 9. Comparison sketch of Sonata bars 1-6 and 7-10.
Beneath the retrograde melody with its false relations runs a continuous dominant
pedal from bars 7-14 and an imitative tenor part whose neighbour notes form expressive
dissonances with the chords above it.
After the return of the first theme’s opening in bars 15-16, the ‘link’ motif is
introduced in bars 20 and 22. Its constant quaver movement, preparing for the quaverbased second subject, alternates with the rhythm of the first theme to form the transition
leading into the second subject. Some of the ‘link’ motif’s metamorphoses in the first
movement exposition and development are illustrated in the following Example 5.10,
with their initial highest notes or a particular contour aligned:
Example 5. 10. The ‘link’ motif in Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, first movement.
A basic building block of the first
movement, the ‘link’ motif appears for the
first time in bar 20. Predominantly a
descending figure, it is distinguishable by its
appoggiaturas and other decorative notes
from ordinary arpeggiated chords which
appear particularly in the development.
Bar 67: whose quotation?
Bar 67 of the Sonata, shown shaded in the
left column, is repeated exactly transposed in
Schumann’s Piano Concerto of 1845, from
bar 11 of its second movement (Nauhaus,
1991, p. 7). However, a similar idea in bar
451 of the Concerto’s first movement
cadenza may have existed in the no-longer
extant Phantasie of 1841 which became the
first movement of the Concerto. It may well
have been the source for the second
movement’s idea. Draheim noted that
Boetticher was in error when he thought he
could reconstruct the Phantasie (personal
Therefore it is no longer possible to tell
whether Schumann was alluding to the
Sonata or Wieck-Schumann to the
A strong structural position is given to the
phrase in both the Schumanns’ works. It acts
as a climax and turning point in the
Concerto’s cadenza, besides acting as a
theme in the Concerto slow movement. In
the Sonata, its appearance ends the episode
and links into the codetta. It is notable that
this is a very similar section-ending position
Schlummerlied which Wieck-Schumann
made in her Sonata’s slow movement.
The second subject begins in bar 26 in the submediant key of Eb. Its running
quavers are a feature of the remainder of the exposition until just before the codetta,
except for significant interpolations in bars 35-37, 39 and 41. Although given liveliness
by its quaver movement, the second subject’s gentle fall and closed harmony create a
much less turbulent and unstable character than that of the first theme. Its melodic
derivation from bar 3 of the first theme by inversion (Nauhaus, 1991, p. 7) is made
clearer by the shared staccato articulation of its second fall in bar 27. The second subject
can be regarded also as two ‘Clara’ themes, each falling a sixth, just as the first theme
had fallen a sixth in its first two bars from Bb to D:
Example 5. 11. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, first movement, bars 26-28.
While a closed Eb-Eb harmony over two bars might seem to limit modulatory
development, a stable harmonic foundation is a necessary pre-condition for the following
episode. Before the episode begins, several important themes are introduced. The first is
the Scherzo theme, with the same harmony and the same three-part writing which will
open the third movement:
Example 5. 12. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, first movement, bars 30-31.
The second thematic idea to be introduced is the repeated note ‘codetta’ motif
(Type 4: see Example 3.75) with accents marked just as they are in the codetta section
bar 80. With an added falling contour, variant types of the repeated note motif will be
used to form the codetta section, the beginning of the development section, the end of the
first movement at Andante, and the opening notes of the second movement theme:
Example 5. 13. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, first movement, bars 35-38.
The episode is a discrete addition and extension to the exposition. In a sense it is
analogous to Romantic novels with interpolated poems, such as Rollett’s Jucunde from
which Wieck-Schumann chose poetry for her op. 23 songs. An interpolation because it is
self-contained, the episode theoretically could be omitted by performing the work up to
bar 44 and resuming it from bar 70, ignoring the animato and crescendo leading to bar
44. The Sonata would then become more conventional and less fanciful. Material for the
cyclic recall in the last movement would also be lost because the four-bar animato link
into the recapitulation’s episode in the last movement is quoted in similar episodes in the
Rondo’s B sections (Examples 5.53, 5.54). Integral to the Sonata as a whole and to the
first movement, the episode develops the second theme and the ‘link’ motif related to it
by its quaver rhythm, while adding its own variety and intensity.
A close antecedent is hard to find. Schumann’s Phantasie op. 17 is unthinkable
without its Im Legendenton section. Daverio’s view of Im Legendenton as a “digression”
fitting the “humorous, witty, or sentimental digressions” of Schlegel’s Arabeske ideas
(1987, p. 151) was questioned by Marston, who considered the section “not only the
literal but also the figural centre of the work” (1993, p. 238). However, “humorous, witty,
or sentimental digression” does describe the episode of Wieck-Schumann’s Sonata very
aptly. Beethoven provided general models in the sense that his sonata forms were
individually conceived responses. The first movement of his Sonata quasi fantasia op.
27/1 in Eb contains a sharply contrasted fast “episode” in C major (Tovey, 1931, p. 32)
where a development section would be expected if the first section itself were not so
variation-like. Wieck-Schumann’s episode is quite different, as it is not an abrupt change
of material, but is designed to flow organically from the previous material. The tempo
indication Um vieles schneller is prepared by three bars of animato from bar 41.
Emphasising the section’s improvisatory nature, the eight bars leading into it in the
recapitulation have been re-written.
Its description as an ‘episode’ is justified by its rapid tempo, its fantasyimprovisation style and the modulatory freedom at its peak. The ‘link’ motif
permutations every few bars are an ingenious ploy providing colour and character, and
creating a kaleidoscope of effortless, inventive variations which are quintessentially
romantic in their arabesque nature.
Harmonically, the episode has the function of prolonging and firmly establishing
the second key area of Eb major, since it begins and ends in that key like the second
subject itself. The harmonies of the second subject, marked in Example 5.11, can be
compared with the episode’s opening bars. Bars 44-48 of the episode recognisably retain
the second subject harmony, notably the move to ii, spread over four bars instead of two.
From bar 49’s last top note Gb, chromatic embroideries of the second subject, inverted in
bar 52, are alternated with bars containing the ‘link’ motif. In this sense, the whole
section up to the codetta resembles Dahlhaus’s description of successive variation
principle in Schubert’s Quartet D887 as “a commentary ‘meandering’ about the theme,
illuminating it from different sides” (1996, p. 2):
Example 5. 14. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, first movement, bars 44-51.
From the chromatic descent beginning at the end of bar 49, harmonic stability is
progressively lessened. In bar 56, Gb (=F#) becomes the common tone for a modulation
to B major, the enharmonic flattened submediant of Eb. In bar 60, D# (=Eb) performs the
same function for a common-tone transition back to Eb major:
Example 5. 15. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, first movement, bars 56-62.
Another chromatic ascent from the end of bar 65 leads to the peak moment of the
exposition in bar 67 (see Example 5.10 notes). The episode’s rising trajectory of feeling
and speed gives an arched shape to the exposition before it falls naturally into the closing
theme of the Tranquillo codetta section. The codetta has the slowest pace in tempo,
rhythm and harmony until the Andante of bar 212 is reached near the end of the
movement. Bars 67 and 68 juxtapose the ‘link’ and ‘codetta’ motifs in a smooth merging
into the 16-bar codetta which is built around these two elements, except for bars 75-78
which are a minimally altered restatement of bars 23-26.
Although accents are employed sparingly in Wieck-Schumann’s works, the
‘codetta’ motif is accented in some bars of both the first and third movements of the
Sonata (see bar 72 below):
Example 5. 16. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, first movement, bars 68-74.
Perhaps somewhat over-compensating for the forward propulsion preceding it, the
‘codetta’ theme has a static quality which enables the first subject’s return after the
double-bar repeat to be perceived with a renewed sense of drama. A transition after the
double bar prepares for the development to be fully underway in bar 90. It is one of
several transitions which are based on a significant motif of the Sonata, the falling
seconds of the first theme bars 4-6. The first link, of lively slurred quavers in bars 42-43,
ushers in the episode. A second link in bars 87-89 reverts to more measured crotchets for
its grander task of ushering in the development section:
Example 5. 17. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, first mvt, bars 42-44, 87-90, 165-167.
Bars 165-167 preceding the episode in the recapitulation are altered to the form which will
be quoted in the Rondo bars 96-98:
The development is introduced by a rapid move away from Eb major to C minor
over bars 83-88. A long melodic descent covering nearly two octaves leads to bar 90
where the development’s characteristic triplet quaver figurations begin. After the fast
episode in the exposition, the problem of maintaining momentum and drama is addressed
by retaining the swirling triplet quavers through much of the development to give the
illusion of an increase in tempo. Like the episode in the exposition, the development has
elements resembling fantasy-improvisation style.
The ‘inner voice’ emerges strongly because the exposition’s themes are
interwoven across the staves so that they have to be read literally between the lines to be
identified. The three main themes are reduced to their essential motifs, heard mostly in
tenor and alto parts. The review of the exposition’s themes begins with the three repeated
notes of the ‘codetta’ closing theme in bars 90-95. Next, the rhythm and approximate
contour of the first three notes of the first theme are heard in bars 98-101, followed by the
staccato part of the second subject in bars 104-108. Finally, the abbreviated first theme’s
three-note contour ends the section and leads logically into the recapitulation.
Recalling the ‘codetta’ motif’s first three notes is a two-note anacrusis motif with
a third note of the same pitch over the bar line. Nauhaus described it as a reminiscence of
Wieck-Schumann’s Er ist gekommen op. 12/2 (1991, p. 7). However, it sounds more akin
to the ‘codetta’ theme, because, like the similar left hand opening of the Scherzo op. 14,
the Sonata has only a two-note descent (b6-5) instead of the rise and fall of the ‘Erlkönig’
5-b6-5 motif in the song (see Appendix 4):
Example 5. 18. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, first movement, bars 90-93.
Much of the development’s pianistic writing is based on a type of the so-called
‘three-hand effect.’ Its function is to maintain the turbulence established in bar 90 and to
create the new environment of an inner register in which to set the main themes, thus
ensuring that they sound ‘developed’ and transformed into new guises. The section from
bars 98-103 re-introduces the rhythm and the approximate contour of the main theme as a
third voice between dense bass chords and sweeping right hand arpeggios:
Example 5. 19. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, first movement, bars 98-99.
Wieck-Schumann had employed forms of the three-hand effect in her virtuoso
works, the Concerto op. 7 and Concert Variations op. 8. In the Sonata, the three-hand
effect may owe its re-appearance to the performances she had given with Liszt in
December 1841 of his piano-duo arrangement of the collaborative composition
Hexameron (Schumann & Schumann, 1993, pp. 120, 123). His arrangement utilises
variations contributed by himself, Thalberg and Herz (1837).1 An excerpt illustrates
Thalberg’s straightforward three-hand style where the thumb plays the theme in the alto
voice of his variation from bar 9:
Example 5. 20. Thalberg, Hexameron, Variation 1, bars 10-11.
In the development of Wieck-Schumann’s Sonata, part of the second subject is
recalled next in bars 104-108. It appears in the form of the second of its two ‘Clara’
theme falls of bars 27-28 where the suspension note is omitted and the touch is marked
staccato. The second subject rhythm continues with altered intervals until bar 112:
Although the three-hand effect appears in Herz’s variation, his influence can be discounted since WieckSchumann had ceased playing his compositions in 1837 and expressed her dislike for them in 1839
(Schumann & Schumann, 1996, p. 254).
Example 5. 21. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, first movement, bars 104-108.
Over a dominant preparation pedal bass near the end of the development, the first
theme’s rhythm from bar 115 and then its exact first three notes in bar 118 lead towards
the recapitulation. From bar 119 a long chromatic descent begins which maintains the
‘three-hand’ effect between the staves. Two bars of the descent falling from C-G over
bars 119-122 are illustrated within Example 5.22, and the following two bars continue to
fall to D in preparation for the recapitulation:
Example 5. 22. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, first movement, bars 115-120.
Recapitulation and Coda
Although the recapitulation begins conventionally in bar 123 as a repetition of the
exposition, there are later alterations. Some changes in the piano figuration give the
impression that they result from sensitivity to what sounds best in different keys and
registers of the piano. Other changes are clearly designed to differentiate the
recapitulation from the exposition. One is the addition of accents to most of the melody
notes in bars 132-135:
Example 5. 23. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, first movement, bars 132-135.
A new phrase is inserted in bars 141-142 to begin the harmonic process of
returning the second subject in the tonic major G at bar 150, in place of the Eb major of
the exposition. The fantasy-episode returns similarly in G major at bar 167. The link from
bars 159-167 into the episode is completely rewritten from its appearance in the
exposition bars 35-43. Within it are bars 163-167, later quoted in the Rondo but still
clearly derived from the exposition bars 40-44.
To avoid the slow rhythmic pulse of the exposition’s codetta, the end of the
recapitulation’s episode is redesigned to have only two bars of crotchets before it segues
into the Animato coda. The crotchet ‘codetta’ theme is postponed (compare bar 70) until
the four bars of Andante near the movement’s end (bars 212-215). Placed there, the
‘codetta’ theme’s stability leads naturally to the first movement’s ending and to the slow
movement’s beginning which is based on its repeated notes and rhythm.
Wieck-Schumann built the coda on similar principles to the development. Both
sections fulfil in various ways the stormy mood promised by the first theme’s rising
outburst. In the development, fragmented thematic cells are surrounded by the newlyintroduced faster basic pulse of surging triplets. In the coda, not only is there a tempo
change to Animato but the section opens with a two-bar melody from the development
changed by rhythmic diminution to double its original speed. Taken from a transition into
the development’s winding-down section, the two bars, now compressed into one, begin
the coda in bar 193. Immediate repetition creates a restless alternation of dominant and
tonic chords and of lower and higher positions on the keyboard:
Example 5. 24. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, first movement, bars 112-114, 193-194.
The coda moves successively through eight bars of rapid cadencing, three bars of
a chromatic rise in bars 201-3, three of ff climax and four of dénouement. Finally, there
are four bars of ‘codetta’ closing theme marked Andante, extended by another four bars a
tempo to end the movement. From bar 208, two interrupted chromatic descents marked
poco ritenuto gradually disperse energy before the Andante. Differences in register are
exploited to highlight the climax by using the lower register to begin the coda and the
highest at the climax in bars 205-206 before a drop into Andante back to the register at
which the coda began.
There is no overt restatement of either the first or second themes in the coda.
However, the three opening notes are used cadentially to end bars 196 and 200, and the
second subject’s shape may be found inverted as a tenor voice in bars 208-209. The
coda’s function is to re-establish G minor and the dramatic character rather than the first
theme itself. Only the ‘codetta’ theme appears clearly, but its re-positioning at the end of
an agitated coda endows it with a lament-like character it did not possess in the
The double octave arpeggios of bars 204-207 introduce a new keyboard
figuration. They are vaguely reminiscent of the athletic octaves in Schumann’s op. 22
first and third movements, perhaps because double octaves are uncommon in WieckSchumann’s writing apart from her Concertos and virtuosic concert works (Variation 5 of
op. 20 is an exception). When double octaves occur later in the Rondo, they are
sometimes stemmed most unusually as two separate voices, for example in parts of bars
88-91 and 95-98.
Overall tension and repose in the first movement fit a loose pattern of three arches
created by pulse and tempo alterations, with the episodes, development and coda as the
fastest sections. Until its final twelve bars, the coda carries the greatest tension because of
its rapid cadence juxtapositions, breathless off-beat rhythm in bars 201-203 (Example
3.79d) and syncopated leaps up to double octave cascades at the climax:
Example 5. 25. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, first movement tempo plan.
quavers. Episode: faster
tempo, and continuous
constantly from bar
90 to recapitulation
except for parts of
bars 104, 107, 109.
Recapitulation and coda
The episode’s energy hardly eases
during the two bars of ritardando at
end of the recapitulation before the
Animato coda begins and continues
building to a climax. From bar 208, a
poco ritenuto leads into an Andante
formed of crotchets and minims only.
The final four bars are a tempo.
The following formal plan of the second movement reveals its significantly reduced and
Example 5. 26. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, second movement, form.
First theme. A variant of the first four bars is
re-harmonised as Eb minor in bars 5-8.
The dotted rhythm is a feature shared with the Sonata’s
opening theme in the first movement. The section ends
with the Schlummerlied quotation in bars 12-13.
modulating The link uses the same ‘codetta’ motif rhythm as the
The B section consists of two phrases, both with
melodies using repeated-note rhythms from the first
theme. In bars 18 and 20, the ‘link’ motif from the first
movement alternates with bars of melodies with
modulating A chromatic descent in the inner voices is part of the
transition into the reprise at A2.
The section is shortened to a 4 bar phrase formed by
amalgamating and altering the first 8 bars.
The original 4 bars of the section are compressed into 3
bars for heightened intensity.
Over an Eb pedal bass, the dotted rhythm of bar 8 is
recalled and finally augmented in bars 37-38 for a
Like Beethoven’s short 28-bar Adagio molto which replaced the long Andante
favori in his ‘Waldstein’ Sonata op. 53, Wieck-Schumann’s Adagio is deeply felt
throughout its 38 bars. Its brevity may have been inspired by Beethoven’s, as she
programmed the ‘Waldstein’ in a public concert in 1842 (De Vries, 1996, p. 362) and
presumably had been practicing it for some time beforehand. When she added a slow
movement and Rondo to her Sonatine in early 1842, the original second movement
Scherzo was moved to the position of third movement. One reason for positioning the
slow movement straight after the first was the evident desire to make clear the thematic
connection between the two. The three repeated notes of the ‘codetta’ motif, last heard in
bars 212-217 at the end of the first movement, are transformed into the second movement
A comparison of the first movement codetta bars 80-81 and the second movement
theme makes clear that the relationship is mainly in the repeated notes, since the ‘codetta’
theme in the first movement may finish with a rise of a third, fourth or fifth, or even stay
on the same note as in bars 36-37. In the first movement bars illustrated below, the
interval of a rising fourth matches the second movement opening:
Example 5. 27. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, 1st mvt, bars 80-82; 2nd mvt, bars 1-4.
More importantly for its interpretation, the slow movement theme’s two-bar rise
and fall over Bb-Eb-Bb extends it into the rising fourth motif-theme (see Type 2, Example
3.27) which is then repeated up an octave in a decorated form. The movement’s character
is revealed by the shape of the theme. An intimate closed circle of notes, Bb-Eb-D-C-Bb,
is followed by a one-and-a-half octave rise to the top note Eb to suggest the expansive
feeling of love conveyed by the rising fourth motif in its song appearances.
Bar 5 varies the opening melody with a highly-inflected re-harmonisation in Eb
minor, accompanied by thickened, low-register chords. Its concept and realisation is more
complex than a simple repeat in the minor after the fashion of Beethoven’s song
Freudvoll und Leidvoll or Schubert’s Lachen und Weinen. A dramatic French sixth marks
the phrase peak in bar 7.
Part of the beauty of the second movement stems from its long lines, spun out by
avoiding the root position tonic chord of Eb except as a passing quaver. A cadential Eb
bass note occurs only at the end of the first section in bar 13.
The opening theme’s three-note upbeat rhythm is shared by the modulating fourbar link into the Bb middle section, by the middle section theme itself, and by a chromatic
descent link from bar 24 into the reprise section:
Example 5. 28. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, second movement, bars 17-20.
The reprise from bar 27 is shortened to just four bars of the first theme and a
three-bar link into the coda. Like a brief happy reminiscence, it excludes any hint of the
minor key which had darkened bars 5-8, although the sense of profundity is retained by
the deep register of the chordal accompaniment. Its brevity is due to the first two phrases
being merged into one by means of replacing the original bar 3 with bar 7’s figuration.
The French sixth from bar 7 is omitted and recast as a less dramatic secondary dominant
seventh with a suspended Bb in bar 30. The linking bars 32-34 move immediately into a
stringendo climax of three rising tiers, with the dotted rhythm of bars 8-11 compressed
into a rhythmic diminution in bar 33. Recalling the harmonic structure of bars 10-12 where diminished seventh chords, set up as if to modulate to G minor, are diverted
instead to an Ab major chord back into Eb - the link bars 32-33 similarly have diminished
seventh chords which pass through an Ab chord in bar 33 before settling back into Eb for
Over the coda’s Eb pedal bass, the dotted rhythm of bar 8 is recalled and finally
augmented in the penultimate bar to create a written-out ritardando. A repeated harmony
incorporating the b6 note Cb lends finality. Its inclusion may be designed to reflect the
same diminished seventh chord over a pedal Eb found in the fourth last bar of
Schumann’s Schlummerlied. The quotation from Schlummerlied at the end of section A1,
omitted from the reprise, is discussed next in some detail as preparation for the following
chapter on quotation.
Schlummerlied quotation and song allusions
Music is an art of time since it occupies a time-length, yet seldom can it refer to a
specific date and event-in-time such as Wieck-Schumann achieved by quoting from
Schumann’s Schlummerlied just a few weeks after it was written at Christmas 1841. The
small piano piece Schlummerlied op. 124/16, “composed on Christmas afternoon” for
Clara and baby Marie (Schumann & Schumann, 1993, p. 124), commemorated the
significant occasion of the Schumanns’ first Christmas as parents. Undoubtedly, WieckSchumann’s quotation from it was intentional (Nauhaus, 1991, p. 7). The value WieckSchumann placed on Schlummerlied - surely a case of value by association – is
demonstrated by the fact that it became one of her most frequently performed concert
pieces (De Vries, 1996, p. 372).
Because the Sonata’s slow movement is musically weightier than Schumann’s
charming but simple piece with its straightforward harmonies and repeated rocking
rhythms, the material quoted from it gains a more potent force in its new setting.
Consistent with the mood of the original’s title of Slumber Song, Wieck-Schumann
turned the quotation’s harmony away from the chromatic G minor bars preceding it
towards the calmer tonic key of Eb by its end. Although Schumann’s harmony is altered,
the quotation retains the same melodic pitches and rhythm as the original. The adagio
tempo means that the semiquavers are actually a little slower than the original’s quaver
Example 5. 29. Schumann, Schlummerlied, bars 1-5; Wieck-Schumann, 2nd mvt, bars 12-13.
By altering the scale degree on which bar 3 begins, or altering the phrase’s final
intervals to end on the tonic, Schumann was able to re-cast his phrase in bar 3 as part of
several closing phrases, including the sixth last bar, in Schlummerlied. Such a structural
use of the phrase served as a model for Wieck-Schumann in the Sonata, where the
quotation forms the conclusion, like a closing theme, of section A.
At the behest of her daughters in the last year of her life, Wieck-Schumann wrote
out some examples of typical improvised preludes of the kind she had always used in
concerts to introduce specific works (Reich, 2001, p. 235). One was a prelude to
Schlummerlied. As such a simple work does not need a prelude, its function - beyond
setting a quiet and dreamy mood - must have been to draw attention to a work which
might otherwise have been passed over; somewhat analogous to the way a fine ring
setting could display a small gem to advantage.
In her introductory Prelude, Wieck-Schumann began by quoting only the melody
of the first six bars of Schlummerlied. Its opening four-note ‘Kinderszenen’ motif is very
suitable for a lullaby, and Schumann had used it for that purpose in Kinderszenen op.
15/12. Bars 3-4 of her Prelude to Schlummerlied contain the motif quoted in the Sonata,
transposed in bars 8 and 17. The right hand of bar 8 is the same as that in sixth last bar of
Example 5. 30. Wieck-Schumann, Prelude to Schumann’s Schlummerlied, bars 1-8.
The fact that the Sonata was the first piano work written after Wieck-Schumann
had returned to Lieder writing one year earlier may have a bearing on the style and
content of the slow movement. Although its melodies have a wider melodic range of two
octaves compared to her maximum range in Lieder of a thirteenth, the slow movement is
enhanced by several song allusions in addition to the quotation from Schlummerlied. By
alluding to Schumann’s Frauenliebe und Leben op. 42 (1840), Wieck-Schumann may
have intended to imply text in honour of her husband. The melodic shape and the concept
of the first phrase peak in the slow movement is remarkably close to Schumann’s Seit ich
ihn gesehen op. 42/1 bars 7-9 with the words, “As in a waking dream his image hovers
Example 5. 31. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, 2nd mvt, bars 2-4; Schumann, op. 42/1, bars 7-9.
The melody and bass of bars 6-8 of the slow movement, and especially their
return in bars 29-31 with simpler harmony but without the bass octaves, are reminiscent
of Schumann’s Er der herrlichste von Allen op. 42/2 bar 8 in the same key. The key of Eb
is also that of Du Ring an meinem Finger op. 42/4 which remained one of WieckSchumann’s favourite songs to the end of her life (Litzmann, 1979, Vol. 2, p. 435). The
line of poetry extols the future husband’s “clear mind and firm spirit:”
Example 5. 32. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, 2nd mvt, bars 6-8, 29-31; Schumann, op. 42/2, bars 7-9.
Such allusions would have been appropriate, following the wedding of the
previous year, 1840, and Marie’s birth a few months before the sonata was written. There
was the precedent of Wieck-Schumann’s song Die gute Nacht, written six months before
the Sonata for Robert’s birthday (see Chapter 6), alluding to Schumann’s song op. 42/7
about a mother’s joy in her new baby.
By means of the Schlummerlied quotation and allusions to Frauenliebe songs, the
listener is brought into a much closer personal relationship with the music, as if he or she
too were a participant in the family Christmas celebration which they commemorate.
In Nauhaus’s description of Wieck-Schumann’s Sonata, “The most fetching
movement is undoubtedly the Scherzo: its melodic inventiveness, sprightly mood –
contrasting with the elegiac tone of the E-minor Trio – and compellingly symmetrical
formal design are irresistible” (1991, p. 7).
The Scherzo is a ternary form overall with internal rounded binary forms. Bars 112 and 13-40 are enclosed by repeat signs which are omitted in A2. Both the Ab and Bd
digressions incorporate a dominant preparation. The Bd section ends with the iambic
rhythm with which section a1 ends:
Example 5. 33. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, Scherzo, form.
Variant of c1
Inverted variant of c1
Chromatic descent to ║
║ No repeat
Several themes in the Scherzo are given asymmetrical phrasing to counterbalance
the general symmetry; for example the five-plus-three bar phrasing over bars 57-64
(standardised to four-plus-four bars in the op. 15/4 version). The main theme itself is
structured in five-plus-seven bars, perhaps in order to insert in bar 8 the first of several
reminiscences of the ‘codetta’ motif’s repeated notes. Staccato throughout, except for the
opening minim note D, the first theme is a reminder of the scherzando staccato character
of part of the first movement’s second subject:
Example 5. 34. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, Scherzo, bars 1-12.
A number of the Sonata’s unifying motifs reappear in the Scherzo besides the
‘codetta’ motif. The Scherzo opens with a quotation from one of the first movement’s
second subject area themes (bars 30-31) with which it shares the following features: a
melody which rises a fourth by step before falling a sixth in its second bar, the same time
values, and three-part writing with descending lower voices moving in parallel thirds. It
was pointed out earlier in the discussion of Example 3.52 that the first five melody notes
are a retrograde of the ‘Kinderszenen’ motif whose incorporation may be intended to
follow up the Schlummerlied quotation with a second reference to baby Marie:
Example 5. 35. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, 1st mvt, bars 30-31; Scherzo, bars 1-2.
Another unifying motif is the contour of the rising fourth, from the opening of the
second movement, which appears in a decorated re-statement of the Trio theme:
Example 5. 36. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, 2nd mvt, bars 1-2; Scherzo, bars 45-46.
An additional recurring motif is the descending second motif prominent in the
first and last movement’s opening themes. Mostly in slurred pairs, it is a feature of the
Trio in bars 49-52, 53-55, 69-72 and 73-75. It is treated in the same way as most of the
Scherzo themes with three-part writing and a descending double thirds bass. The melody
is a decorated ‘Clara’ theme:
Example 5. 37. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, Scherzo, bars 48-52.
An adjustment of the double thirds accompaniment in bars 73-75 yields a
chromatic descent, mostly over a pedal bass, into c2 to end the B section.
The Trio section themes can be regarded as variants of one idea. Bar 57 is an
approximate mirror of the Trio’s first theme from bar 41. In both, accents mark the three
repeated notes of the ‘codetta’ motif.
Example 5. 38. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, Scherzo, bars 41-44, 57-60.
It is clear that these accents intentionally highlight the motific connections
specific to the Sonata. They do not appear in the op. 15/4 version of the Scherzo where
they would be enigmatic and uncharacteristic without reference to the ‘codetta’ motif in
the preceding two movements. The autograph version of the following bars of the
Scherzo, illustrated in the textual commentary by Nauhaus (1991, p. 36), makes the
‘codetta’ motif reference still clearer by showing its originally-planned emphasis through
octave doublings which were later crossed out:
Example 5. 39. Wieck-Schumann, Scherzo autograph, bars 96-102 (1991, p. 36).
The details linking the Scherzo thematically to the other movements are important
because of the Scherzo’s changes of style. These include greater diatonicism as well as a
thinner keyboard texture which would enable most of it to be played by a string trio. The
changes are part of a scherzo’s function in a sonata: it provides “the strong contrast of its
neat, highly articulated sections to the more involved, continuously extended patterns of
the other movements” (LaRue, 1970, p. 217). Musically direct, in the way of a Schubert
or Beethoven scherzo, Wieck-Schumann’s Scherzo alternates equally delicate charm and
melancholy. Its playful qualities include the poco a poco ritenuto over the last two lines
followed by an unexpected rapid final cadence marked Schnell, suggesting an operatic
character exiting the stage in laughter. An effect Wieck-Schumann repeated in a number
of compositions, here it is most like the ending of the Romance op. 21/2.
Wieck-Schumann may have published the Scherzo as a separate piece in op. 15
with the thought of a three-movement performance of her Sonata, along the lines of
Schumann’s suggestion to perform his G minor Sonata with its Scherzo omitted
(Schumann & Schumann, 1996, p. 495). Its inclusion in her Sonata is an excursion, the
inclusion of which makes it a more interestingly episodic work.
The Scherzo remained popular for many years, and was played frequently in
concerts with great success by Marie Wieck, who wrote that she was constantly asked to
repeat it (Nauhaus, 1991, p. 8). Contemporary audiences, in the writer’s experience, are
also very much struck by the Scherzo on first hearing the Sonata.
In writing her fourth movement, Wieck-Schumann may have recalled
Schumann’s 1838 criticism of the conventional last movement rondo: “I know that even
the best masters close similarly, I mean by way of a merry rondo. However, if I had
composed a powerful and serious work, I would wish also to end it that way” (present
author’s translation; cited without translation in Newcomb, 1987, p. 171, note 32). Her
Rondo fits Schumann’s concept by possessing a weightiness and serious musical
development worthy of, and therefore balancing, the Sonata as a whole. It has a richly
chromatic harmony, with pedals and implied pedals, appoggiaturas and suspensions.
Secondary chords and discords of tritones, minor ninths and diminished sevenths are
Kimber’s criticism of Wieck-Schumann’s Rondo recalls the poor early reception
of Bach’s A minor Fugue Book 1. The Fugue shares with the Rondo an anapest rhythmic
cell for its main idea and also develops an insistent character, as the Rondo does through
the cumulative effect of its returning theme. Both Forkel and Spitta considered the Bach
‘pedantic and lacking in imagination.’ But, as subsequent scholars and performers have
revealed, the unrelenting anapest rhythm is what the affect of the piece is all about. It is
the formidable force in defining the character of the Fugue.
To be sure it is a long and difficult Fugue and demands considerable ingenuity and skill
to shape the architecture, plan dynamic contrasts, and develop and sustain emotional
tension through to the powerful finale (Engels, 2006, p. 160-1).
Engels’s description of the requirements for interpreting and performing the
Fugue apply equally well to Wieck-Schumann’s Rondo, although the musical style is
much more varied than that of a fugue. It can be added that both the Fugue and the Rondo
are extremely satisfying works to perform. It may not be coincidental that in April of the
same year 1841 that the Sonata was begun, Schumann had noted that Wieck-Schumann
played “the great Fugue in A Minor of Bach from memory in such a way that I was
amazed” (Schumann & Schumann, 1993, p. 75).
Far from being treated formulaically, the rondo form serves a particular purpose
for the final movement of the Sonata. Its sections are varied and shortened at each
appearance to give an increasing tautness and build-up to the whole movement leading to
its brief and headlong coda. In this way, theme repetition creates a spiral shape as the
Rondo progresses and the themes become progressively closer in a foreshortening effect:
B1 …..56 bars
B2 …..44 bars
Coda … 16 bars
The overall form is a rondo ABABA with a brief coda, also known as a twoepisode rondo or an expanded ternary form. Nauhaus considered the movement a sonatarondo (1991, p. 7). However, besides the lack of a central C section, there is no
‘recapitulation’ in the tonic of the second B section, which instead returns in the
dominant in place of the first B section’s submediant key. Replacing a central C section
are developmental episodes within both the A and B sections. This recalls the treatment
of the Concerto op. 7’s last movement, which Chissell classified as “an extended sonatarondo, with well-sustained development of its first and second subjects in lieu of the
easier alternative of a new central episode” (1983, p. 38).
The Rondo is a mosaic of small, closely-related units. In order to track and
describe alterations or omissions as the form evolves across the five major sections plus
coda, some eight-bar subsections or short links have been labelled separately in lower
Example 5. 40. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, Rondo, form, schematic overview.
Example 5. 41. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, Rondo, A1 section.
Rounded binary form: each Aa is a self-contained, equal-sized 8bar period ending with a perfect authentic cadence. The Bd and Be
sections develop A’s material, and close with imperfect cadences.
The movement opens with a soaring three-tiered theme which has a
falling-second ‘sigh’ motif after each upward leap.
A variant of Aa with a chromatically falling melody. The same
harmonies from bars 1-2 are repeated, but compressed into one bar.
A codetta outlines a decorated repeated-note closing motif based on
the opening theme’s ‘sigh’ notes Eb-D and Ab-G. Repeated V-I
cadential figures close the section.
A sectional variant of the main theme. Like Aa, it is made up of two
parallel phrases derived from the A theme without its downward
The dominant preparation for the first theme’s return is a threetiered variant of the first theme in a retrograde shape in bars 35-36,
repeated in 37-38 (see Example 5.47).
First theme. Its variant section Ab1 is omitted.
The codetta section is one bar shorter than Ac1, but a bar’s silence
is added in bar 54.
The aural impression of the Rondo is one of thematic variety, but it is a variety
based on ideas derived from the rest of the Sonata. These include a three-tier rise first
theme, the concept of a fantasy-episode in sections Bg1 and Bg2 and two quotations of
four bars from the first movement. Wieck-Schumann’s transformative skills ensure that
the effect is quite different to the first movement, despite the recurrences of some of its
melodic shapes and strategies. Nauhaus noted the effectiveness of the “virtuoso final
movement, which bears undisguised thematic references to the Allegro [first movement]”
(1991, p. 7).1
Derivations from the first movement’s first theme are shown as they develop in
the Rondo A sections and the coda:
The Rondo’s first theme also shares gestures with the theme of Mozart’s G minor Symphony No. 40 such
as the repeated minor seconds ‘sighs’ and upward sixth leaps. Wieck-Schumann had written
enthusiastically of the Symphony in December, 1838 (Schumann & Schumann, 1994, p. 336).
Example 5. 42. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, first mvt. and Rondo theme derivations.
Short rhythmic bursts of the theme’s rapid double upbeat rhythm give the first
paragraph a strong forward impulse. Wide intervals establish a mood of disquiet,
especially at the phrase peak in bar 3 where the last upward leap of a diminished fifth
forms a minor ninth with the bass.
Example 5. 43. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, Rondo, bars 1-4.
The opening piano intervals of the revised version of Wieck-Schumann’s song Sie
liebten sich beide op. 13/2 are self-quoted from the Rondo (Nauhaus, 1991, p. 7). The
musical similarity is one of the reasons mentioned earlier for concluding that WieckSchumann had decided not to publish her Sonata:
Example 5. 44. Wieck-Schumann, Sie liebten sich beide op. 13/2.
Although there is no likelihood that Chopin ever saw Wieck-Schumann’s Sonata,
he used a similar chromatic idea to the Rondo bars 8-10 for the opening of his last
Mazurka, written about seven years later in 1849. The parallels, including the melody of
minor seconds and upward sixths and the similar harmonic progressions, show a measure
of style convergence between the two composers. The repeat of bar 1’s chromatic II
chord harmonisation again promises a brief lifting of the spirits in bar 9, denied by the
Example 5. 45. Chopin, Mazurka op. 68/4, bars 1-4.
Example 5. 46. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, Rondo, bars 8-10.
The dominant preparation link in bars 35-39 is a reversed descending shape of the
ascending first theme which appears immediately afterwards in bar 39. This can be
compared with the similar strategy in the first movement where bar 7 has the features of
the first six bars in a retrograde order (Example 5.9).
Example 5. 47. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, Rondo, comparison of bars 1-2 and 35-37.
Example 5. 48. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, Rondo, B1 section.
The ‘Rondo’ motif, G-Ab-C-Bb, is followed in bars 56 by the first
movement’s ‘Clara’ theme second subject with its same harmony.
An authentic cadence closes bar 62.
A short link.
A subsection inverts bar 56 and develops it. There is a perfect
Episode. The first idea is a closed two-bar theme beginning and
ending in Eb like the first movement second subject; the second idea
is the quotation in bars 94-98 of the first movement’s bars 163-167.
Link: a codetta-sounding version of bar 76 appears over Eb pedal
points in bars 98-103, then over D pedals as a dominant preparation
for the next section A2.
The codetta is the same as subsection Be1, bars 35-39, in section
After the ritornello-like return of the Aa theme and a full bar’s silence, the first
contrasting B1 section begins at bar 55. In the submediant key of Eb, it introduces the
contour which was labelled the ‘Rondo’ motif in Example 3.39. Without the upbeat, the
new theme’s rhythm has become dactylic to match the first movement’s opening bar.
Once the change of mood is set, the first theme’s two-note upbeat is brought back in bars
62-66 and 85-90. Section Bf1 continues with another importation, that of the second
subject from the first movement. Its ‘Clara’ theme is integrated by means of an upward
sixth leap - a major sixth version of the leap opening the Rondo:
Example 5. 49. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, 1st mvt, bars 26-27; Rondo, bars 55-57.
The new key and motif bring a contrasting mood of confidence after the darker
opening section with its falling sigh motifs. The three repeated notes of the ‘codetta’
motif (Type 4) from the first and second movements appear again from bar 57:
Example 5. 50. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, Rondo, bars 55-58.
Reynolds’s hypothesis that Wieck-Schumann’s Bf1 section theme was quoted in
later songs by Schumann and Brahms is not fully convincing (2003, pp. 96-97). Unlike
Wieck-Schumann’s theme which begins on the third scale degree, the others begin on the
tonic with a whole-tone distance to the second note:
Example 5. 51. Comparison of Wieck-Schumann, Brahms and Schumann themes.
Wieck-Schumann, Piano Sonata, Rondo, bars 55-57.
Brahms, Über die See, op. 69/7, bars
Schumann, Hoch, hoch sind die
Berge, op. 138/8, bars 3-5.
Neither Brahms’s nor Schumann’s song expresses the joyful ‘leap of the spirits’
of Wieck-Schumann’s theme. Brahms’s leap of a sixth is explainable as suggesting the
distance of “far over the sea” of its poem and Schumann’s sixth as painting the word
“mountains”. In the absence of other corroborating points, it seems more reasonable to
assume a use of similar contour shapes rather than quotations of Wieck-Schumann’s
Of the B1 subsections, the most important is a parallel of the first movement’s
enclosed fantasy-episode beginning in bar 76. Although the tempo does not speed up as it
did in the first movement, it shares the same key of Eb and a similar character. Built on a
toccata-like semiquaver pattern, from bar 85 it too recalls the first movement’s ‘codetta’
motif pattern of three repeated notes in rhythmic diminution. The illustrated bars 88-91
below can be compared with the first movement development bars 90-91 having the same
rhythm of a dual upbeat, but in crotchets:
Example 5. 52. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, Rondo, bars 88-91.
Of particular importance in this section is the literal recall in bars 94-98 of the
first movement bars 163-167, with the melody transposed exactly, the same harmony and
even approximately the same speed:
Example 5. 53. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, Rondo, bars 94-98.
Example 5. 54. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, first movement, bars 163-167.
Several chords are used as portals into and out of sections in the Rondo. A French
sixth on Eb is the means of modulating to G minor in bar 80. After further modulations,
the French sixth is repeated in bar 102 as the link back to G minor and the Rondo’s A
theme. Harmonic repetition helps to anchor and give definition to the highly embellished
right hand figuration, a version of the ‘link’ motif:
Example 5. 55. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, Rondo, bars 78-82.
Example 5. 56. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, Rondo, A2 section.
Its variant, as in Ab1, section A1.
The codetta is in the Ac1 form of bars 16-22, not the shortened
form of Ac2.
The same sectional variant of the main theme is repeated from Bd1.
Varied from Bd1 by modulating earlier, the section is extended
from bar 146 with a new dominant preparation on F in bars 146155. The return of the main theme as in section Aa is omitted, and
the music moves straight into section B2 without the bar’s rest
found in the A1 section’s bar 54.
In the B2 section, the episode is considerably altered from its earlier appearance
in bars 76-98. The quotation from the first movement is shifted and now introduces
section Bg2 as a transition section in bars 179-185. This is a reversal of the quotation’s
position near the end of Bg1. The quotation itself has now become an allusion, as some
intervals are altered in order to modulate from Eb major to Bb by sequences:
Example 5. 57. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, Rondo, B2 section.
A varied link leading towards the episode.
The sequence of ideas in these sections is re-ordered. The quotation
from first movement appears now in a modulating variant serving
as a through-composed transition into Bg2.
This section opens as before with the first idea from Bg1. The
quotation is shifted to the previous section to serve as an
introductory link (the same function it had in the first movement).
The middle idea now comes last at bar 194. The link (formerly bars
98-106) is omitted.
The codetta is very shortened; it amalgamates cadential repetitions
of Ac bars 20-21 with cadence bars 35-36 and their right hand
repeated notes C#-D.
Example 5. 58. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, Rondo, A3 section.
The last note of the codetta is the first note of the coda at bar 222.
Example 5. 59. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, Rondo, coda.
Animato. The coda is a sixteen-bar extension rather than a discrete
section. Its first 8 bars have a melodic outline derived from the first
theme. They are followed by 4 bars derived from bars 199-200 of
the codetta variant Bc. A miniature ‘cyclic’ recall is created at the
end by including the initial first movement ‘Sonata’ motif as the top
voice Bb-F#-G in the cadence before the final two G minor chords.
In the brief coda, Wieck-Schumann again compressed the Rondo’s first theme,
retaining its wide-spread strong intervals but not the softer, sighing falling seconds. The
quavers of the first theme are replaced with continuous semiquavers for rhythmic drive.
Harmonic drive is provided by a repeated Neapolitan cadence in the first few bars.
Building a musically integrated coda with an intense urgency but without a
brilliant display was a deliberate strategy. In later years Wieck-Schumann wrote to
Brahms expressing dissatisfaction with the last movement ending of his First Symphony
in the version he had sent her:
from a musical point of view the presto shows a sudden falling away when compared
with the splendid climax which precedes it. The tempo increases, but not the actual
feeling, and the whole thing seems not so much a natural out-come of what has gone
before, as added in order that there may be a brilliant ending (Litzmann, 1979, Vol. 2, p.
As shown in Example 5.42, the coda integrates thematic elements of both the
Sonata’s first and last movements themes in order to provide the “natural out-come” of
which Wieck-Schumann had written to Brahms.
The fourth movement is an impressive display of imaginative fecundity in
devising and handling spontaneous-sounding, but closely related variants on a number of
ideas found throughout the Sonata. Its themes are largely based on permutations or selfquotations of thematic material from the first movement. Together, they give the Sonata a
significant number of inter-relationships.
A summary of relationships throughout the Sonata
In the same year of 1841 that Wieck-Schumann began composing her Sonata,
Schumann reviewed a contrasting conception in Chopin’s Bb minor Sonata: “He calls it a
‘sonata.’ One might regard this as capricious, if not downright presumptuous, for he has
simply tied together four of his most unruly children” (Plantinga, 1976, p. 232). Unlike
Chopin, Wieck-Schumann preferred to integrate motific and cyclic recalls into her
Sonata. As Schumann had written in 1832 of multi-movement works, a composer “no
longer persisted in developing a thematic idea only within one movement; one concealed
this idea in other shapes and modifications in subsequent movements as well” (cited in
Reynolds, 2003, p. 164).
Much of the Sonata’s material is derived from the first movement. An obvious
example is the repeated three-note motif in the first and second movements (Nauhaus,
1991, p. 7), which, as this study has shown, extends to the accented rhythm of the
Scherzo Trio bars 43 and 59 and to the Rondo bars 57-58 and 85-91. Wieck-Schumann’s
sensitivity to contours is demonstrated by the three-staged rises of the principal themes of
all but the third movement. Although in the second movement the tiers are less evident in
the rises to Eb, Ab then Eb within the first three bars, all three movements certainly
describe an upward trajectory of around one and a half octaves in their first ideas.
Another motif appearing in each movement of the Sonata is a group of
descending seconds, often arranged in slurred pairs, deriving from bars 4-6 of the first
movement. In this slurred form, the motif occurs in the Scherzo Trio where the ‘Clara’
theme is presented in this way. The ‘Clara’ theme from the first movement’s second
subject is another theme which is traceable in every movement:
Example 5. 60. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, ‘Clara’ theme relationships.
Each movement has a chromatic descent at a structural point, although it is less
noticeable in the Rondo. The theme of the Rondo section Abl from the end of bar 8
begins essentially as a chromatic descent. There is a lively, almost unbroken melodic
chromatic rise towards the dominant key of Bb in the transition bars 150-155 leading into
While several aspects of the first movement’s first subject are developed within
later themes, its rhythm too has importance as the following Example 5.61 demonstrates.
Bar numbers in each movement allow the rhythmic evolution and changes from the longshort-short pattern of the first subject to be followed in later appearances in each
Example 5. 61. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, rhythmic relationships.
First theme 1, 123;
link 17ff., 37; devpt
36-37, 68. Closing
theme 70-85; link
first theme 6
First theme 3; link
motif 20ff; second
theme 26-29; devpt
193ff, 204, 208
Link 42-43; coda
First theme 2
23, 32, 66
Further relationships between the movements of the Sonata are summarised in the
following paragraphs, beginning with the outer movements. It has been noted that their
episodic sections mirror each other across the work as striking rhapsodic features. The
episode in the first movement is an original and distinctive treatment, transforming the
Sonata stylistically, structurally and in mood. It adds both charm and exuberance as it
wings its way over a wide keyboard range and to distantly colourful keys like B major
(enharmonic bVI in Eb). A similar bright mood is designed for the improvisatory-like
episode in the last movement with its cyclic self-quotations from the first movement.
Part of the thematic development of the first movement’s opening theme is
postponed until the final movement of the Sonata. In the first movement, the opening
melodic fall of a sixth from Bb to D over bars 1-2 sets a pattern, not only for the second
subject’s twin falls of a sixth over bars 26-28, but also for the inversion in the Rondo’s
opening of a rising sixth from D to Bb. A free retrograde of their main themes has been
illustrated in both the first movement bars 7-10 and in the Rondo bars 35-39. The Rondo
partly follows the overall key contrast of the first movement, from tonic G minor to the
submediant Eb major in the first B section.
Recurrent harmonies unify the Sonata, binding especially the first and last
movements. Secondary diminished sevenths, half-diminished and secondary dominant
chords are characteristic, for instance in the second movement bars 32-33 as part of a
sequence. They occur as a harmonic pattern in the first movement in bars 31-32, repeated
several times in subsequent bars:
Example 5. 62. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, first movement, bars 31-34.
The diminished seventh, especially as a pre-dominant cadential chord, permeates
the first movement, in the first subject, second subject and linking sections:
Example 5. 63. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, first movement, diminished 7th functions.
First movement bars 26-27:
First movement bars 165-167:
The Rondo sets up the diminished seventh as a feature in the first four bars and
repeats it many times in the course of the movement, also as a secondary pre-dominant
Example 5. 64. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, Rondo, viio7 as a pre-dominant chord.
The episode opening from bar 76
repeats the harmony of the first
movement second subject in the same
key (see Example 5.11). Bars 78-79:
The same harmonic idea in bars 154-156
leads into section Bf2:
Although connections exist between the first and third movements, their different
styles tend to conceal them. One relationship is found in the left hand of bar 13 which
inverts the Scherzo’s opening four notes. Presumably it is also an intentional reference to
the first movement theme and possibly to Schumann’s G minor Sonata’s opening theme:
Example 5. 65. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, Scherzo, bars 13-14; 1st mvt bars 1-2.
There are intervallic relationships between the second movement and the Rondo’s
B1 theme. Common elements are a rising fourth, rising sixth and leaping seventh
followed by the descent characteristic of the ‘Clara’ theme, deriving from the first
movement’s second subject:
Example 5. 66. Wieck-Schumann, Sonata, 2nd mvt and Rondo thematic relationships.
The handling of quotation and recalls in the second and fourth movements is
characteristic. Although they are very close in harmony as well as melody, WieckSchumann’s fourth movement quotation-recalls are disguised by the naturalness with
which they emerge then blend back into the material surrounding them, as if they were
composed for and belong to the Rondo alone. This is equally true of her handling of the
Schumann Schlummerlied quotation in the second movement which sounds so perfectly
assimilated into its context that it is camouflaged and could go unnoticed but for
biographical clues and the proximity to the date Schlummerlied was written.
Finally, the first, third and fourth movement endings share the element of
surprise. The Scherzo finishes with two a tempo chords marked Schnell after a long
ritenuto – a quick gesture like that of a conjurer ending an act. The first movement
returns to four bars of a tempo after eight slower bars and the Rondo exits the stage in an
intense 16-bar burst of increased speed.
Except for the Scherzo, the Sonata was never prepared or revised for publication
by Wieck-Schumann. Accordingly, it requires some editing by the performer. There are
few dynamic markings overall, and there are a number of dissimilarities in phrasing and
altered notes in parallel passages in the first and last movements. This could be explained
partly by the impressively rapid composition rate, with each pair of movements
completed in around seven to fourteen days (Nauhaus, 1991, p. 6). It is still more
impressive given the high standard of detailed motific interrelationship within and
between movements, and in view of the composer’s performances and other
commitments at the same time. On the other hand, a rapid completion of a composition
was not unusual for Wieck-Schumann and some discrepancies may be intentional
The Breitkopf & Härtel edition of the Sonata differs in several instances from the
very clear autograph held in the Robert Schumann Haus in Zwickau. In the first
movement, the autograph shows a different reading for bar 199 which is printed as a
repetition of bar 195 in the Breitkopf score. The autograph gives the second beat of the
bar as Eb in the right hand – which the editor, Nauhaus, considered a writing slip (Textual
commentary, p. 35) – in place of the printed E natural. However, there is also no # sign in
front of the left hand C bass note. Read as Eb and C, the result is a delightful aural
Neapolitan sixth progression of N6-passing note iv-V to the third beat of the bar. It is
worth considering it as a reading, for it conforms to Wieck-Schumann’s concept of
varying repetitions in a work. Another example of this practice is found in the middle
appearance of the main Rondo theme in bars 123-124, where it is re-written from its first
appearance in an analogous way to the re-arrangement of the first movement’s bar 199.
The autograph gives a different impression of the dynamics in several places. The
most important is found in the first movement in bar 133 where the p is placed under the
lower voice imitation beginning on the second quaver of the bar. This placement suggests
that p applies only to the lower voices, and that the upper voice would remain f from the
indication in bar 132 to at least the middle of bar 136. It makes much better sense of the
accents in the upper voice which are difficult to interpret softly as the Breitkopf edition
directs abruptly from bar 133 onwards. Although it is not marked, presumably the linking
scale of six notes in bar 136 would revert to p in both hands, as in bar 14.
There are a several small differences in the first movement, which may affect a
performer’s intentions; for example the Tranquillo of bar 70 and the pp in bar 193 are
placed right at the start of their respective bars, not part-way into the bar as marked in the
score. Bar 166 in the first movement of the edition has a misprint, omitting the # in front
of the fourth-beat F. F# is clear in the autograph.
The phrasing of the Rondo third bar is incorrect in the edition. In the autograph
the right hand Ab-G is slurred and a new phrase is clearly marked beginning on the Eb
immediately following the G; that is from the third last semiquaver of the bar. This
preserves the slurring of the sigh motif, so important throughout the movement, in each
of the first three bars of the theme.
The placement of notes between the hands has been standardised in the printed
score for ease of reading and differs considerably from the autograph, particularly in the
last movement. Chords are often spread across two staves in the autograph, including
some places where they would be played by one hand. It is in such a situation that a
discrepancy appears in the reading of the notes of bar 199 in the last movement. The
printed score gives two Es instead of Cs in the left hand chords, on analogy with bars
109-110. The second note in the right hand autograph appears as D, not C. Retaining
Wieck-Schumann’s writing of the left hand chords across into upper stave, the autograph
reading is as follows:
Example 5. 67. Wieck-Schumann. Sonata, Rondo, autograph bars 199-200.
Again, restoring the autograph chords of bars 109-110 with their harmonic tension
and discord between the held C and C# would be in keeping with Wieck-Schumann’s
principles. As well, the concept of oscillating semitones is a well-established technique in
her works, especially in transition sections like the Rondo bars 199-200. Cases of
oscillating seconds include the Romance op. 5/3 bars 53-55, the Konzertsatz bars 65-69
and Quatre pièce fugitives op. 15/1 bars 27-31 (see Appendix 4).
Because relationships are so labyrinthine in this Sonata, analytical comment can
be useful before the work is taught or learnt. Analysis is only one aspect of the
appreciation of the Sonata. As with other compositions, particularly of the Romantics, it
comes to life fully only when performed with a sympathetic heart and an informed mind.
As P. Valéry, French poet and philosopher, said: “A work of music, which is only a piece
of writing, is a cheque drawn on the fund of talent of a possible performer” (cited in
Bernac, 1970, p. 1).
Criticisms of the Sonata which could be made by a performer are that the writing
in the first and fourth movements is dense and difficult to handle. On many occasions,
wide hand stretches are called for at fast speeds. Technically these hurdles would be
lessened in the Rondo by following Nauhaus’s advice that it should not be taken too fast
in view of the fact that its first theme appears in the op. 13/2 second version of Sie liebten
sich beide (1991, p. 7). Musically, however, this advice is debateable since the first
version of the song is marked adagio. The relationship between the two works need not
undermine the restless Rondo but can be limited to stressing the shared poignancy of
harmonies and intervals. Importantly, because of the Rondo’s self-quotation recall from
the animato link into the first movement’s episode, a similar lively speed and matching
exuberance will make the recall clear.
To avoid having the Animato coda sound as if added on, the present writer finds
that the Rondo works best taken generally lightly and rather driven in speed, around
crotchet = 88 (sometimes faster, sometimes slower; perhaps 92 to open, and perhaps 84 in
the B1 section in Eb). If the old military dictum about getting over heavy ground as
lightly as possible is followed – for the movement is a thicket of semiquavers – a faster
speed will prevent it sounding ponderous and allow the listener to recall Hanslick’s
admiration for Wieck-Schumann’s dazzling facility in performing delicate fast
movements (Chissell, 1983, p. 142). Such an image applies more to the third than the
fourth movement, but is still helpful for the performer to bear in mind.
As a dense bass texture is used metaphorically to signify depth of feeling in
several songs (for example, Ich stand in dunklen Träumen op. 13/1 bars 15-17), such
passages could be studied in preparing the interpretation of similar places, especially in
the Sonata’s second movement. In the autograph, the second subject of the first
movement is clearly marked staccato only in the second bar. Bar 26 can be played with
an expressive legato typical of a lyrical ‘Clara’ theme in its suspended-note form.
The performer can play an important role in realising the concept of the Rondo as
a cumulative structure by building it up from a soft first theme appearance and
intensifying it by contrasts, from the ardent lyrical expression of the B sections, to the
fast and forceful climax of the Animato coda. As the last movement has dynamic
markings only for the first 23 bars of the total 237, the performer might consider planning
dynamics and musical tension as a series of ascending plateaux with each appearance of
the main theme somewhat louder than the last. The result would be p-mf-f for each A
section in bars 1, 111 and 201 and ff for the coda in bar 222, rather than a zigzag shape of
p-f-p-f for instance. The few dynamics marked in the last movement appear to have been
designed for a Hausmusik setting, as they do not rise above forte.
Due to the Sonata’s long period of obscurity, there is currently a lack of both a
musicological base and a performance tradition to initiate the considered and on-going
processes that a major work undergoes after its release. The first movement in particular
is not readily sight-readable and needs much interpretive shaping. It is regrettable that
Wieck-Schumann left no performance tradition of the Sonata, for Schumann wrote
glowingly of her performances of her op. 6 pieces:
And then, of course, to hear them as she plays them! One hardly knows what has struck
him, or imagines how such a thing can be recorded in symbols and written out. This,
again, is an astonishing art, and it is all hers. Whole books could be heard on the subject.
I say ‘heard’ advisedly… Not everything can be told in the letters of the alphabet (1988,
Good Romantic sonatas, successful when performed in their entirety, are not
numerous. Wieck-Schumann’s is one of them. At around twenty minutes long, her Sonata
is also around the same length as the most succinct and successful in form of Schumann’s
sonatas, his G Minor Sonata op. 22.
Although Wieck-Schumann’s works have not attracted the criticism of “endless
four-measure rhythmic units” levelled at Schumann in his time (Johns, 1997, p. 114), she
wrote nothing as free as the prophetic, improvisatory ‘senza tempo’ in Liszt’s 1833-34
Harmonies and its later section with seven beats in a bar. On the contrary, in 1842, two
months after her Sonata’s completion, she expressed a distaste for a composition in 5/4
time which made her feel she was “spinning around and around” (Schumann &
Schumann, 2002, p. 313). In the Sonata, any potential stolidity is offset in the first
movement by changes of tempi including Allegro, Um vieles schneller, Tranquillo and
Andante, and in the second movement by an animato tempo direction for the central
section. There are some unusual phrase lengths in the first movement, such as six bars for
the first subject and two five-bar divisions in bars 30-44. Five-bar phrasings have also
been illustrated in the Scherzo. Only the fourth movement is uniform in tempo until the
rapid coda and it is more predictable rhythmically in its toccata-like episodes.
Within the Sonata’s often complex, multi-voiced piano writing, motifs are
employed for unity within and across movements, and to maintain a sense of coherent
flow, for instance by means of the ‘link’ motif’s quaver movement. A description of an
arch-romantic work by Chopin, the Polonaise-Fantaisie, could also apply to the Sonata:
“everywhere you look there are suggested repetitions, echoes and anticipations, and the
harder you look the more you find” (Cook, 1998, p. 338). The “fantasy character” of the
Concerto op. 7 (Klassen, 1990, p. 15) was continued effectively within parts of the
Sonata’s first and last movements.
The many devices unifying individual movements and linking the whole Sonata
demonstrate Wieck-Schumann’s mastery of large-scale composition planning. Achieving
a fine balance between interest and unity is a challenge, and this thesis demonstrates that
it is achieved very successfully in the Sonata through outward variety and inner unity. In
particular, analysis shows that Kimber’s description of the Rondo as “formally
hidebound” is unjustified and inadequate.
The Sonata deserves a more prominent place in the repertoire of contemporary
pianists, despite the technical difficulties and interpretive challenges of its outer
movements. It is a personal composition, neither publicly commissioned nor oriented, yet
of value as a statement of the human condition of its time and place. In this regard, for
instance, the Schlummerlied quotation opens a glimpse into the life and interaction of an
unusually gifted musical family in the early 1840s. By virtue of the fact that the Sonata
was written by one of the neglected female half of the population, it has a particular value
in providing a fuller, truer picture of European cultural heritage.
As in many other works of hers, Wieck-Schumann’s Sonata included musical
citations. After a background consideration of the practices of the time, her own practice
in this area is discussed in the following chapter.
Influence and musical quotation
“…the eternal question of who invented what first. Art is not a question of precedence,
but of excellence” (Antheil, 1945, p. 106).
In this chapter, Wieck-Schumann’s techniques involving musical quotation and
allusion are investigated, illustrated and briefly compared to Schumann’s. The discussion
is preceded by a consideration of influence, intentional modelling and the various types
of musical quotation, all of which can impinge on perceptions of a composer’s
originality. A negative view may perceive citation as ‘derivative’ in the pejorative sense
implying lack of invention or plagiarism. A positive view regards citation as a form of
communication conveying meaning, and ‘allusive’ as a compliment, implying knowledge
of the literature and command of all the materials available for a composer’s use. The
main section of the chapter consists of studies of selected Wieck-Schumann’s works
containing musical citations. The chapter closes with quotational tributes made to WieckSchumann and her work in two compositions by Schumann and Brahms.
Klassen noted a tendency in the literature for seeking out Schumann
reminiscences in Wieck-Schumann’s compositions (1990, p. 23). However, in the light of
Wieck-Schumann’s diary disclosure that she made intentional citations of two Schumann
works in her duet March, it is worth extending the search for all forms of citation from
the viewpoint of craft mastery and communicated meaning on the composer’s part. The
section on quotation, in part more speculative because it is hermeneutic and interpretive,
falls within the broad guidelines set by Wieck-Schumann’s documentation in regard to
her March. Her handling of citations reveals the same level of informed careful planning
already illustrated in other facets of the composer’s craft.
In a move to a more open and flexible approach which has yielded new insights,
the 21st century has seen a considerable interest in the “young and growing field of
musical borrowing” (Metzer, 2003, p. 3). Terminology varies: Kamien referred to an
extended quotation in 20th century compositions employed for variety, contrast or
symbolism as “quotation music” (1992, p. 529), whereas Metzer termed it borrowing. For
Burkholder, “borrowing” was interchangeable with “uses of existing music” (1994, p.
For the purposes of this study, borrowing is the term used for the incorporation of
a larger and readily recognisable part of another composition; quotation is a more specific
term used where correspondences, especially of interval, are very close; and allusion or
reminiscence is the term describing a general evoking of, or reference to, another
composition. Citation is an umbrella term for all the above types. All are intentional, have
a purpose, and imply a meaning to be recognised, if only by a select few. All are terms
distinct from modelling, which may be unconscious or be intended to remain
unrecognisable, and from influence, which is generalised and may be unconscious.
It is a truism that a long history of previous ideas and influence can be traced in
any composer’s works, and that all composers build to a greater or lesser degree on the
ideas and styles preceding them. The issue of a composer’s relationship to another’s
works is an unavoidable one, especially in the case of the two Schumanns because of
their close working ties with each other throughout their composing careers and the
network of citations which resulted. The following diagram of influence in musical
compositions shows the spectrum of interconnectedness between the various forms of
Example 6. 1. Flowchart of influence.
1. modelling on
whole or part
Influence on a composer can be negative, not only in the case of too-close
modelling or reminiscence amounting to plagiarism, but in the feeling of inadequacy that
results from the consciousness of previous masterpieces. Brahms wrote to WieckSchumann that “I tread on the heels of my predecessors, whom I feel in my way”
(Litzmann, 1979, Vol. 2, p. 269). While it may be stultifying and lead to loss of
originality, stylistic influence is enriching when it becomes an active process.
The influence of Schubert’s dances is evident in Wieck-Schumann’s dance suites
opp. 2 and 4. Mendelssohn’s scherzando writing can be heard re-created in the
intriguingly conceived chromatic descent in Scène fantastique: Le ballet des revenants
op. 5/4, illustrated in Example 4.31. She was influenced positively by the whole style of
Chopin’s mazurkas in her first Mazurka, op. 6/3. Chopin’s influence on her Impromptu in
E is perceptible only in the 12/8 compound rhythm and exquisite beauty it shares with his
first three Impromptus (the 12/8 in Chopin’s second Impromptu is limited to its reprise).
Schumann’s profound influence was mentioned in Chapter 2, and, being generalised, will
be pointed out specifically only in the case of musical citations.
Schumann noted that inspiration and individuality may emerge only after the
study of models, even in the case of a Shakespeare (Schumann, 1947, p. 51). Modelling
may imply admiration sufficient to lead to emulation, but normally does not convey the
kind of specific communication made possible by a targeted citation. Schumann, WieckSchumann and Brahms all learned part of the craft of composition by the traditional
method of modelling, which is composing new ideas onto an existing piece’s framework,
or a segment of it.
In February 1845, as part of the Schumanns’ study of counterpoint, WieckSchumann wrote three fugues on Bach themes from the 48 Preludes and Fugues Book II
(Reich, 2001, p. 324). Each of her fugues was a true close modelling on Bach’s. Over
approximately the same total number of bars in each Bach model, she followed its pattern
of stretti, position of episodes and the voice which entered with the subject after an
episode. By the third fugue, based on Bach’s G minor in her favourite key, there is the
sense of musical command distancing the model from the satisfying final result. WieckSchumann knew Schumann’s Toccata op. 7 (written 1829-33) based on Czerny’s Toccata
op. 92 (ca. 1826), which both Schumanns had practised under Wieck’s tutelage. Op. 7
provided an example of how to model within the same key using similar double-note
keyboard figurations while exceeding the original work’s artistic stature.
Since no sophisticated art work springs from a vacuum, Korsyn proposed “a
model for mapping influence” in music (1991, p. 3) based on H. Bloom’s work on the
inevitability of literary debt to existing works. In the same way, a composer must react to,
spring-board from, or re-cast past works in order to write at all. Just as Bloom maintained
that “a work becomes original by struggling against other texts” (p. 6), the composer
establishes individuality by alterations to and discontinuities with what already exists in
his or her search for new ways to express some of the same ideas and meanings.
The question is how well and imaginatively any composer transformed features of
prior models. Korsyn gave two examples of this process in works modelled on Chopin’s
Berceuse (1991). The first is a successful appropriation by Brahms in his Romance op.
118/5 which includes direct quotation as well as structural parallels. The second is a less
successful adaptation – because more obvious - by Reger in his Träume am Kamin, op.
143/12. That there is an overlap between influence, modelling, quotation and allusion is
clear from the Brahms example just cited.
Wieck-Schumann’s Scherzo op. 14 provides an example of modelling on
Chopin’s general concept in his Scherzi Nos. 2 and 3 which had been published before
she wrote her op. 14. Chopin’s central sections changed pace from the frenetic constant
movement of the outer sections to a rhythmic pattern of long-held chords interspersed
with bars of faster figuration, especially in his third Scherzo op. 39 (1840). Written after
1841 and accepted for publishing in January 1845, Wieck-Schumann’s Scherzo op. 14 is
a most effective concert piece when performed at a fiery speed, such as the one at which
Mendelssohn reported Clara performed his Capriccio op. 22 for piano and orchestra “like
a little demon” (Litzmann, 1979, Vol. 1, p. 76, note 1).1
Like Chopin’s Scherzi, overall Wieck-Schumann’s Scherzo is built on repeated
figuration patterns with little motific alteration and with fairly slow-moving harmonies.
Although the Chopin third Scherzo has none, cross rhythms are a feature of much of op.
Later on in 1845, Mendelssohn wrote and published his Piano Trio op. 66 in C minor with a scherzo-like
fourth movement using a similar rhythmic modelling on Chopin’s Scherzo central sections (see particularly
bars 128-148). My thanks to Stephen Emmerson for pointing out the Mendelssohn rhythmic pattern.
14, including 28 bars from bar 49 in 2/4 within a 3/4 time signature with an occasional
reversion to divisions of three in the accompaniment.
A degree of modelling occurs in op. 14’s middle section from bar 133, which has
chorale-like block chords, one per bar, as in Chopin’s third Scherzo middle section, at
approximately the same tempo. Although Chopin kept the pattern repeating in four-bar
segments, Wieck-Schumann varied and shortened the second ending in bars 145-146 by a
rhythmic diminution of the contour:
Example 6. 2. Wieck-Schumann, Second Scherzo op. 14, bars 125-147.
Example 6. 3. Chopin, Scherzo op. 39, bars 153—168.
In turn, Chopin may have modelled the concept of his Scherzo’s middle section
on Weber’s Momento capriccioso op. 12 (1808), a work played by the eleven year old
Liszt in his last 1823 concerts in Hungary before he left for study in Paris (Walker, 1983,
p. 88). In 6/4 time, its middle section from bars 99-130 is built on the same alternating
pattern of a fragmentary ‘chorale’ of one chord per bar followed by a faster-note infill:
Example 6. 4. Weber, Momento Capriccioso op. 12, bars 99-106.
Schumann’s song Berg’ und Burgen op. 24/7 (1840) is a far more literal
modelling on the trio of Chopin’s first Scherzo op. 20 (1835) than Wieck-Schumann’s on
Chopin’s third Scherzo. Schumann modelled Chopin’s op. 20 trio, based on a Polish
cradle song, in multiple ways: the general concept of op. 24/7, the structural move to the
dominant at the eighth bar in the vocal part, the rotational piano figuration for the rocking
movement of sailing on the Rhine, the single low bass note on the first beat of every bar,
and a similar melody including some quoted notes, ringed in the following illustrations:
Example 6. 5. Chopin, Scherzo op. 20, bars 305-313.
Example 6. 6. Schumann, Berg’ und Burgen op. 24/7, bars 5-12.
Wieck-Schumann may have intended the Chopin modelling as a tribute to the
composer, as Schumann evidently did when he modelled his Studien op. 56/2 on WieckSchumann’s piano piece op. 15/2. Wieck-Schumann’s allusions are principally to her
contemporaries such as Chopin and Schumann. By contrast, in Schumann’s view of the
other main Leipzig school composer, “Mendelssohn is more than usually dependent upon
older models, in this case the works of Bach, Gluck, Beethoven, and Weber; his work
never seems fully congruent with the expectations of present-day musical culture”
(Finson & Todd, 1984, p. 12).
In the light of the high value placed on originality in the 19th century, it is worth
noting that several contemporaries placed the Schumanns at similar levels of
indebtedness to models and influence. An early reviewer of Wieck-Schumann’s Scherzo
op. 14 acknowledged the distinctness of her style at a time when all the composers
mentioned in the 1845 review were still alive. The reviewer perceived differences which
nearly two centuries have blurred into likenesses for some present writers:
The composer preserves in all of her works that tender, poetic aura that raised her above
the position of a virtuoso…We have noticed her adherence to models, indeed even to
varying them somewhat, while talented men generally stick to a single model and are
drawn into monotony and mannerism. Clara Schumann’s writings nevertheless contain
much of her own characteristic style. She is a long way from copying Chopin,
Mendelssohn, or Robert Schumann. These masters are apparent only in the tone colour
that all of Clara Schumann’s piano pieces preserve (cited in Reich, 2001, pp. 308-309).
A very similar assessment was given of Schumann in 1844:
One cannot fail to note the powerful, lasting impression that the study of classical
models, such as J. S. Bach and Beethoven, made on Schumann; on occasion the listener
can even identify more recent composers, for example, Franz Schubert, Felix
Mendelssohn Bartholdy, or Chopin…not of …slavish imitation but rather of works
created in a similar tone and a related spirit (Kossmaly, 1994, p. 308).
When the level of outside influence and modelling discernible in her
contemporaries’ work is compared with Wieck-Schumann’s, the conclusion is that it was
certainly no larger in her case. Her music is ‘like’ other fine music of her time, which
makes her identifiable as a Romantic composer abreast of the Zeitgeist. In that respect her
compositions show an open-minded receptivity to new influences and styles.
In influence and modelling, the issue is whether the new work has something
interesting to say, distinct from and additional to its model, which it accomplishes with
conviction and expertise. Certainly Schumann as a critic decried plagiarism at times in
inferior works, but otherwise accepted elements of the common language of the time and
place. As he wrote: “Let us be certain that were a genius like Mozart to be born today, he
would write concertos in the manner of Chopin rather than in the manner of Mozart”
(1947, p. 80) – or, he could have added, in the manner of Clara Wieck’s Concerto op. 7
with its contemporary keyboard writing and innovative features.
Resemblance1 and self-quotation
While citation is associated with communication of meaning, this may not be so
with self-quotation. It is certainly not the case with unintentional resemblance, an
excellent instance of which was noted by Schumann.
While living in different cities in the late 1830s during the separation enforced by
Friedrich Wieck, the two composers independently produced what Robert called “a very
similar idea” at around the same time: Clara in the middle section of her Romance op.
11/2 and Robert in his Humoresque op. 20 (Schumann & Schumann, 1996, p. 320). The
Romance was begun in mid-1838 (Reich, 2001, p. 303), and was possibly completed by
November 1838 (Klassen, 1986, p. v), some six months before Robert’s op. 20 was
written in Vienna:
Several possible reminiscences of Chopin and Schubert and an allusion to Beethoven are illustrated in
Example 6. 7. Wieck-Schumann, Romance op. 11/2, bars 51-54; Schumann, Humoreske op. 20, bars
Unlike a quotation, in which the intervals would match exactly, the only “very
similar” elements in the two works are the melodic rhythm and melodic contour. The
character, speed, intervals, harmony, accompaniment rhythm and figuration are quite
different, both in the bars shown and in surrounding sections. For Schumann, WieckSchumann’s Romance proved that “we have to be man and wife. You complement me as
a composer, just as I do you. Each of your ideas comes from my soul” (Schumann &
Schumann, 1996, p. 307). The two works provide exemplars of what the Schumanns
would have considered to be close allusions.
Besides resemblances, a second area not typically associated with intentional
communication is self-quotation which overlaps with recurring elements such as motifs.
The degree of self-quotation, or of language that recurs noticeably in melodic and
harmonic patterns, varies between composers. At one end of the scale, Tarasti suggested
that a composer could repeat situations “such that ultimately, he or she writes one and the
same piece through his/her life…Perhaps the repetition of these situations and their
solutions are in the end what constitutes a composer’s ‘style’” (2002, p. 87).
Wieck-Schumann’s self-quotations of her published works are infrequent,
whereas Schumann self-quoted frequently, at times repeating some large sections of
music recognisably (see two examples in Jensen, 1998, p. 134). When a theme is
invested with a special meaning or context for a composer, it rises often to the surface of
consciousness. Such personal associations evidently account for Wieck-Schumann
repeating particular motifs – which is why many cases of similarity in her work fall into
the category of recurrent motifs-with-meanings rather than quotation. Repetition in
working out an idea over adjacent compositions can be seen in the use of the tetrachord
fall from the tonic to embody aspects of love. It features in works from the early 1840s
including Am Strande, Volkslied, Liebst du um Schönheit op. 12/4 and Oh weh des
Scheidens (Examples 4.54; 4.66).
One of Wieck-Schumann’s brief self-quotations is found in the Romance variée
op. 3 (1831-33). Its Allegro variation quotes the first eight notes from her Caprice op.
2/1’s opening idea. It is a rising scale under an inverted pedal, but with the timing
changed from triple to compound quadruple. As the variation includes imitative writing
like Schumann’s Papillons op. 2/9 bar 9 (1830-31), it may have been a shared idea or an
intentional tribute to Schumann as the dedicatee of the work.
Example 6. 8. Wieck-Schumann, Romance variée op. 3, bars 104-105.
The ‘Clara theme’ is a signature melody which is something more significant than
self-quotation in Wieck-Schumann’s works because it appears at times to have an
autobiographical self-identification (see Ihr Bildnis, Example 3.55). In Chapter 3, it was
established that the ‘Clara’ themes forming her op. 6/1 middle section and op. 6/2
opening are so close in melody and harmony that they are transformations of the same
theme for cyclic purposes. The boundaries of self-quotation, transformation and cyclic
unity have merged in that example.
Introduction to musical citation
Musical citation invites the search for inner meanings. When citation occurs
between composers in a musical and personal relationship like the Schumanns’, the
search for meanings becomes compelling. As two composers developing together and
with an intimate knowledge of each other’s work, they were in a unique position to cite
each other’s work and not only have a citation recognised, but sometimes followed up by
a further mutual exchange.1
Historically, the subject of musical quotation has been mired in questions of
originality and intentionality. Because originality was seen as the defining hallmark of
genius, many writers like D. Cooke in the second half of the 20th century still believed
that neither quotation nor plagiarism existed, and that coincidence was the correct
explanation for musical likenesses between compositions (1962, p. 173-174). Composers
for their part were reluctant to draw attention to their use of the various forms and
degrees of citation, because inspiration was considered to be linked with the unconscious
mind, as Wagner claimed, and mere work with the conscious mind (Reynolds, 2003, pp.
105, 108). Acknowledging such tangible procedures might lessen the aura of inexplicable
mystery in which most people like to think the creative act is enveloped. This
romanticised concept resulted in several prejudices, as Reynolds noted: “Analysts have
always been quick to spot motivic transformation between movements,” even in first
performances, yet have been reluctant to point out allusions (2003, p. 165). On the other
hand, for a composer to disclose the use of quotation “implies an audience of listeners
who need to be told” (p. 142).
Intentionality in Wieck-Schumann’s citations is only certain in the duet March.
However, her requisite outstanding memory for music, her awareness of citation and
resemblance, and convincing reasons for her to have made a particular citation (discussed
in individual cases) are facts supporting a strong case for intentional quotation and
allusion in other works of hers. Each pre-requisite for intentional quotation is addressed
Like other child prodigies, Wieck-Schumann “displayed a remarkable
memory…and could play by heart and remember for a long time every little piece which
she had tried over once or twice” (Litzmann, 1979, Vol. 1, pp. 3-4). Following Liszt’s
Most of the quotations identified in Wieck-Schumann’s compositions by Hohenemser, Sams, Chissell,
Reich, Klassen, Draheim, Höft and Nauhaus are mentioned in the course of this thesis. As noted previously,
several could be categorised more simply and logically as recurring motifs.
lead, she was an early pioneer in introducing full-length solo public recitals from
memory. Her memory remained a long-term one: the lapse of time between Schumann’s
original work and her quotation of it was not a limiting factor. In the case of her quotation
of Schlummerlied in the Sonata, it was merely several weeks; it was two years from his
Violin Sonata to the quotation she made in her Violin Romances op. 22; from
Schumann’s Wiegenliedchen to her Romance op. 21/2 it was ten years; from Manfred to
Trio II of her duet March it was thirty years; and from his vocal duet op. 34/4 to the
March Trio I it was 39 years.
Wieck-Schumann’s letters and diaries mention musical reminiscences from 1839
until the end of her life. A specialised vocabulary for citation types only began to be
codified in the 1990s (Burkholder, 1994, p. 861), so her word choice, and the translator’s,
on the subject is limited mostly to the general term ‘reminiscence.’ She found
reminiscences of Mendelssohn, Schumann and Marschner in Wagner’s music (Litzmann,
1979, Vol. 2, p. 363). Too-close reminiscence of a particular composer was a criticism
she made of a number of Brahms’s works (p. 322). In 1840 she wrote of finding several
vivid reminders of the song composer Zumsteeg in Schumann’s Ende vom Lied op. 12/8
(Roesner, 1977, p. 105) for which he praised her discrimination (Schumann & Schumann,
1994, p. 124).
The following exchange in 1839 explains some of the Schumanns’ views on
citation. Clara wrote to Robert:
Today I also got to know you as a musical thief, namely in Beethoven’s Sonata 106; it
has a passage you adopted in one of your compositions; … the same in Beethoven’s
sonata 33 [sic]. I was quite amazed and could hardly believe my eyes (Schumann &
Schumann, 1996, p. 484).
Robert replied: “If I steal something, I’ll be more subtle, as you already know
from your own experience… But I didn’t have it printed” (p. 495). Clara insisted that he
had identified the wrong place: “how can you think I am so ignorant? …no, you were
wise enough to take the stolen passage from the middle so it’s hard to tell” (p. 497).
Schumann maintained that he was happy to discover such things in his own works and
looked forward to having his plagiarism proved by her (p. 508). His reply to Clara’s letter
about his Beethoven ‘theft’ reflects the common practice of altering quoted material not
only for artistic reasons but to avoid any charge of plagiarism.
All the above evidence makes unintentional quotation by Wieck-Schumann very
unlikely; but given the sheer volume and variety of the repertoire which she had
performed and heard, it remains possible. By definition, composers possess the ability to
bring subconscious processes and memories into the consciousness of musical
expression. Nonetheless, some benefit of the doubt should be given when a strong case
for a citation can be made. Reluctance to admit the presence of citations in a composition
places a limit on a composer’s subtlety and ingenuity which Sams viewed as a
disparagement of the creative imagination (1993, p. 26).
Reasons for citation between the Schumanns
Schumann’s well-known practices in quotation were part of a long parallel
development of borrowing musical ideas shared with Wieck-Schumann:
Beginning with his op. 2, Papillons, and her op. 2, Caprices en forme de valse, the two
young musicians were working and playing in such close proximity that it is often
difficult to determine the origin of many musical ideas they shared (Reich, 2001, p. 219).
From 1833 onwards, Robert and Clara created musical games and secret messages
in their correspondence and compositions (p. 213). Jean Paul Richter’s aim to become a
“‘writer of secrets” inspired Schumann to compose in a similar way, so that “The playerreader engages the hide-and-seek search for meaning...to decode the secret languages of
others, to discover hidden treasures” (Botstein, 1994, p. 15).
For the Schumanns, the reasons for making musical citations included
reminiscences of past events in their lives, allusions to current circumstances, musical or
personal nostalgia for the past, paying homage as in Schumann’s Studien op. 56 or
creating a memorial tribute as in Wieck-Schumann’s 1856 Romance. Clearly either
composer could have invented for themselves the ideas they adapted, but the process of
citing each other’s work promoted a bond and a commonality of interest in which music
was perceived not as an object, but as an experience of communication and meaning.
The desire by composers to be part of a wider community, expressing friendship,
admiration or tribute by citations of each other’s works, may have been a still more
potent motivation for a composer who, except for her interaction with Schumann, felt
herself to be marginalised by gender. The serious discussion and analysis of her work,
accorded to her male colleagues, was too often denied her. As Höft wrote of the Violin
Romances op. 22: “The important musical periodicals payed [sic] little attention to this
opus. This was the typical fate of ‘ladies’ pieces’” (1983, Preface).
As Beethoven had modelled Mozart, Bach and Handel, so the Schumanns and
others could feel that “one’s allusive ingenuity, like one’s contrapuntal finesse, could be
measured against predecessors,” especially in view of the fact that “for literature,
references and allusions to works by earlier writers have been held to be a hallmark of
German Romantic culture” (Reynolds, 2003, p. 167).
Seeding a work with quotations was an art form in itself. Design subtleties, like
working out the placement of the Schlummerlied quotation in the second movement of
Wieck-Schumann’s Sonata, had a long history in other spheres of endeavour.1 For Clara,
citation must have had some analogies to creating a cryptic crossword for Robert: with
his interest in the field, “the greatest of musical cryptographers” (Sams, 1993, p. 47)
could decode and enjoy teasing out references. In the same spirit, Robert had been eager
for Clara to find his references to her in various works such as his Sonata op. 14: “By the
way, you never did figure out that your theme appears in every possible form”
(Schumann & Schumann, 1994, p. 105).2
The answer is that there was no need for her to write about the permutations
Schumann made of her theme since they were obvious to her as a fellow composer. She
had proved her ingenuity by her own stylistic allusions, and by devising variations
moving far from their theme in her Concert Variations op. 8. Likewise, when she wrote to
Schumann of mistakes or misprints in his compositions, she gave no details beyond bar
They were appreciated for instance in 18th century gardening, where allusions ranged over topics from
politics to the landscape paintings of Poussin, and where “success in the rarefied game of spot-the-allusion”
revealed both the garden creator’s culture and the outsider’s intellectual ability to decode it (Bennett, 2000,
A scholar’s comment made to the present writer - that Robert’s letter showed Clara was not clever enough
to work out references to her own work – is one reason why the present research on her quotational abilities
and general acuity is needed. It counteracts some early 20th century negative perceptions of WieckSchumann as a musician which have been mentioned previously (see De Vries, 1996, p. 16).
number, confident that he would locate the specific problem (Schumann & Schumann,
1994, pp. 219, 221).
Although quotations could be altered by the Schumanns when citing ideas from
each other’s works, it was not to avoid plagiarism; nor was acknowledgement of a
quotation on the score or elsewhere an issue in this domestic context. Both were
irrelevant when Robert’s stated ideal was a merging so complete that their compositions
were to be viewed like a common family property. In 1839 he wrote: “we will publish
many things in both our names; posterity will think of us as one heart and one soul and
won’t find out what’s yours and what’s mine. How happy I am!” (Schumann &
Schumann, 1996, p. 246).
His implied desire for stylistic unity could be considered something of an
imposition and limitation on the junior member of the duo, who was nineteen years old at
the time and still developing her musical directions. After their marriage, WieckSchumann presumably would have striven to keep Robert’s ideal of unity alive in her
compositions, as she always sought his approval of them. The ideal of unity could be
considered a reason for musical citations of each other’s works persisting over many
The full significance of the pressure on Wieck-Schumann to develop in a way
compatible with Schumann’s composing style has not been recognised. His desire that
their compositions should be indistinguishable suggested a denial of her full autonomy
and independence as a composer. In response to his desire for unity of style, WieckSchumann may have curtailed musical experimentation in directions less acceptable to
Schumann, possibly with counterproductive results for her output.
Modern notions of scholarly objectivity through the second half of the twentieth
century have led music analysts to distance themselves from biography. Yet, when
searching for allusions, biography is “far richer than genre as a source of concealed
meaning” (Reynolds, 2003, p. 165). While a solely biographical view of a composition is
as limiting as any other single focus, direct biographical influence on art was a tenet of
19th century thought which cannot be disregarded in hermeneutical studies. “Mainstream
musicology tends to assume that the most important aspects of music ‘operate according
to ‘purely musical’ procedures’” (Macarthur, 2002, p. 107). This concept neglects the
social part of the equation which was very strong in Wieck-Schumann’s case, because
much of her music fulfilled extra-musical functions as personal gifts and communications
to Schumann. These added functions meet Burkholder’s requirement for intentional
citation: “proof of borrowing is incomplete until a purpose can be demonstrated. If no
function for the borrowing can be established, its use remains a mystery and the
resemblance may be coincidental” (2007, §1).
Some of the quotations which will be examined reveal Wieck-Schumann as
conforming to her times in the notion of music as a form of autobiography carrying extramusical dimensions.1 Wieck-Schumann’s description of her tragic-toned Romance op.
21/1 as an expression of her great sadness on a day when Brahms was visiting Schumann
in Endenich asylum has already been noted. Embodying her life experience, her musical
‘comments’ on life and love might recall a particular day, and even acquire words
vicariously when a song was quoted. Her reason for quoting, and the persona role she
assumed, also varied. Some examples discussed in the thesis are outlined here:
Die gute Nacht is an example of plural meanings imported through an implied
text when another song was quoted. She made the allusion as a bride, lover and
The Schlummerlied quotation, commemorating a specific time, event and place,
was made as a new parent.
The quotation underpinning the whole of the Romance op. 21/2 in effect created a
tribute from a mother to her family.
After Schumann’s death, the multiple allusions in the Romance of 1856 serve as
an autobiographical retrospective made by a grieving widow.
It is well known that this was true of Schumann in numerous works. For example he wrote to Clara of his
op. 17 that the work was “a profound lament for you” and added that “You can understand the Fantasie
only if you remember the unfortunate summer of 1836 when I gave you up” (Schumann & Schumann,
1994, p. 129 and 1996, p. 166).
Communication via music was a concept shared by the Schumanns. Clara wrote
to Robert in January 1838: “I just talked with you at the piano” (Schumann & Schumann,
1994, p. 82). Robert echoed her in 1839: “I’ve completely immersed myself in my dream
world at the piano and am not conscious of anything but you – and I just play your
compositions and talk to my old friend” (Schumann & Schumann, 1996, p. 417). Music
was a language and a means of communing with a ‘soulmate,’ as Clara called Robert
(Schumann & Schumann, 2002, p. 344). Her musical reminiscences of life with
Schumann became another means of communication and part of familial interaction. In
place of today’s text message left on a mobile telephone, a message could be left in a
composition for the other to find and enjoy. Like text messages, they were fragmentary
and not always understandable to outsiders. From a personal viewpoint, WieckSchumann may not have wished certain allusions to be widely comprehended. As
Schumann wrote: “I should not like to be understood by everybody” (Ratcliffe, 2001, p.
De Vries noted that when Wieck-Schumann told her grandchild Ferdinand of
sending the published copy of her Variations op. 20 to Schumann in the asylum, the
aspect of the story she emphasised was that Schumann immediately recognised the innervoice self-quotation she had added from her Romance variée op. 3 (1996, p. 175). It is
clear that both the fact of the quotation and Schumann’s recognition of it were very
important to her. The self-quotation from op. 3 was included for personal reasons. It
reminded them both that Schumann had written his Impromptus über ein Thema von
Clara Wieck op. 5 on her op. 3 as “his first homage to her” (p. 175).
Wieck-Schumann’s citations of Schumann can be harder to locate than his
citations of her music, partly because she made fewer references to her compositions in
letters than Robert did in his. The citations are also less obvious because she quoted few
whole themes, and provided few clues through titles, epigraphs or mottos at the head of
the music. Her style of self-quotation or recall in the fourth movement of her Sonata and
the Schlummerlied quotation in its second movement show her preference for concealing
and assimilating a citation thoroughly into its new context. By contrast, it has been noted
that Schumann’s quotations or self-quotations often give a disjunct effect and are obvious
by their length or persistence; for instance, in the approximately forty-bars’ quotation of
the Marseillaise in Hermann und Dorothea op. 136 (Sams, 1968, p. 25). Except for
demarcating the borrowing in the March as a Trio, there is little evidence in her music of
Schumann’s practice, noted by Daverio, of marking his quotations “by setting them off as
isolated gestures or by suddenly shifting the tempo, character, or key” (cited in Ferris,
2005, p. 134).
For Wieck-Schumann, quotation involved active musical re-creation around the
cited material. This is demonstrated in Liebeszauber op. 13/3 (Example 3.32), where,
emerging organically from the last six notes of its opening Schumann quotation, a series
of re-arrangements of her rising fourth motif follows to form the remainder of the song.
Other citations of Schumann’s music are also integrated closely into her own composition
by means of her customary practice of quoting fragments of up to ten notes and changing
the environment around them so extensively that only the melodic intervals might remain
It seems clear that Wieck-Schumann’s contrapuntal gifts had a bearing on her
mastery of quotation. Reynolds pointed out the parallel between weaving an allusion into
a composition and the art of counterpoint: “It creates an entity that is greater than the sum
of the independent lines, subsuming them into a collaborative whole. The game is in
making something difficult and intellectual sound natural, beautiful and effortless” (2003,
p. 164). In this sense it was like her fugal writing.
The main criterion for identifying the quotations discussed in this thesis is that the
notes involved occur in structurally significant places such as openings or endings of a
section or complete work. Endings are significant in Schumann’s citations, the bestknown example being the end of the first movement of the Phantasie op. 17 where the
allusion to the Beethoven song An die ferne Geliebte is finally made clear (see Hoeckner,
1997). Less obvious instances of quotation, such as the one in Wieck-Schumann’s Violin
Romance op. 22/1 (Chissell, 1983, p. 118), still occur at the end of a paragraph or section,
as does the Sonata’s Schlummerlied quotation. The main exceptions to be illustrated are
some mid-paragraph allusions in the duet March to which Wieck-Schumann referred in
Wieck-Schumann’s musical borrowing is not purely for aesthetic reasons, such as
colour or contrast. It is quotation on a larger scale, with purpose and meaning. The
borrowing in the March Trio I (Examples 6.9-6.11), which summarises the main part and
the postlude of a Schumann song, shows that matching speeds, keys, harmonies or
rhythms are not requisites, any more than they are in quotation or allusion.1
Quotation is distinguished from allusion by the direct transfer of thematic
intervals from another composition, while allusion shows more alterations from the
original composition, but with a similar contour of intervals, similar harmonies or other
resemblances to aid identification. As with quotation, allusions may occur in specific
locations like a postlude which match the original music’s position and may also match
Finally, ciphers, to use a generic term, need to be mentioned, for while they are
not a standard quotational practice, they can be quoted in the sense of a motto. Musical
encodings or ciphers involve messages to be ‘deciphered’ as letters of the alphabet. Wellknown examples are Schumann’s opp. 1, 9, 68 (‘Gade’), and his Rebus in the
Klavierbüchlein which encrypts a full sentence (1998). As the German ‘Es’ (=Eb) was
used by him as part of his name in Carnaval, Wieck-Schumann’s choice of Eb for the key
of some appropriate love songs may encrypt the letter S for Schumann. In the same way,
C stood for Clara in Schumann’s works (Roesner, 1977, pp. 170-171). A possible cipher
may be present in her Romance of 1856 (Example 6.39).
That Mozart’s setting of Das Veilchen is unintentionally quoted in the opening
notes of Wieck-Schumann’s setting of the same poem is very unlikely (Examples 3.18,
3.19). She performed Mozart’s song some months before writing her own in 1853, and
the marriage diaries recorded the “singular impression” it made when she first heard it in
1841 (Schumann & Schumann, 1993, p. 58). The doubt arises because Litzmann reported
that Clara did not know Mozart’s setting and that Robert laughed at her but liked her
Another type of borrowing is not relevant here, that is the borrowing of themes and subjects for sets of
variations such as her Concert Variations on Bellini’s Pirate op. 8, or for the genre ‘souvenir de –’ as in her
op. 9 Souvenir de Vienne: Impromptu pour le pianoforte based on the Austrian National Hymn.
setting; so either Litzmann or Clara was in error (see Reich, 2001, p. 322). Poundie’s
explanation seems the right one, that Litzmann simply misunderstood a joke between
Clara and Robert about the musical quotation: any claim that she did not know Mozart’s
song probably “was made sarcastically or in jest, thereby prompting Robert’s laughter”
(2002, p. 18, note 12).
A folio of Wieck-Schumann’s musical citations of Schumann
“Nothing is more odious than music without hidden meaning” (Chopin, cited in Watson,
1994, p. 42).
March, 1879. Proof of intentional quotation and allusion
There are two intentional citations of Schumann in the piano duet March in Eb
documented in Wieck-Schumann’s own words, making the March invaluable for
studying her ideas and procedures on the subject of musical citation. Although it had
been more than two decades since Wieck-Schumann had composed, she wrote the March
in 1879 as a gift to send for the golden wedding anniversary celebrations of the Hübners,
who were intimate friends of the Schumanns from their time as residents of Dresden
thirty years before.
Among the revelations in the diary, the most surprising is that quotation was such
a normal process associated with composing in the Schumann household that it was one
of the children who suggested making a quotation the foundation of a march for the
Hübners. Wieck-Schumann noted in her diary, “I had no clue to what I should give them
until Marie came up with the idea of my writing them a march and using Robert’s
‘Grossvater und Grossmutter’ duet in it” (cited in Nauhaus, 1996, p. 4). Robert’s duet
was Familien-Gemälde op. 34/4 for soprano and tenor with a melody alluding to the
‘grandfather dance,’ well-known from his Papillons op. 2, Carnaval op. 9 and other
works (Todd, 1994, p. 84):
Example 6. 9. Schumann, Familien-Gemälde op. 34/4, bars 1- 6.
Wieck-Schumann quoted a shortened first section of Schumann’s song at the
beginning of Trio 1 of the March, writing into the score the first line of its text
“Grossvater und Großmutter, die saßen im Gartenhaag” (Grandfather and grandmother
sat in the garden house) to identify the source beyond any doubt. The tempo was
increased from the song’s ‘Langsam’ to the overall March direction of ‘Frisch und
Example 6. 10. Wieck-Schumann, March, Primo part, bars 22-26.
Her decision to make a large-scale borrowing was appropriate because it allowed
Robert a voice at the family ceremony through the lengthy quotation of 26 bars of his
song with its understood text. In effect, the transparency and authoritativeness of the
appropriation conveyed a tribute from him to the Hübners ‘in his own words’ with
minimal paraphrasing. This was emphasised by incorporating his vocal duet into the
medium of a piano duet, known as a favoured genre the Schumanns had played together.
The audience at the celebration – or at least the musical Hübners – would have
understood and appreciated the words implicit in the musical allusion while the duet was
being performed (by Frau Sewelle and Frau Gliemann: Nauhaus, 1996, p. 5) .
Wieck-Schumann made clear her borrowing of Schumann’s music by segregating
it into a separate formal unit, Trio 1, with a new subdominant key of Ab major. Although
the song is easily recognisable in the solo piano arrangement below, a comparison with
Example 6.9 shows the alterations made to its key, tempo, rhythm and harmony.
Example 6. 11. Wieck-Schumann, March, bars 22-26, solo arrangement (Selmon).
Further alterations found in the Trio include changing the quavers in bar 39 from
scalic to repeated notes, presumably to sound drum-like in keeping with the overall
character of the March. For the same reason, dotted rhythms are substituted at times for
even ones. The Trio is made much shorter by cutting to the song’s postlude (the Trio’s
bar 44 corresponds to Schumann’s bar 60) and by using one of its ideas to end four bars
later as a replacement for Schumann’s nineteen-bar postlude.
If such a major borrowing as that made in Trio 1 were the only yardstick by which
to measure other citations in Wieck-Schumann’s works, there would be little left to
discuss. Fortunately, because she felt the need of a more reflective section in the March,
there is another whole area of allusion to be found in its Trio No. 2. These allusions were
taken from Manfred op. 115, the work which most closely summed up Schumann’s own
tortured destiny. Wieck-Schumann wrote on several occasions that she considered
Manfred Schumann’s greatest and most moving work (Litzmann, 1979, Vol. 1, p. 446;
Vol. 2, p. 160).
I added a second trio…that was successful also, though certainly not without obvious
reminiscences of Schumann (Manfred). In the 2nd trio, in contrast to the 1st in which the
music so charmingly depicts the peacefulness of the grandparents surrounded by their
children, sad memories of happy days gone by came over me, of the love of my youth,
and then the air from Manfred came to me, which is, as it were, enshrined in my heart
and calls up the past oftener than any other melody (Litzmann, 1979, Vol. 2, p. 348).
Several points stand out. Without her testimony, allusions to Schumann’s
Manfred would be very difficult to recognise in the Trio, let alone substantiate.
Nauhaus’s translation reads: “I wrote a second trio…though not, of course, without a few
allusive evocations of Schumann” (1996, p. 5). The original German is “Ich machte aber
noch ein zweites Trio dazu…freilich nicht ohne einige bedeutende Anklänge an
Schumann auch (Manfred)” (p. 3). In either translation, Wieck-Schumann’s “obvious
reminiscences” or “allusive evocations” implied no direct quotation but a paraphrase of
certain features of Manfred to express her sorrow at the loss of Robert and their life
Either translation also makes clear that she took it for granted that a composition
of hers would contain intentional allusions to a Schumann work. Since there was already
an obvious Schumann borrowing forming Trio I, the mention of an allusion in Trio II
appears to be a statement of her practice about incorporating Schumann allusions as a
general principle. This is a conclusion supported by many illustrations presented in this
study. It raises the question of how long allusion had been so customary in her composing
that her daughter Marie could remind her of it as a basis for the composition of the
March. The answer is that Schumann allusions can be found across her entire output (see
additional allusions listed in Appendix 4).
Various observations regarding Wieck-Schumann’s quotation techniques can be
made from the March. Commonality of key is not a prerequisite when identifying
possible citations in other works. As she knew she was going to base the March around
Schumann’s song, it would have been easy to arrange for at least the first Trio to be in the
song’s key of F major if it were a desirable precondition. However, the keys of neither
Trio I nor II match the quoted originals.
Nowhere is there a note-by-note quotation from Manfred to be found in the
March. The Primo part of bars 90-92 has the same notes as the Manfred Overture violin
part at bars 240-244, with F omitted and with a different rhythm. However, the
inspiration for the allusion seems to be the wide intervals characteristic of the Manfred
melody in the circled bars illustrated below. In essence they are a disguised chromatic
descent from C# which is made plainer in the March:
Example 6. 12. Schumann, Manfred Overture op. 115, bars 53-58, piano reduction.
Example 6. 13. Wieck-Schumann, March, Trio II, bars 69-76, solo arr. (Selmon).
Although the bass line is similar, the harmonies differ, and Wieck-Schumann
treated the idea very freely. In an idiosyncratic use of her chromatic descent motto, she
rearranged the intervals so that all the melody’s seconds fall - instead of rise and fall - in
the ringed bars. The drum-beat dotted rhythm of the first section of the March is
maintained in many bars, and while that rhythm is not prominent in Manfred, it is an
appropriate one for suggesting Manfred’s doom.
The tenuous nature of Trio II’s several allusions is surely deliberate. Such careful
concealment suggests that Wieck-Schumann judged there could be only one clear
quotation - in Trio I, surrounded by her own strongly defined material - before there was
a danger of the March becoming a pastiche and thus failing to establish its own identity.
The same reasoning would explain why the many musical reminiscences found within
her last Romance of 1856 are “evocative,” as she described Trio II’s allusions, rather than
clear-cut and unequivocal in nature.
Wieck-Schumann chose several motifs from the two quoted Schumann works, the
song duet op. 34/4 and Manfred, and incorporated them throughout the main parts of the
March to serve as unifying devices. One is the rhythm of seven notes taken from the
opening of Schumann’s song.
Example 6. 14. Wieck-Schumann, March, Primo part, bars 22-24 and 52-54.
Bars 22-24 quoting Schumann’s song:
Bars 52-54 using the same song rhythm:
The expressively wide intervals used throughout the Manfred melodrama are
another idea recalled by Wieck-Schumann in the March Trio II, for instance in bars 8688 of the Primo part:
Example 6. 15. Wieck-Schumann, March, Primo part, bar 86.
Because of the desire for the musical presence of Schumann in this celebratory
March, it would have been the obvious place to encode his name (Eb = S, C, B =H, Ab) as
he had done in Carnaval. It does not appear in recognisable form beyond the first three
notes of the transposed Trio, Eb-Ab-C; but the missing B renders it incomplete and
The March is a work which ranges widely in its topics and emotions. It covers
march and song; joyful family celebration and individual nostalgia; literary and text
allusions through song text as well as Manfred; musical allusions to times past; and the
tailoring of personalised meanings through quotations of Schumann’s music which were
suitable as much for the grandparent recipients as for lending their departed friend Robert
a voice. Musical borrowing was the perfect vehicle for weaving such an evocative
tapestry of past and present into a most effective and satisfying result.
Following Schumann’s death, Wieck-Schumann was the main custodian and
promulgator of his music, but the only occasion on which she borrowed freely from his
legacy was in the March. The March is a thoughtful demonstration of the technique of
musical borrowing, which is gaining recognition and appreciation through writers like
Burkholder (1994) and Metzer (2003). The trend seems likely to continue, for “as art
grows more conscious of its history, it may assume something of the character of
historiographical discourse, becoming stratified, as quotations of prior art introduce
subtexts within the text” (Korsyn, 1991. p. 71, note 143).
Die gute Nacht. Allusion for altering meaning
“The idea that meanings are embedded in music itself, including meanings concerning
the sex of a composer, was not really given serious attention until the decade of the
1990s” (Macarthur, 2002, p. 12).
Wieck-Schumann’s sharing of Schumann’s practice of writing music “as an
autobiographical medium” (Lippman, 1964, p. 327) is strongly expressed in another
composition, her song Die gute Nacht, die ich dir sage (The good night that I bid you).
An allusion in Die gute Nacht (to which the title is normally shortened) has not been
pointed out previously. It delivers a quite specific message, something which is attainable
in a song where the possibilities inherent in its text are first studied and understood
thoroughly before the composer plans or writes a note. “A vocal composition is the
ideal…means of casting the bait” for allusions, as Keppler pointed out (1956, p. 479). He
found that composers often left hints, such as a suggestive title. Die gute Nacht would fall
into this category:
The very existence of such hints is, I think, evidence that the composer is offering to play
a game with anyone who knows the rules. To compete requires curiosity over and above
that of the average listener and a fairly thorough musical grounding. The number of
participants is thus automatically restricted. The planted hints, where they occur at all,
rarely arouse a suspicion, although they may well confirm one already aroused by
musical association. In short, musical perception comes first; the hint reassures those who
have already perceived (p. 498).
Die gute Nacht is an example of how a composition’s meaning can be altered by
recognising the contexts and meanings in the work from which it quotes. By WieckSchumann’s time, making a melodic quotation in order to allude to the quoted work’s
text was already a long-established practice dating back to the 15th century (Reynolds,
1992, pp. 230-231).
Written in June 1841 (first published in 1992), Die gute Nacht has a postlude
which models and alludes to the postlude of Schumann’s song op. 42/7 from Frauenliebe
und Leben (1840). The result of alluding to it is to imply several other song texts within
Die gute Nacht because Schumann’s postlude is a motific summation of the high points
from several songs in his cycle - for in the next and final song No. 8 the subject’s
husband is dead. Wieck-Schumann would have been well aware of the functions of
Schumann’s postludes because she knew his songs so intimately. She “reveled in” and
sang eagerly “countless times” each new Schumann song as it arrived (Schumann &
Schumann, 2002, p. 98). As a new bride, she recorded in the marriage diaries that she had
played and sung “many of Robert’s lieder with an especially animated mood” for visitors
to their home (Schumann & Schumann, 1993, p. 11).
Die gute Nacht was one of four songs Wieck-Schumann had written for the
Schumanns’ joint song project Liebesfrühling op. 37/op. 12. It is the only one not
included in the set. Musically Die gute Nacht is more episodic in nature and less
motifically connected than the other three songs because of its textual imagery. At the
words portraying an angel flying, the music takes wing with an airy treble sound quite
unlike the dense and often low-register sonority of the other songs. If it were to have been
included in op. 37/op. 12, an ideal position would have been as a final ‘postlude’ song to
the whole cycle, echoing Shakespeare’s “So, good night” from Puck’s last verse in A
Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Schumann’s final duet in his op. 37 songs was criticised at the time it was written
for ordinariness: “it oversteps the bounds of simplicity, even of the popular” (cited in
Hallmark, 1990, p. 20). While Die gute Nacht has a simpler surface in comparison to the
richly-textured songs she wrote at the same time, it contains a sophisticated use of
analogy and contextualisation to share a personal communication with Schumann, made
through the three distinct sections of the song. They are the initial block-chord chorale,
the angel’s message and the postlude allusions.
The postlude is described first, because a listener’s full understanding of Die gute
Nacht comes retrospectively when its allusions have been heard and their implications
traced back to the beginning of the song. Since Schumann’s Frauenliebe op. 42/7
expresses the joy of the mother with her child, the allusion to its postlude brings the
subject of mother and child into Die gute Nacht. Significantly, the song was written when
Wieck-Schumann was pregnant with her first child Marie.
Schumann’s postlude to his op. 42/7 alludes to two previous songs in his cycle. It
begins with an allusion to part of the postlude of op. 42/6, which in turn paraphrases the
shape of bars 43-44 from its previous song op. 42/5, with the bride’s words farewelling
her sisters on her wedding day: “I joyfully leave your company.” To end op. 42/7,
Schumann quoted the three last vocal notes from the sixth song. These notes had set the
words “dein Bildnis!” (“your image”), referring to the child’s likeness to its father
(marked with asterisks in Examples 6.16-6.18).
Example 6. 16. Schumann, Frauenliebe und Leben op. 42/6, bars 54-58.
At the end of Schumann’s op. 42/7 postlude, the “dein Bildnis!” phrase is recalled
and decorated with an acciaccatura (see Example 6.17). At the end of Wieck-Schumann’s
postlude, the same contour is decorated with a neighbour note. After Marie’s birth in
September 1841, Clara had written of her joy in her baby whom she described as
Robert’s “dear little image” (Schumann & Schumann, 1993, p. 109). As the same “dein
Bildnis!” motif had closed her song Die gute Nacht several months earlier, it suggests she
was still mindful of Schumann’s Frauenliebe und Leben from when it was written in
1840 through much of 1841. Each postlude, to op. 42/7 and to Die gute Nacht, has grace
notes in the bass, two bars apart. In Example 6.18, Die gute Nacht is transposed from F to
D to facilitate comparison:
Example 6. 17. Schumann, Frauenliebe und Leben op. 42/7, bars 34-41.
Example 6. 18. Wieck-Schumann, Die gute Nacht, bars 49-56, transposed.
The 6/8 stemming of the quavers in bars 49 and 51 of Wieck-Schumann’s song
aids the visual recognition of the similarity to Schumann’s postlude. A play on rhythms
could be intentional. Her fondness for rhythmic ambiguities and duple/triple cross
rhythms has been illustrated in Chapter 3.1
An allusion is suggested in Die gute Nacht because the postlude is not closely
related melodically or harmonically to the rest of the song. Introducing a ‘foreign’ motif
or theme was contrary to Wieck-Schumann’s usual practice of careful integration.
Internal discontinuities therefore provide a hint that the postlude stands apart as a
However, while it was not a uniform practice, Wieck-Schumann sometimes stemmed quavers across beat
subdivisions in triple time. Stemming like op. 14’s is clearly intended as a cross-rhythm. Op. 11/1’s
stemming suggests a dual 6/8 and 3/4 time interpretation. Other such 6/8-style stemmings are used to mark
cross-phrasing, breaths or the three-note upbeat motif, all of which can be seen in Ich hab’ in deinem Auge
reference to an outside source, just as Schumann’s postlude to op. 42/7 imported
unrelated motifs from earlier songs in his cycle. This practice had its own significance:
where Schumann writes a prelude or postlude apparently unrelated to the rest of the
song…, it is often a sign that the conscious mind is at work. With that idea in mind the
hidden meaning may leap to our ears, as when the postlude to Der Himmel hat eine Träne
is heard singing to itself [Giordano’s] ‘Caro mio ben’ (Sams, 1993, p. 25).
The change of harmonic emphasis onto the dominant for the postlude is another
clue that material has been imported. Hitherto, the dominant is touched on only briefly and not at a phrase opening - until the postlude begins in bar 49. At this point a four-bar
dominant pedal begins beneath a V7/V harmony.
Once the source of Wieck-Schumann’s allusion is recognised, the postlude
becomes the key to understanding the song’s wider meaning. As well as references to a
mother and baby, the postlude allusions imply a prior wedding. Die gute Nacht begins in
a style suggestive of a church wedding topos, with block harmonies and a suspension in
Schumann also had associated block chords with the words ‘church,’ ‘organ’ and ‘procession’ in bars 1925 of his Sonntags am Rhein (Sundays on the Rhine) op. 36/1.
Example 6. 19. Wieck-Schumann, Die gute Nacht, bars 1-16.
Alternatively or additionally, the hymn-like opening of Die gute Nacht sets the
mood for the angel’s message in the central section.
A wider meaning to the song is implied by the intimacy of the first line and title,
“The good night that I bid you.” Robert and Clara had addressed each other in various
letters as “friend” (Schumann & Schumann, 1996, p. 14) and Robert’s song Süsser
Freund op. 42/6 corroborates referring to a lover/spouse as ‘friend.’ Hence the word
“friend” alongside the word “listen” in bar 9 signals a message for Robert as clearly as
any text could. In the same way, the last two lines of the poem, “Even your friend’s songs
now bid you good night,” seem to call for, or even announce, the postlude allusions to the
songs of her friend Robert.
By 1839 Robert and Clara were exchanging poetry with a view towards songsettings. Although Clara wrote out the majority of the poems considered suitable for
setting by the two composers (Reich, 2001, pp. 213-4), it was Robert who copied Die
gute Nacht and evidently suggested it for Clara (Hallmark, 1990, p. 7). The five-month
delay between the writing of Robert’s nine songs and Clara’s contributions intended for
the joint op. 37/op. 12 gave her the opportunity for the setting of Die gute Nacht to reflect
her changed circumstances as an expectant mother.
Impending motherhood could be read behind the message brought by the angel in
the central lines of the poem: “An angel who carries the message goes to and fro. He
brings it to you and has brought the greeting again to me.” The angel is accompanied by
contrary motion patterns in bars 23-24 which evoke wonderfully the opening and closing
Example 6. 20. Wieck-Schumann, Die gute Nacht, bars 22-25.
In the light of the mother and child reference of the postlude, the angel with a
message calls to mind the biblical story of Mary and the Annunciation. Not only did
Friedrich Wieck have a degree in theology (Reich, 2001, p. 5), but Robert read the bible
daily (Brion, 1956, p. 355). In March 1838 he wrote to Clara: “I look up to you as I
would to a Madonna” (Schumann & Schumann, 1996, p. 73). Literary and musical
allusions abound in the song, which Schumann would be unlikely to have missed. From
the many letters which echo song texts set by both composers, Clara would have
identified with the angel in the poem from Robert’s frequent references to her as an
angel, including the very apt, “But of course it’s you, angel of joy, who is keeping me
under her wings” (Schumann & Schumann, 1994, p. 146). In turn, Clara forecast her song
setting by ending a letter on 23rd April 1838 with “the good night I will bid you – every
night” (p. 163).
Bar 24 uses imagery similar to Bach’s “flight of angels” writing from the organ chorales From heaven on
high I come here BWV 606 and From heaven came the host of angels BWV 607: “Rising and falling waves
of scale patterns forming a dominant feature in a composition have been identified as Bach’s tone picture of
the appearance of angels” (Engels, 2006, pp. 170-171).
The sudden and remarkable modulation to the flattened submediant key of Db in
bars 25-26, accomplished via Wieck-Schumann’s trademark minor seconds in chromatic
descent, has an effect which could be read as an ecstatic welcome to the pregnancy about
which the Schumanns gave discreet hints in their marriage diaries.1 It may be significant
that the ‘Kinderszenen’ contour is suggested in bars 33-34 as the angel brings the good
Example 6. 21. Wieck-Schumann, Die gute Nacht, bars 22-35.
Circumlocutions typical of the time included Robert’s: “For the past week my wife has been giving me
beautiful hopes” (Schumann & Schumann, 1993, p. 46) and Clara’s: “Silently I cherished yet another
intimate wish, surely yours as well” (p. 48).
Perhaps following the spirit of Schumann’s Frauenliebe op. 42/6, where
“Schumann famously cut the poetic stanza that spells out her message” of pregnancy
(Muxfeldt, 2001, p. 48), Wieck-Schumann chose the piano alone to convey the personal
nature of her own message of pregnancy in the postlude. Even so, Schumann may still
have judged the song too personal for publication in op. 37/op. 12.
An extra-musical meaning fits the Romantic concept of a postlude commenting
on a song or completing its story-telling. As Solie pointed out, “nineteenth century
listeners expected music to carry messages” (cited in Boyd, 1990, p. 158). In this context,
as it is necessary to read between the lines in the marriage diaries to understand the
pregnancy allusions, so the listener has to hear between the lines to obtain the same
message from the song. “Understanding is based on morphology over time; it is to see
how things unfold, one from the other” (Tarasti, 2002, p. 23).
The additional texts invoked through allusions in Die Gute Nacht suggest a scena
or tableau of an ideal family life Wieck-Schumann eventually had won despite her
father’s fierce opposition. Merging the meanings of two songs through their postlude
similarities allows a fuller meaning to unfold, like an aural version of charades. The
listener hears both songs, thinks over their meanings, and finds a word or phrase which
sums up a composite meaning. The charade is interpreted backwards: from the postlude’s
last three notes invoking the baby (“dein Bildnis!”) as part of the reference to the
mother’s joy from the postlude allusion to Schumann’s op. 42/7; then from the angel’s
message in the middle section reminding the listener of the Annunciation story; and
finally from the church-style opening suggesting church/wedding connotations. While the
poem of Die gute Nacht does not mention a wedding, a mother or a baby, its postlude
allusions embody texts from Schumann’s songs about all three, leading to a charade-style
‘solution’ that appears to be ‘family life,’ referring to a new family life about to begin for
Charades had been invented around the 1770s and had spread across class
boundaries to become a very popular home entertainment in the 19th century, as literature
and art testify. English literature furnished famous examples of charades in Bronte’s Jane
Eyre (1847) and Thackeray’s Vanity Fair (1847-48). Leopold Kupelwieser’s well-known
painting from 1821 shows Schubert seated at the piano observing his friends as they
perform a charade representing the Garden of Eden (reproduced in Brown, 1980, Vol. 16,
In a letter of 1832 to Clara, Schumann described himself as her “old moon-struck
inventor of charades… During your absence I was in Arabia so that I could tell lots of
fairy tales that you might like – six new Doppelgänger stories, 101 charades…”
(Schumann & Schumann, 1994, p. 1). This was a response to her delight in charades
recorded in Schumann’s diary in 1831: “Then we came to charades and riddles, now that
was a pleasure, a laugh, a squeal of delight from Zilia [Clara]” (Klassen, 1990, p. 31, note
The postlude of Die gute Nacht is an important and relatively long allusion in the
style described by Wieck-Schumann as an “obvious reminiscence” or “evocative
allusion” in the diary entry on her March. The story line created by allusion in the song is
not so far removed in kind from the narrative train of thought leading to the March
allusions: “first trio…the peaceful mood of the grandparents surrounded by their children
is so charmingly expressed in the music…second trio…nostalgic recollection of a happy
past, of youthful love…the melody of Manfred…engraved in my heart” (Nauhaus, 1996,
p. 5). In this sense the music can be viewed as programmatic, with a descriptive element
which is essential to a full understanding of the work’s implications.1
Like Berlioz’s Harold in Italy, there are autobiographical layers of meaning
beneath the publicly acknowledged program. As Agawu observed: “Romantic music …
often prefers a break with the outside world by entering into private biographical realms
in which the cryptic sign holds the key to meaning in the musical work” (cited in
Reynolds, 2003, p. 10).
It is highly probable that the postlude allusion is intentional. Wieck-Schumann
retained a special love for Schumann’s Frauenliebe cycle: op. 42/4 was one of WieckSchumann’s four favourite songs at the end of her life (Litzmann, 1979, Vol. 2, p. 435).
She also made solo piano transcriptions of songs from Frauenliebe (Nos. 2 and 5 are
available at www.imslp.org). Again, Die gute Nacht was not an isolated example, as there
are allusions to Schumann songs in a number of her works (see Example 6.54). The case
Liszt viewed Schumann as a writer of covert program music: “in his pianoforte compositions [Schumann]
most completely grasped the significance of the program and gave the most splendid examples of its
employment” (1994, p. 358).
for the allusion and its resultant alteration of the song’s meaning is strengthened by the
fact that Die gute Nacht and Schumann’s op. 42/7 are the same genre and share postludes
with material imported from outside the songs they complete. Although the poem itself is
gender-neutral and has been recorded by a male singer (Stephan Loges: see C.
Schumann, 2002, CD), if the reading in this thesis is accepted, the song is one for a
woman to sing.
Just as motifs had become signifiers and symbols “intended to transmit
information between a sender and a receiver” (Tarasti, 2002, p. 65) and were used
expressively by Wieck-Schumann, allusions were used in an analogous way to create
unique and initially unsuspected meanings in her music.
Am Strande. A rhythmic and contour modelling of Schumann
Rhythmic modellings are not uncommon. For instance, it can be seen that Brahms
modelled the duple meter dactylic rhythm ( ¯ ˇ ˇ ) as well as the block-chords in his Eb
Rhapsodie op. 119/4 on No. 5 of Schubert’s Moments musicaux. An analogous instance is
found in Wieck-Schumann with a much clearer motive behind her choice of model.
In her song Am Strande (December 1840), Wieck-Schumann modelled the rhythm
and general contours of the piano accompaniment and vocal opening on the piano
introduction of Der Nussbaum op. 25/3, given to her a few months previously by
Schumann as one of his bride-gift songs. The speeds and character of the two songs are
completely different. In Am Strande, no notes are directly quoted from Schumann’s song;
arpeggios are more widely spaced and the piano’s opening melodic contour is her rising
fourth motif, not Schumann’s initial fifth. The motif’s development in the song is shown
in Example 6.23:
Example 6. 22. Wieck-Schumann, Am Strande; Schumann, Der Nussbaum, openings.
Although at first the minor-key turbulence of Am Strande (On the Shore) seems
totally unlike the dreamily static Der Nussbaum, the exact rhythmic modelling prompts a
closer investigation for parallels. The reason for the modelling is found in the texts of
both songs which share the words ‘whisper’ and ‘dreams’ of the beloved. Am Strande has
the lines “only in dreams do spirits ... whisper tidings from my beloved,” and near the end
of Der Nussbaum come the words “they whisper about a bridegroom…the maiden sinks
smilingly off into sleep and dreams.” The aim appears to have been to establish and
underline the aspect of love in Am Strande while graphically depicting the peril of the
ocean and the turmoil of feelings experienced by the lover left on the shore.
Both songs share the rising fourth motif associated with love in their vocal lines.
Schumann introduced the motif into Der Nussbaum in bars 7-8. The contour in bars 3-4
does not qualify, as it does not conform to Wieck-Schumann’s rising fourth motif types
which begin on the fifth scale degree and accent the interval of the fourth. Am Strande
opens in Eb minor, a key endowing the ‘love’ motifs of bars 1 and 7-8 with the mingled
sentiments of love and of fear for the safety of the beloved across the sea. To reflect the
more hopeful outlook of the last verse, the music changes mode from the anxioussounding Eb minor to Eb major, the key of “love’s magic” in Liebeszauber op. 13/3. The
rising fourth motif’s rhythm also undergoes changes from its initial angular downwards
leap to stepwise descents in smoothly flowing quavers by bar 35:
Example 6. 23. Wieck-Schumann, Am Strande, rising fourth motif, bars 1, 7-8, 35-36.
That the singer enters with a ‘Clara’ theme has already been mentioned (see
Example 3.17). The juxtaposition of both ‘Clara’ and rising fourth motifs may suggest an
autobiographical involvement – in this case separation from the beloved – like that
discussed in Ihr Bildnis/op. 13/1.
Wieck-Schumann did not sustain the rhythmic modelling throughout the song.
Where Schumann’s Der Nussbaum has unvarying groups of six semiquavers to create a
placid atmosphere, Wieck-Schumann’s rapid accompaniment eddies and swirls freely,
with the figuration changing to groupings of five, six, seven or eight semiquavers per
beat. The uneven rhythmic groups effectively guide the interpretation through written-out
rubati, subtly slowing the sense of movement in some bars and seemingly moving it
forward in others. Am Strande bears some comparison with Schumann’s modelling of his
Berg’ und Burgen op. 24/7 on the trio of Chopin’s first Scherzo op. 20 in technique, but
Wieck-Schumann’s song is almost unrecognisably removed from its model in musical
effect, particularly by its speed and minor key. Again, this would support a private
motivation and personal meaning behind the modelling, turning it to her own
Romance op. 21/2. A quotation underpinning a whole composition
The quotation by Wieck-Schumann of Schumann’s Wiegenliedchen (Little cradle
song) op. 124/6 (1843) as the theme for her Romance op. 21/2 (1853) is not mentioned in
the literature. Although Hohenemser had noticed a general reminiscence of Schumann in
the Romance, he did not discover that a specific reference was the reason for it (1905-6,
p. 172). He may have sensed the likeness to the rhythm of the staccato chords in
Schumann’s Soldier’s March op. 68/2 - perhaps an intentional secondary resemblance by
Wieck-Schumann to strengthen the reference to children made through the
The Romance is formed of continuous re-castings of the Wiegenliedchen theme to
create a work much more sophisticated than the quotation’s source. Its skilfully assured
handling is an example of how “the act of appropriating an idea (motive) could be a
creative rather than an imitative act” (Reynolds, 2003, p. 116). Schumann’s
Wiegenliedchen theme is appropriated so successfully that a listener’s hearing of it is
likely to change, which is Korsyn’s proposed measure of the new work’s strength (1991,
p. 44). The Romance op. 21/2 also provides a convincing example of Korsyn’s idea of a
composer being inspired to realise the unused possibilities and additional dimensions
perceived in another’s composition (p. 26).
Schumann presumably composed Wiegenliedchen for their second child, Elise,
born in April of the year it was written. Für Elise as a title was already famously taken.
He had written Schlummerlied for their first child two years beforehand, a piece which
Wieck-Schumann had quoted in her Sonata. Her quotation of Wiegenliedchen seems
intended as a general family reference, especially as her letters and diaries record how
much her children meant to her. That such great motherly love was found in a worldfamous artist was described by her daughter Eugenie as “nothing short of a miracle: I
should say unique” (1985, p. 55).
The enchantment and gentle happiness of this Romance, so unlike the dark mood
of the Romances opp. 21/1, 21/3 and the one originally intended as op. 21/1, are
explained when Schumann’s Wiegenliedchen theme is recognised. A relationship to
Wiegenliedchen as a family tribute provides a purpose for the quotation and accounts for
the piece’s playfulness, a rare quality in Wieck-Schumann’s works. Lightness is further
suggested by the directive “sehr zart zu spielen” (to be played very sweetly) and the
change from the legato of Wiegenliedchen to detached notes through almost all of the
Romance. With its material coming from an outside source, the Romance op. 21/2 does
not relate musically to the other pieces in its set, although opp. 21/1 and 21/3 have
thematic relationships to each other (see Example 3.58).
Not surprisingly in a cradle song, the theme is a variant of the ‘Kinderszenen’
motif, separately labelled by Sams as Motif 1 in Schumann, the contentment motif taken
from Perfect happiness op. 15/5 (1993, p. 11):
Example 6. 24. Sams, Motif 1 in Schumann.
Op. 21/2 begins with the quotation of the first ten melodic notes of
Wiegenliedchen transposed down a tone. By omitting Schumann’s eleventh note, WieckSchumann avoided the phrase ending and extended the idea into a type of moto perpetuo
continuous variation. Her subtle re-positioning of the theme at the half bar while the bass
remains on the first beat also avoids the original’s two-bar sections, as cadences are deemphasised, and fall on the weaker beat of the bar. In Example 6.25, Wiegenliedchen is
also transposed to F for comparison with the Romance below it:
Example 6. 25. Schumann, Wiegenliedchen op. 124/6, bars 1-6; transposed.
Example 6. 26. Wieck-Schumann, Romance op. 21/2, bars 1-11.
Allegretto. Sehr zart zu spielen
The unceasing phrase successions, all based on contours of the first four bars,
produce a charming effect like that of a kitten chasing its tail. Imitation of a variant of the
first four notes of the theme, bouncing between the registers from bar 24, adds to the
sense of playful chase. It prepares for a fuller imitation from bars 31-34 of seven notes in
the tenor moving in a see-saw undulation of contrary motion movement:
Example 6. 27. Wieck-Schumann, Romance op. 21/2, bars 27-35.
Unpredictability gives the Romance freshness and charm. The original simple
idea of Wiegenliedchen is given unexpected harmonic shifts, phrase-length flexibility and
melodic extensions to suggest an ‘endless melody.’ Like the middle of the Toccatina op.
6/1, the Romance has no sectional or melodic breaks to check its continuous crotchet
pulse until bar 51. There are several chromatic descents including an extensive link into
the very short four-bar reprise and another which begins the coda immediately after.
Just as the Sonata movement in which Wieck-Schumann quotes Schlummerlied
outstrips its original musically, the Romance op. 21/2 far exceeds its source. Although
modesty may have been a factor in the choice of these lesser Schumann works as
quotation material, it is clear that they had special meaning for her. Such unassuming
pieces by Schumann appealed to Biedermeier taste for domestic music, as the success of
his Kinderszenen op. 15 testified. Wieck-Schumann’s Romance provided something
more; that “return to innocence, a recovery of origins, but on a higher level” to which
Korsyn referred (1991, p. 42).
Romance in B minor (1856). A summary of motifs, allusions and meanings
“…the artist should endeavour to follow every trace that leads him to the more secret
workshop of a master” (Schumann, 1947, p. 103).
The Romance in B minor was Wieck-Schumann’s last composition, except for the
duet March written nearly a quarter of a century later. She gave an autograph copy with
the date Christmas 1856 to Brahms some months after Schumann’s death (Reich, 2001,
pp. 235, 326). The Romance through its many quotations and allusions is a meditative
retrospective of the Schumanns’ life together. Recognised as a ‘deeply moving’ work
(Gates, 1992. p. 139), it is a tombeau for Schumann who never left the asylum after
February 1854 and died there in July 1856.
A number of writers have claimed that the descending thirds theme from bars 3-4
is an allusion to the second movement of Brahms’s Piano Sonata op. 5 written in 1853
(Reich, 2001, p. 235; Sams, 1978, p. 1059). Klassen suggested that it alluded also to an
inner melody of descending thirds in bar 12 of Wieck-Schumann’s Romance op. 21/1 of
1855 (1990, pp. 105-106) which better accounts for the dark mood. An investigation
confirms that Brahms’s Sonata second movement was unlikely to have been the only
source for the 1856 Romance theme which drew instead on allusions from many works
with descending thirds motifs. Just as the Manfred allusions were only one part of the
allusions in Wieck-Schumann’s March, several song allusions appear in the Romance,
evidently chosen for their text associations.1
The advantage of Wieck-Schumann’s method of melody formation-by-motif was
its flexibility and chameleon-like quality of hinting at and alluding to many associations
at once – intentionally, as the March makes clear. As such a theme is heard, it creates its
own complex environment through layers of reference and affinity. In this way, the
richness incorporated into one short Romance is astonishing.
Whether any specific musical allusions are recognised or not, the many ‘affects’
marshalled for eloquent communication in the Romance suggest that it is a deeply
Wieck-Schumann’s interest in reminiscences was indirectly noted by Brahms. In December 1855, just a
year before she wrote the Romance in B minor, he mentioned a reminiscence of Bach’s Musicalisches
Opfer in the Adagio of Schumann’s Symphony in C op. 61, which he thought would interest her if she did
not already know of it (Schumann & Brahms, 1979, Vol. 1, p. 58).
autobiographical document. The tragic tone of the outer sections is realised in a number
of ways. The key of B minor is symbolic of death, shared as it is with works like Bach’s
B minor Mass. Its opening bass also descends chromatically, like the Crucifixus from
Bach’s Mass, with the sombre mood reinforced by the descending lines which join it.
Beethoven considered B minor a ‘black’ key (Steblin, 1996, p. 146) which he used only
twice. Wieck-Schumann had not chosen B minor for a work since her op. 5 pieces: first
for the minor mode-altered reprise, marked ‘dolente,’ of the Romance op. 5/3, and then
for the Scène fantastique: Le ballet des revenants (Ballet of the ghosts) op. 5/4, which
had links to Schumann who quoted from it. Possibly a ghost/death association through
key choice is intentional in the Romance.
The opening four bars of the work are separated into two parts. Bars 1-2 combine
chromatic descents with a rising fifth and the b6-5 motif, marked <>. Only the pedal B is
on the beat with the harmony and melody moving off the beat. Bars 3-4 introduce the
descending thirds motif-theme with a descending accompaniment of broken-thirds. With
its variants, the descending thirds theme appears in nearly half the ninety bars of the
Romance, treated in the recurring manner of the allied ‘link’ motif in her Sonata’s first
Example 6. 28. Wieck-Schumann, Romance (1856), bars 1-5.
Some of the proposed sources and reminiscences found in the Romance are listed
and discussed below:
Part of Brahms’s Sonata op. 5 slow movement theme in Ab major is quoted in bar
14 of the Romance. Four notes of its descending thirds theme with its parallel broken-
thirds accompaniment are repeated in bar 70 (there are only three melodic arpeggio notes
in common in bar 3):
Example 6. 29. Wieck-Schumann, Romance (1856), bars 13-15.
Example 6. 30. Brahms, Sonata op. 5, second movement, bars 1-4.
A purpose behind the brief Brahms quotation would be to import its poem as a
text along with the music, since it bears the following Sternau epigraph:
Der Abend dämmert, das Mondlicht scheint,
Da sind zwei Herzen in Liebe vereint
Und halten sich selig umfangen.
The evening darkens, the moonlight shines,
As two hearts are united in love
And embrace each other blissfully.
Brahms’s theme is clearly a love theme portraying the poem’s united hearts: every
second semiquaver note of the left hand’s broken thirds meets in octave unison with the
right hand melody. The second theme from bar 11 of Brahms’s slow movement is based
on Schumann’s song Mondnacht to judge by the mood, his epigraph’s words and time of
day, the portamento staccato chordal accompaniment and melodic contour like the song’s
bars 2-3. Another allusion to the epigraph poem follows later in the movement with
Brahms’s citation of another song of night, Steh ich in finstrer Mitternacht (I stand in
darkest midnight), at the Andante molto (Kraus, 1988, p. 32). Both songs are nocturnes:
by alluding to Brahms’s movement as well as to some Schumann songs of sorrow,
Wieck-Schumann could turn the motifs and elements comprising the outer section of her
Romance into the darkest of nocturnes.
An allusion to Brahms’s Sonata would become analogous to her procedure in Trio
II of her 1879 March, when “sad memories of happy days gone by came over me, of the
love of my youth, and then the air from Manfred came to me” (Litzmann, 1979, Vol. 2, p.
Brahms’s op. 5 theme could have been chosen by Wieck-Schumann as a motif
because of the personal appropriateness of its text to the Schumann marriage, then been
transformed into the minor mode for the opening of her Romance. In the same way, she
had used her rising fourth motif-theme in both major and minor modes to reflect mood
change in Volkslied and Am Strande.
As Brahms’s works included many influences and modellings (see Rosen, 1980;
Korsyn, 1991; John, 2003), his Sonata’s second movement would have been written with
the awareness of many Schumann compositions. Its musical antecedents possibly
included Schumann’s Piano Concerto op. 54 with the descending third motif found in the
second movement bars 11-12 onwards. Nauhaus linked this motif with the first
movement bar 67 in Wieck-Schumann’s Piano Sonata.
While the Brahms quotation in bar 14 of the Romance is only four melodic notes
long, six notes in bars 13-14 of the Romance in B minor are found in Wieck-Schumann’s
Violin Romance op. 22/2. The six notes appear in the violin in bar 41 as part of a melodic
quotation of one of her passionately-loved works, Schumann’s Piano Concerto second
Example 6. 31. Wieck-Schumann, Romance (1856), bars 13-15; Violin Romance op. 22/2, bars 39-46.
Example 6. 32. Schumann, Piano Concerto op. 54, second movement, bars 6-8.
The fascination of the 1856 Romance lies in the many threads it draws together
by its subtle allusions. As an alternative to the Brahms Sonata derivation, the Romance
theme could have origins in a Schumann song matching its character more closely. Either
Mignon (Kennst du das Land?) or Herzeleid (Heartbreak) would provide the 1856
Romance with a powerful sub-set of implied texts reflecting the burden of the Romance.
Each opens with the descending third motif, termed Motif 24 by Sams, signifying grief
and death in Schumann works (1993, p. 16). With the addition of one of her typical
suspensions, the Romance bars 3-4 can be heard as quoting the opening of Schumann’s
song Mignon op. 79/29 (1849. The usual edition numbering is op. 79/29; the Grove
numbering is op. 79/28):
Example 6. 33. Schumann, Mignon op. 79/29, bars 1-5.
The intention may have been to cross-reference the ‘land of the dead’ in Mignon
with the frequent wish of the widowed to follow their partners into death: “Do you know
the land…? There! There I would like to go with you, O my love.” Wieck-Schumann
wrote of her grief in 1861: “that is why I do continue to live. The children have kept me
alive, but for them all would have been over long ago” (Litzmann, 1979, Vol. 2, p. 196).
Mignon provided a suitable reference because of its mixture of longing and sorrow.
Mignon also has recurring sections with a triplet semiquaver accompaniment often in G
major, as does the Romance’s G major middle section:
Example 6. 34. Schumann, Mignon op. 79/29, bars 18-20.
Example 6. 35. Wieck-Schumann, Romance (1856), bars 31-33.
The Romance theme recalls the descending thirds accompaniment of Schumann’s
Herzeleid (Heartbreak) op. 107/1 (1851) which shares Mignon’s opening motif and a
similar character of grief. Herzeleid “is about death by suicide and death by drowning”
(Sams, 1993, p. 6). It is in E minor with a B pedal point, just as the Romance begins
aurally as if it is in E minor with a B pedal:
Example 6. 36. Schumann, Herzeleid op. 107/1, bars 1-3.
A similar thirds motif falling over an octave span in the piano accompaniment
signifies hopelessness in the middle section of Schumann’s song Resignation op. 83/1:
Example 6. 37. Schumann, Resignation op. 83/1, bars 18-20.
Descending arpeggios and the off-beat semiquavers of bars 2 and 4 of
Schumann’s song Mondnacht suggest it may have been a background inspiration for the
1856 Romance as well as for Brahms’s Sonata slow movement. The Romance’s left hand
opening combines two elements from Mondnacht; its B pedal from bars 5-6 and its
chromatic descent from bars 1-2. A later version in bar 47 of the opening of Mondnacht
actually has the same notes F#-D-B as bar 3 of the Romance. The broken thirds
accompaniment of bar 3 in the Romance – as well as the Brahms – is simply an
arpeggiation of Schumann’s double thirds accompaniment, ringed in the Example below:
Example 6. 38. Schumann, Mondnacht op. 39/5, bars 47-51.
There is the slight possibility that the Romance contains a cipher. Schumann drew
attention to the word ‘Ehe’ (marriage in German; H=B in the German scale) as a very
musical word in a letter to Clara, which he notated as follows (Schumann & Schumann,
1994, p. 149):
Example 6. 39. Schumann’s ‘Ehe;’ Wieck-Schumann, Romance (1856), bars 1-2.
Schumann’s notation of ‘Ehe’
The opening right hand notes of the last Romance are E-B, a broken-off ‘Ehe.’ It
is generally accepted that Schumann embedded ‘Ehe’ into the bass of his song
Mondnacht (Sams, 1993, p. 98).1
There are several reasons for supposing that the notes in the Romance may refer
to the sundering of the marriage through the death of Schumann a few months before.
They include the symbology of the broken word Eh-, broken heart, broken rhythms on
the offbeat in the opening and later in the rhythmically offset duet of bars 21-22. These
notes are less a theme than a leitmotif, as Wieck-Schumann pointed out in regard to the
last movement opening of Brahms’s Fourth Symphony (Schumann & Brahms, 1979, Vol.
2, p. 102). Unlike the falling fifth, a rising fifth is an unusual melodic feature in WieckSchumann’s music. As well, the opening of the Romance sounds as if it is in E minor.
The first melody notes E-B are perceived as scale degrees 1 and 5 because a harmonic
opening of subdominant to tonic would be unexpected, although Wieck-Schumann in fact
had used it in other works.2
The repeated tenor B sounds like a dominant pedal of a tonic E minor, with the
chromatic descent beneath it blurring the tonal sense. When the opening material returns
at bar 19 and in the reprise at bar 57, B minor is confirmed as the desired overall key,
Schumann had continued embedding ciphers into his music at least until a few years before the Romance
was written. For example, his D minor Violin Sonata op. 121 (written 1851) encoded the name DAFD
(David) for Ferdinand David in its theme (Roesner, 2007, p. 137).
Other first themes sounding this way include the opening of the trio of op. 1/3 (key signature of g,
cadences in c), the first version of Sie liebten sich beide until bar 4, and the first few bars of the
Konzertsatz. Given the character of each of these works, presumably the reason lies in the darker colouring
of the flat side of the key.
perhaps for its black associations. The melodic phrase is transposed from E-B down to BF#, above an F# pedal:
Example 6. 40. Wieck-Schumann, Romance (1856), bars 55-58.
A melodic E-B is repeated near the end. As shown in the example below, the
words “Loving memories/ Clara” appear at the end of the Romance autograph,
confirming the work as a memorial:
Example 6. 41. Wieck-Schumann, Romance (1856), bars 85-90.
The middle section of the Romance introduces a mood of consolation. Gentle
reminiscences of a happier past are heard with the rising-and-falling fifth motif found in
various compositions by the Schumanns. Examples in Schumann’s works are the
Romance op. 28/1 bars 62-63 using diminished fifths, and the wedding day song in
Frauenliebe op. 42/5 bars 27-28 using perfect fifths. In Wieck-Schumann’s songs, this
motif is associated with several meanings including roses in both Ich hab’ in deinem
Auge op. 13/5 bar 11 and Was weinst du, Blümlein op. 23/1 bar 38. The expressive minor
seconds in the bass of bar 33 are one of many bitter-sweet affects in the Romance:
Example 6. 42. Wieck-Schumann, Romance (1856), bars 31-34.
Bars 81-82 mark the longest quotation in the work, of Schumann’s
Wiegenliedchen op. 124/6 in its original key of G. As illustrated earlier, WieckSchumann had quoted its first ten notes in her Romance op. 21/2 in F. In the 1856
Romance, the seven notes quoted are the exact ones, transposed back to Schumann’s
original key of G, with which she ended op. 21/2:
Example 6. 43. Schumann, Wiegenliedchen op. 124/6, bars 1-4.
Example 6. 44. Wieck-Schumann, Romance (1856), bars 81-83; Romance op. 21/2, bars 62-64.
Schumann’s bass in Wiegenliedchen moves by tenths in tandem with the theme,
like the Romance in bar 14 (Example 6.29) and the Brahms slow movement theme. It
could have been Wiegenliedchen that triggered memories of the Brahms or vice versa.
The statement that “Nostalgia may float illusions of intimacy but it prefaces and
closes them with statements of loss” (Metzer, 2003, p. 21) rings true of the whole
atmosphere of the Romance. It supports the idea that the multi-faceted allusions of the
opening may include intentional references to Schumann’s songs Herzeleid and Mignon.
The quotation from Wiegenliedchen may refer to another loss; that of Robert as father of
a family of young children. Felix was born in 1854 when Schumann was already in the
asylum. The photo of a clearly devastated Clara taken after Robert’s admission to the
asylum makes clear that any connection to the atmosphere of happy love in Brahms’s
piece, and the poem on which it was based, was only in the nature of a painful
remembrance of lost love, as in her March Trio II allusions to Manfred.
Illustration 1. Wieck-Schumann, 1854 photo (Commons.Wikimedia).
One reason for the decades-long break in composition following the Romance
may be found in Metzer’s view about “nostalgia … leaving the present desolate and in
even more need of the past” (2003, p. 119), as would be the case for Wieck-Schumann in
1856 in the grief of the loss of Robert. It would have been psychologically unhealthy to
dwell on such emotions and repeat them constantly in further compositions - and all
accounts, including her own, agree that her grief remained fresh for years (Hofmann,
1996, p. 149). By the time the March was written in 1879, the borrowing of and alluding
to Schumann’s work takes place in a quite different, reconciled spirit where the present
has became melded less painfully with the past.
The evidence of the March and other works suggests that Wieck-Schumann
intended her music to relate to Schumann and his works. As with the March, quotation
and allusion in the 1856 Romance create a treasure trove of the past where all the layers
are perceptible as influences to be read into the present.
Of memorable expressions of grief in Western music, some are more
transcendental, such as Bach’s St. Matthew Passion and Liszt’s Mater Dolorosa from the
oratorio Christus, and some are more personal like this Romance, but all touch on the
sorrow inherent in human life and can provide a cathartic experience of its depths. With
no contrived or overt gestures, the Romance has an honest and vulnerable directness in
the expression of sorrow that, in the opinion of this writer, has seldom been achieved.
Quotations shared between the Schumanns
Brahms writing of Robert and Clara Schumann: “They were united in life just as closely
as they were in art” (Schumann & Brahms, 1979, Vol. 2, p. 18).
Works like Wieck-Schumann’s opp. 3, 20 and 22/1 demonstrate the tangled web
of quotation and counter-quotation between the Schumanns. They show that, as with
motifs, a citation may be only one link in a long chain whose beginning can be hard to
verify. Moreover, such intricate relationships reveal the pleasure the Schumanns
evidently took in contriving quotations and reminiscences to be appreciated by those who
could understand. As Schumann had written to Moscheles in 1837, “deciphering my
masked ball [Carnaval] will be a real game for you” (cited in Daverio, 2007, p. 72).
Wieck-Schumann’s Variations op. 20 exhibit a great number of relationships to
other works. There are at least eight levels of inter-quotation or inter-textuality, the last
two with works of Brahms:
Wieck-Schumann wrote Variations on a theme by Robert Schumann op. 20.
Its theme is Schumann’s Bunte Blätter op. 99/4.
Schumann’s op. 99/4 theme is a ‘Clara’ theme, as its final bars 21-24 clearly
It is very close to the type of ‘Clara’ theme quoted by Schumann in his Sonata op.
14 slow movement (Example 3.5).
Wieck-Schumann fashioned an ingenious quotation of her Romance variée op. 3
theme in the tenor voice of op. 20 from bar 204, beneath Schumann’s theme in the
Example 6. 45. Wieck-Schumann, Variations op. 20, bars 203-211.
She quoted her op. 3 because it was the first work from which Schumann had
formally acknowledged quoting her music. His quotation was made in his op. 5
Impromptus on a theme by Clara Wieck.
In recent years it has been established that the intervalically awkward theme of
her op. 3 was one Schumann had first sketched in 1830 (Reich, 2001, pp. 222223). The leaping bass in his Impromptus op. 5 exacerbates the angularity of the
melody which had been smoothed by Wieck-Schumann’s more elegant pedal-note
bass in her op. 3. It may follow the different bass in Schumann’s first sketch of
the theme which has been reproduced in Becker (1981, p. 572).
Brahms’s op. 9 Variations, like Wieck-Schumann’s op. 20, are based on the same
Schumann piece, Bunte Blätter op. 99/4, itself based on a ‘Clara’ theme.
Klassen incorrectly stated that the op. 3 quotation in op. 20 was altered to the form in Schumann’s op. 5
(1990, p. 68); but bars 206-207 in op. 20 use the variant form of op. 3’s Brillante variation bars 38-39.
Brahms quoted nine notes of Wieck-Schumann’s op. 3 theme in Variation X of
his op. 9, confirmed in a letter to Joachim in September 1854 (Reich, 2001, p.
313). Both Wieck-Schumann and Brahms added the quote from her op. 3 after
their autograph copies were otherwise completed (pp. 313-314).1
Drei Romanzen op. 22 for violin and piano
Another case of a long history behind an accepted quotation by Wieck-Schumann
can be uncovered in the Violin Romance op. 22/1 (1853). While the Three Romances of
op. 22 could be expected to display an element of virtuosity, as they were written for
Joachim and dedicated to him, instead they fit the mould of ‘songs without words.’ The
piano part of the third piece is demanding but should be considered as ‘art that is
concealed by art’. Contrapuntal treatment is characteristic of each of the three Romances,
especially the first. Schumann citations appear in each.
Chissell mentioned without further details that the opening motif of Schumann’s
Violin Sonata op. 105 (1852) was quoted in the first Romance (1983, p. 118). It appears
at the central section’s climax:
Example 6. 46. Schumann, Violin Sonata op. 105, bars 1-2 and 168-71.
It is possible the quotation was the result of a friendly contrapuntal ‘competition,’ such as Brahms was to
suggest to her and later carry out with Joachim (see Avens, 1997, p. 123). In their Variations on the same
Schumann theme, Brahms devised several canons and Wieck-Schumann wrote one variation in canon at the
fifth and the octave.
Example 6. 47. Wieck-Schumann, Violin Romance op. 22/1, bars 32-36.
Again, the examination of motifs sheds more light on both works. Since
Schumann’s Sonata begins with the notes of the rising fourth motif which WieckSchumann employed frequently from op. 1/3 onwards, it seems very likely that
Schumann was in fact quoting Wieck-Schumann, in this case, her song Mein Stern (My
star, 1846). One of the most characteristic phrases of the song returns three times and is
set in bars 23-25 to the words “with loving greetings.” Quoted in his op. 105, the phrase
would be an auspicious message with which to begin a Sonata for “Pianoforte and
Violin” for Clara to perform.
Example 6. 48. Wieck-Schumann, Mein Stern, bars 22-25.
In Mein Stern the harmony moves from an F minor chord to Db, a progression of
i-VI6 which is matched in the Romance op. 22/1 motif and Schumann’s Sonata. The
motif’s notes therefore occur on the same scale degrees in each work. All three have
similar arpeggiated piano accompaniments. Schumann used the same notes in bars 7-8 of
the Cello Concerto (1850) with the leap of the fourth on the downbeat and at a phrase end
as in Mein Stern:
Example 6. 49. Schumann, Cello Concerto, first movement, bars 5-8.
The quotation Chissell pointed out in Wieck-Schumann’s Romance op. 22/1
therefore appears to be a case of citation shared by the two Schumanns in various works.
It could be argued that the rising fourth motif had become a family by-word, like
references to angels and stars. Mein Stern undoubtedly was such a personal reference for
Wieck-Schumann, especially as the voice opens with three notes from Schumann’s
autobiographical Kreisleriana op. 16/7 bars 89-90. She was fond of Mein Stern and
“wrote it as an album leaf many times” (Reich, 2001, p. 240). Robert referred to her as
the star of his life in his tender answering song Mein schöner Stern! op. 101/4 of 1849
(see Sams, 1993, p. 215). Clara later wrote to Eugenie: “May our dear one [Robert] be
your pole-star!” (E. Schumann, 1985, p. 48).
The written evidence makes it clear that the Schumanns described their lives in
words which resonated from the poetry they had collected over the years for musical
settings. Images from their songs became part of their lived experience.
In her Violin Romance op. 22/1 the motif in bar 32 is first presented in inversion
as a preparation for and lead-in to the culmination of the phrase in bars 35-37, where the
quotation ends a subsection. The accent in bar 35 corresponds with the downbeat on the
same motif’s upward-leaping fourth in Mein Stern (Example 6.48):
Example 6. 50. Wieck-Schumann, Violin Romance op. 22/1, bars 32-37.
The rising fourth motif reappears later in the Romance op. 22/1, for example in
the piano-violin exchanges in bars 67-70 and in the violin melody of bars 58-59:
Example 6. 51. Wieck-Schumann, Violin Romance op. 22/1, bars 58-59.
In the third Violin Romance op. 22/3, the rising fourth motif appears in bars 48-49
with the same accent it had in the first movement bar 35 and in the same position at the
end of a phrase. It provides another example of Wieck-Schumann’s use of thematic recall
to unify a set:
Example 6. 52. Wieck-Schumann, Violin Romance op. 22/3, bars 48-49.
In view of other Schumann quotations in the two Violin Romances, the central
section theme of op. 22/2, as illustrated earlier in Example 6.31, seems likely to be an
intentional quotation of the slow movement of Schumann’s Concerto op. 54.1 The
Romance quotes the Concerto’s piano part from bar 9, later given to the cello in bars 3032. The theme begins after the double bar in bar 39, decorated with the neighbour note
Example 6. 53. Wieck-Schumann, Violin Romance op. 22/2, bars 39-42.
Among other allusions, the Romance op. 22/3 ends with a reminiscence of
Schumann’s Widmung (Dedication) the first song in his op. 25 bridal gift to Clara. After
modelling the general harmonic descent of the song’s postlude, the Romance quotes the
It can be added to Wieck-Schumann’s other allusions to Schumann’s Concerto in works such as op. 15/3
and the Trio op. 17.
voice’s last four notes ending with a falling fifth (“mein bess’res Ich!”). Apart from this
quotation, a falling fifth is an unusual final interval for a Wieck-Schumann melody. The
op. 22/1 and 22/2 melodies finish in her usual stepwise fashion before the final chord
Example 6. 54. Wieck-Schumann, Violin Romance op. 22/3, bars 113-117.
Example 6. 55. Schumann. Widmung op. 25/1, bars 38-41.
Robert Schumann, Studien op. 56. Tributes to Clara Wieck-Schumann
“Many are too conservative in their approach to the difficult question as to how far
instrumental music may go in the presentation of thoughts and events” (Schumann, 1947,
Although quotations of Wieck-Schumann’s works by other composers properly
belong in a separate study, the present thesis would not be complete without an example
of the use of her themes in a work by each of the composers who quoted her most
frequently, Schumann and Brahms.
Schumann left ample evidence that he was the musical counterpart of the
archetypal carver of hearts and initials onto tree trunks. He placed his musical initials and
the name of the town where his first fiancée lived into the Sphinxes in Carnaval op. 9,
and placed ‘Clara’ motifs into many other works. His quotations of Clara’s themes can be
explained by the fact that they represented her musically and physically: “everything is
connected, belongs together and harmonizes in you so that I can’t even imagine you
without your music – and so I love the one along with the other” (Schumann &
Schumann, 1994, p. 131). He felt there was a spiritual and musical communication
between them all through their life together from 1832: “I sometimes hear music in my
dreams – that is, when you are composing!” (translation in Burton, 1988, p. 219).
This attitude informs Schumann’s Studien für den Pedal-Flügel op. 56 (1845)
consisting of six pieces in canonic form for pedal-piano. Containing a number of citations
not hitherto identified in the literature, the Studien illustrate the breadth of his musical
references to Wieck-Schumann. There is considerable evidence that allusions throughout
his Studien form a succession of tributes to her in her roles as a composer, an excellent
contrapuntalist, one of the greatest performers in Western music history, and his beloved
wife. Op. 56 should not be dismissed as an obscure work in which to honour her, partly
because of the importance Schumann attached to his contrapuntal compositions. He
believed, mistakenly, that his organ fugues op. 60 would be considered his greatest work
(Marston, 2007, p. 57), and would have regarded his Studien op. 56 as worthy tributes
because of the fine blending of musical and contrapuntal skill they exhibit.1
Schumann incorporated his quotations and tributes into op. 56 in the confident
expectation that Wieck-Schumann would perform the work in some form, for not only
was she his “right hand” (Schumann & Schumann, 1994, p. 318), but she was also one of
the first to introduce contrapuntal works in public concerts. With his contrapuntal op. 56,
Schumann also honoured her success in performing Bach fugues, which was so great that
she had to encore them at two Vienna concerts in her 1837-38 tour (Litzmann, 1979, Vol.
1, p. 129).
Debussy made a sensitive two-piano arrangement of the whole op. 56 set (Schumann, 1952), which is
more effective than Reinecke’s and Bizet’s four-hand versions.
To further their contrapuntal studies, in April 1845 the Schumanns rented a pedal
footboard attachment to fit beneath their piano and turn it into a pedal-piano. This device
enabled an extra bass line to be added to music composed for pedal-piano. The result was
Schumann’s Studien op. 56 written in May-June, which Wieck-Schumann considered
“will certainly make a great sensation, being something entirely new” (Litzmann, 1979,
Vol. 1, p. 403).
Earlier in the year Wieck-Schumann had proved extremely adept at fugal and
contrapuntal writing when she composed the three Preludes and Fugues op. 16 in three
consecutive days using fugue themes written by Schumann (Reich, 2001, p. 310). He was
proud of her contrapuntal expertise, writing to a publisher about her op. 16 that it was
probably the first time that a woman had attempted “this beautiful but difficult genre,”
and to a friend, “I am sending you the fugues of my Clara; I admit to being very fond of
them” (Reich, 2000, Preface, p. iii).1
The references throughout the Studien op. 56 are drawn from various sources, as
was Schumann’s usual practice: “Everything that happens in the world affects me,
politics, literature, people; I think it all over in my own way, and then it has to find a way
out through music” (cited in Sams, 1993, p.1). There is considerable evidence to support
the case of the Studien as a tribute to Wieck-Schumann. It was clear that Clara was still
particularly associated in Schumann’s mind with the Studien a decade after they were
written. Brahms reported after visiting Schumann in February 1855: “He spoke of you
much and often. How you play ‘wonderfully’ and ‘just sublimely’ e.g. the canons,
especially the ones in A flat and B minor” (Avins, 1997, p. 93).
That Schumann’s Studien op. 56 held a special meaning for Wieck-Schumann is
clear from the fact that she performed her own piano arrangement for almost half a
century from 1846. She performed op. 56/4 in October 1854 on the first concert tour
undertaken to replenish her finances while Robert was hospitalised (Litzmann, 1979, Vol.
2, p. 89). Towards the end of her life when she could play only for a short while each day
because of illness (p. 423), some of the last things she played for friends were Robert’s
canonic Studies (p. 434). At the urging of her daughter Eugenie, in 1895 she finally wrote
Wieck-Schumann was not the first woman to write fugues. A few years earlier, the French pianistcomposer Louise Farrenc had included both fugues and canons in her remarkable Etudes.
down the piano arrangements she had always performed of Studien op. 56 numbers 2, 4,
5, and 6 (Reich, 2001, p. 330).
Studien op. 56/1
Op. 56/1 in C is modelled on the opening of Bach’s Prelude No. 1 Book II from
the 48 Preludes and Fugues. It has descending semiquavers suggesting a ‘Clara’ theme
fall over a long pedal bass. The Bach reference reflects Wieck-Schumann’s great fame as
a Bach player, and perhaps Schumann’s appreciation of the musical possibilities in fugue
form through her persuasive interpretations, as mentioned earlier (May, 1912, p. 155):
Example 6. 56. Schumann arr. Debussy, Studien op. 56/1, bars 1-2.
Studien op. 56/2
Op. 56/2 pays tribute to Wieck-Schumann as a composer because it is a general
modelling of her piano piece op. 15/2 from Quatre pièces fugitives. It is feasible to
propose that it influenced Schumann’s work because in early 1845, some months before
his op. 56 was begun, Wieck-Schumann was correcting proofs for the publication of her
op. 15 (Reich, 2001, p. 309). Schumann had already expressed his admiration for her op.
15 pieces in 1843 (Schumann & Schumann, 1993, p. 185).
There are at least seven parallels in op. 56/2 to Wieck-Schumann’s op. 15/2. They
include the same key of A minor; compound time signatures; counterpoint in both (for
example, in op. 15/2 see the canonic imitation between hands in bars 36-39); a light and
open texture; upward arpeggio endings; likeness of melody; and the typically WieckSchumann chromatic descent in the fourth and fifth last bars of Schumann’s piece.
Studien op. 56/3
No. 3 could be construed as a tribute to Wieck-Schumann since it employs a
rhythm she used in various works such as the Scène fantastique: Le ballet des revenants
op. 5/4 bar 13. It also occurs in the middle section of Romance op. 11/2, a work
Schumann admired. Both works are illustrated in Example 3.79. In addition, op. 56/3 is
in A major, a key Robert wrote that she loved (Schumann & Schumann, 1994, p. 344)
and in which he set the first piece in Bunte Blätter op. 99 with the dedication “To my
beloved fiancée for Christmas Eve, 1838.” Op. 56/3 is also a self-quotation of the
opening of his Quartet op. 41/3 in the same key of A major. J. Lester noted that his
analysis of the Quartet was still compatible with ideas that its falling fifths were a Clara
greeting (1995, p. 210). Moreover, the op. 41 Quartets include allusions to Beethoven’s
An die ferne Geliebte and were presented to Clara on her birthday in 1842 (Roesner,
2007, pp. 128-129).
Studien op. 56/4
Wieck-Schumann took fugue themes by Schumann for her fugue subjects in op.
16. Schumann in turn chose a Wieck-Schumann theme as the subject of his Studien op.
56/4, selecting the middle section of her outstanding Romance op. 11/1 (1838-39; see
Appendix 3). The next Example 6.57 illustrates how closely Schumann modelled his
quotations on Wieck-Schumann’s thematic treatment:
Example 6. 57. Wieck-Schumann, Romance op. 11/1; Schumann, Studien op. 56/4.
Wieck-Schumann, bar 16:
Schumann, bars 1-3:
Schumann, bars 29-30:
Wieck-Schumann, bar 23:
Schumann, bar 48:
Schumann quoted bar 16, the
beginning of the Romance op.
11/1’s middle section which has a
‘Clara’-like theme contour. Because
it is a harmonically closed one-bar
theme, it was ideal for use by
Schumann as a canon subject.
Schumann began his canon with the
same leap of a sixth, a slight change
of rhythm (a normal practice for his
quotations), and the drop of a fourth
instead of a fifth near the end.
appearances to match both her
falling fifth in his bars 29-30 and
significantly for the return of his
section A at bars 43 and 46.
Wieck-Schumann introduced an
ornament to the theme in the eighth
bar of her middle section in bar 23.
Schumann introduced the same
ornament from his ninth bar - one
bar later than hers.
Schumann’s bar 48 shows he
changed the theme to the same
octave leap, with ornament, first
found in Wieck-Schumann’s bars
22 and 23 above.
The middle section of Romance op. 11/1 begins with a character of quiet
contemplation, developing a luminous beauty with the unfolding of the richly detailed
harmonisations and the distant modulation from Gb major to A major by the fifth bar.
Schumann’s op. 56/4 relies on the interweaving of the canon to sustain interest in its first
section which has a harmonic scheme more conventional than Wieck-Schumann’s. From
the coda in bar 57, Schumann reintroduced the demisemiquaver notes from his middle
section into the coda, duplicating Wieck-Schumann’s strategy in her Romances op. 11 of
bringing in patterns from her middle sections to unify the works near their endings.
Studien op. 56/5
Op. 56/5 embodies a quotation from a significant composition which had great
meaning for the Schumanns, Liszt’s Grande fantaisie sur des motifs de La Niobe de
Pacini (1837, a Divertissement on Pacini’s Cavatina “I tuoi palpiti” (Kaczmarczyk, 2004,
p. xv). One of the reasons for its significance was that the Pacini Fantasy was associated
with the career milestone of Wieck-Schumann’s appointment as Imperial Chamber
Virtuosa in Vienna. Her appointment had been preceded not only by her encored Bach
fugue performances, but by what Liszt himself reported as an “unbelievable success”
performing his Pacini Fantasy. Schumann’s diary of March 1838 recorded the great
impression her elevation had made on him: “My Clara has been appointed
Kammermusikerin – this is news I expected, and yet it does not give me any real joy. But
why? Because I am so meagre in comparison to this angel” (Perrey, 2007, p. 19).
Liszt’s Pacini Fantasy already had deep personal associations for the Schumanns.
It was part of Clara’s concert in Leipzig on August 13th 1837 which was to result in the
rapprochement with Robert after a year and a half of separation (May, 1912, pp. 203204). The following day, August 14th, “remained sacred henceforth…as that of their
betrothal” (p. 207).1
Schumann’s canon subject is in the same key as part of Liszt’s Fantasy:
Liszt played the Pacini Fantasy in his ‘contest’ with Thalberg in 1837 (Walker, 1983, p. 238). WieckSchumann’s general success in Vienna was such that the police had to restore order at the box office, and
the Viennese restaurants invented and served a cake named after her (Reich, 2001, p. 56). The quotation in
op. 56/5 of the main theme of the Pacini Fantasy should not be taken as a tribute to Liszt the composer.
Had Schumann intended that, his well-known antipathy to Italian opera would have led him to select
another work by Liszt for that purpose. Besides, he had already dedicated his Phantasie op. 17 to Liszt.
Example 6. 58. Liszt, Pacini Fantasy; Schumann, Studien op. 56/5, compared.
Bars 11-15 of Liszt’s Pacini Fantasy show the basic one-bar repeated pattern:
Schumann took Liszt’s one-bar pattern for his canon op. 56/5, including the
ornament to the first note which adds emphasis. Bars 1-5 are shown in Debussy’s
two-piano arrangement, as it is the easiest in which to see the one-bar canonic
The B minor sections of Liszt’s Pacini Fantasy highlight the debt of Schumann’s
op. 56/5 in B minor. Liszt’s section from bar 48 has the extension of the one-bar cell
to F# and B, as in Schumann’s bar 2.
Liszt bars 47-48:
Schumann, bars 1-2:
Similar metronome speeds are given in complete editions of both composer’s
works of crotchet = 88 for the Liszt and crotchet = 96 for Schumann’s op. 56/5.
Studien op. 56/6
Of all the canonic studies, op. 56/6 has the most markedly intimate tone. It is
based on a quotation or a sharing of the rising fourth motif. The motif, used from WieckSchumann’s op. 1 onwards and associated with love in her songs, is similar to themes of
fourths and seconds which appeared for example in Schumann’s very personal Phantasie
op. 17 and in the “inner voice” of his Humoreske op. 20.
Example 6. 59. Schumann, Studien op. 56/6, bars 1-6.
Just as in Wieck-Schumann’s song Ihr Bildnis/op. 13/1, two motifs are placed
contiguously in op. 56/6. The first, in bars 1-2, is the Type 3 rising fourth motif of
Wieck-Schumann’s Impromptu in E and the song Ich hab’ in deinem Auge op. 13/5 in
which the usual upward fourth leap is replaced by rising steps. The second motif, in bars
3-5, is a ‘Clara’ theme with a halting trochee rhythm replacing the usual suspensions.
Of the short works by Schumann which Wieck-Schumann played most
frequently, one was the Canon op. 124/20 (De Vries, 1996, p. 372). This is unexpected,
as it is a mere twenty bars long. However, the favour in which she held it is less
surprising if she viewed it as a summary and substitute for general audiences of op.
56/6’s sixty-five bars of adagio. As well, the Canon, written in 1845, was a probable
sketch for op. 56/6 and has the same subject of her rising fourth ‘love’ motif in quadruple
Example 6. 60. Schumann, Canon op. 124/20, bars 1-3.
The Studien op. 56 show clearly that Robert’s musical allusions to Clara
continued long after their marriage. Despite Schumann’s claims of pervasive tributes to
Wieck-Schumann in his Davidsbündlertänze op. 6 and Novelletten op 21, it is harder to
find in them many more than the few well-known quotations compared to the
comprehensive tributes found in op. 56. Summing up the Studien is the metaphor that
canons and duets intertwine like lovers’ lives, an idea implied by Schumann in a perfect
description of the inter-dependency of a canon. It is given in letter to Clara about the
piano duo Variations op. 46, where one part takes over from the other in somewhat a
similar way: “I’m sending along the Variations…imagine that they are two hearts; neither
can beat or live without the other one” (Schumann & Schumann, 2002, p. 384).
Quotations by Brahms of Wieck-Schumann
Brahms’s extensive use of quotation and modelling has received attention from
Rosen (1980), Korsyn (1991) and John (2003) among others. In Brahms’s hands, the art
of musical citation had shifted greatly from some obvious early modellings made by
Mendelssohn upon which Schumann had commented (1947, p. 210), to more non-literal
borrowings and modellings.
A separate chapter could be written on the debt of Brahms’s opp. 76 and 79/2 to
Wieck-Schumann, a debt he himself highlighted with a prank he tried to play on her in
1878. Although it did not succeed, it resulted in her admission that she thought Brahms’s
later music sounded something like her own compositions of decades earlier. Brahms
arranged for someone to copy out parts of his newest piano music - Eugenie Schumann
thought it was from his op. 76 - on sheets of Wieck-Schumann’s old music paper stamped
with her maiden name (E. Schumann, 1985, pp. 159-163). He asked Eugenie to try to
have Clara accept the work as an unfinished composition of hers. Wieck-Schumann was
not to be duped. She wrote:
With the exception of one bit which sounded a little Brahmsish-Hungarian, the
composition was entirely new to me, but Brahms who has looked through every rag of
paper I possess, will probably be able to say where it belongs. Some parts sound to me
like Schumann, others like Brahms, but now and then I feel as if I myself might have
written them. Well, I suppose the mystery will be cleared up by and by (p. 161).
Brahms and Wieck-Schumann’s Sonata theme
Wieck-Schumann’s Sonata in G minor is another work Brahms would have seen
while staying in the Schumann household, just as he had studied her unpublished
Variations op. 20 before writing his own on the same theme (Reich, 2000, Preface, p. iv).
Brahms’s Piano Quartet in G minor op. 25 (1861) begins with her Sonata’s opening
theme lightly disguised. As it was Wieck-Schumann who gave the first performance of
the Piano Quartet in G minor on 16th November 1861 (Avins, 1997, p. 241), a tribute to
her may have been intentional from the outset. Another link with Wieck-Schumann was
that the Quartet’s second movement was “allegedly inspired by memories of her”
(Chissell, 1983, p. 157).
Brahms treated the theme as a ‘continuous variation’ with its first appearance
already varied. If the quasi-upbeat first note D and the C in the second bar are omitted,
the theme’s melodic identity with Wieck-Schumann’s becomes clear. Brahms simply
spread the vertical elements of her right hand out into one horizontal melody:
Example 6. 61. Openings of Brahms, Piano Quartet op 25 and Wieck-Schumann, Sonata.
Brahms, bars 1-2:
Wieck-Schumann, bars 1-2:
Although it has not been identified previously as either a Weber or WieckSchumann quotation, Brahms’s Quartet is much more likely to be a quotation of WieckSchumann’s Sonata than of Weber’s Konzertstück main theme for the following reasons.
Wieck-Schumann’s theme is in quadruple time like Brahms’s while Weber’s is in triple
time; the keys of G minor match whereas the Weber is in F minor; and the intervals of DBb and F-C which Brahms selected to open each bar match the right hand part of WieckSchumann’s theme harmonisation rather than Weber’s upper lines.
While the claim of such a linear re-arrangement might appear far-fetched in
another composer, it falls within the sophisticated parameters of Brahms’s general style
of alluding. Nor is it odd that a work could open with a variant, as a number of works
have been written where the theme appears clearly only at the end. Dahlhaus noted that
“it is no accident that thematic-motivic manipulation and sequential repetition shifted at
the same time from the development to the exposition” (1989, p. 256). In the case of
Brahms’s Quartet, development could be said to begin from the first bar of the
Brahms freely admitted his debt to Wieck-Schumann in his composing. In 1891
she wished to acknowledge in the printed score her borrowing of an idea from a Brahms
Mozart Concerto cadenza in her own Mozart cadenza. Brahms begged her not to,
replying: “by rights, I would then have to add to my loveliest melodies: actually by Cl.
Sch.! …I owe more melodies to you than there are passages or suchlike that you could
take from me” (Avins, 1997, p. 687).
The conclusion reached in this study is that Wieck-Schumann’s compositions
reveal very few actual borrowings or quotations of other composers’ works, apart from
Schumann’s. Only generalised stylistic influences or reminiscences can be found.1
Wieck-Schumann wrote of making allusions to Schumann’s work as a matter of course in
the diary entry about her March, just as Schumann’s letters had acknowledged his
quotations of her works. Detailed case studies in this chapter produce evidence of
See Appendix 4 for a Beethoven allusion and several reminiscences of other composers.
recognisable purposive quotations and allusions which she made in a significant number
The case studies show that her treatment of quotations was altered to fit the
requirements of the occasion. When it was desirable for an audience to understand the
full context of the quotation, it was made clearly intelligible, even unmistakable, as in the
case of Trio 1 in the March quoting Schumann’s song about grandparents for the
occasion of a fiftieth wedding anniversary celebration. When a quotation denoted the
sharing of a private event - the family Christmas-time reminiscence in the Sonata made
through the Schlummerlied quotation – a phrase was sufficient, positioned in that instance
as a backward glance at the end of the first section of the slow movement. When the
quotation was a tribute to one’s artistic partner, a motif sufficed for the other composer to
recognise, as in the case of the motif from Wieck-Schumann’s Mein Stern appearing later
in Schumann’s Violin Sonata in A minor and yet later again in her Violin Romance op.
Wieck-Schumann’s allusions are compelling in the light they shed on the
interpretation of the works in which they occur. When its rhythmic modelling of
Schumann’s bride-gift song Der Nussbaum is understood, Am Strande gains an enhanced
atmosphere of love. The resonance of personal feeling is deepened even in an occasional
piece like the March when its Trio II is known to refer to Manfred’s lonely destiny. Die
gute Nacht undergoes an intensely personal transformation in the mind of a performer
when its postlude is seen to point to her imminent motherhood; or when the lighter side
of that parenthood is revealed in the Romance op. 21/2 by its happy association with
Schumann’s Wiegenliedchen. All these and many other references bring her works
vividly to meaningful life.
Even if not all the allusions and quotations presented in this thesis are accepted as
intentional references to another work, the material shows the degree of identity of
language and style with another composer and stimulates a fresh look at the contents and
origins of each composition. The intentionality of a musical quotation is not an issue that
has to be seen in black and white. On receiving the Edward MacDowell medal for music
in 1983, Elliott Carter made these observations on the conscious-subconscious interface
I have a feeling that somehow there are these shadowy things behind me, these
compositions, which are in a way not me, myself…They have this strange life; I’m not
sure that I invented them… sometimes they did things I had never done before and made
me do things that bothered me and upset me and sometimes excited me – and puzzled
me, too, sometimes (cited in Godwin, 1995, p. 104).
Novelists have disclosed similar experiences when they find that their characters
or plot developed in ways unexpected to them or even contrary to their plans (Brande,
1996, pp. 136-137). While this may happen occasionally, in the end there is no doubt
about who takes authorship. Ideas from the subliminal levels of the mind are just as much
a response made by the composer who brought them into the light of day as conscious
ideas, and deserve to be credited as such. There is value at either end of the awareness
continuum. The retrospective or posthumous recognition of allusion and quotation in
particular compositions can provide as much insight into the formation and meaning of a
composer’s musical language as any quotations he or she may have intended or
Not enough is understood of the workings of the mind, let alone the truly creative
mind, to deny that the deep desire for unity and communicable meaning in the
compositions the Schumanns wrote for each other was an incentive great enough to call
forth all their inner resources and result in a network of mutual citations. In WieckSchumann’s case, there are relatively few passages in her work that are immediately
identifiable as reminiscences because of their discreet treatment. However, they are so
logical and purposive that the weight of the evidence presented in this chapter is firmly
on the side of consciousness and intentionality in her musical quotations.
The aim of the thesis was to lay a foundation for a portrait of Clara WieckSchumann as a composer by documenting and analysing fundamental aspects of her
musical language and compositional practices, and highlighting those elements which
give her work its individuality and distinction. The thesis investigated stylistic
preferences in areas such as melody formation, motifs and harmonic language before
moving into structural issues of musical cohesion in opus sets and the Piano Sonata. In
the final chapter, musical citations were identified and their ramifications explored in
works of various genres.
Multiple readings of Wieck-Schumann’s works are possible and inevitable.
Interpretations of her style do not have to agree on details, any more than issues of
influence and quotation need be claimed dogmatically. To write of a composer’s
intentions and priorities of meaning in music has its pitfalls, just as formal analysis has its
shortcomings. As Kossmaly wrote in 1844:
if we ourselves depart in our interpretation from the actual intentions of the composer, we
will find solace in the general lot of commentators, who are often clever when it comes to
discovering a number of things that the artist, in the rush of emotions and fired with
enthusiasm, has unconsciously incorporated into his work, but on the other hand may fail
to notice other things that the artist inserted into the work with full awareness and clear
intent (1994, p. 313).
Occasionally a technique such as an inversion or retrograde may have been as
subliminal in Wieck-Schumann’s work as it was evidently for Schumann at times in 1838
(Schumann & Schumann, 1994, p. 130). However, such chance results could apply only
to a fraction of her output, given the depth and breadth of expertise demonstrated in this
thesis. Because of her comprehensive musical education from the age of five and her
continuing musical contacts at the highest levels, Wieck-Schumann’s mastery of her
compositional material cannot be underestimated.
A characteristic feature of Wieck-Schumann’s compositions is the recurrence of
particular melodic contours including the falling-fifth ‘Clara’ theme, whose potentialities
she explored for some fifteen years up to 1847. In her early works it is at its most
effective and sophisticated in the Nocturne op. 6/2, a favourite of Schumann’s. There the
‘Clara’ theme stands out for its expressively shaped suspensions and character of deeply
melancholy introspection. In the larger context, the typical chromatic descent link in that
Nocturne and many other works contributes in a similar way to the underlying feeling of
melancholy that pervades most of her compositions. L. Dreyfus contended that modern
performances miss “the insight that the giants of our pantheon are great to the extent that
they learn to represent the depths of melancholy, and melancholy, as Kant recognised,
was a kind of secret key to the sublime” (cited in Taruskin, 1995, p. 270). The
melancholy aspect of Wieck-Schumann’s character was remarked upon in her childhood
(Reich, 2001, p. 29, p. 201) and found frequent expression in her compositions.
The rising fourth motif melody is equally significant in the context of WieckSchumann’s stated ideal of having one motif underpin a work (Litzmann, 1979, Vol. 2,
pp. 184-185). When a single motif with its variants forms the melody of songs such as
Liebst du um Schönheit op. 12/4 and Liebeszauber op. 13/3, the result is a great economy
of material deliberately designed to focus and convey emphatically the meaning of the
text. At the same time, her practices for maintaining interest throughout each composition
exemplify the conclusion that “while musical coherence is created by motivic reiteration,
poetic progression is depicted through continual motivic transformation” (Stein, 1989, p.
In the same way, contrapuntal techniques, even in melody formation, are too
consistent and logical across Wieck-Schumann’s work to be co-incidental. This study has
offered ample evidence of her intelligent and informed choices in applying techniques
with flexibility and imagination to realise her over-riding expressive purpose in a work.
Although she was recognised as a great improviser, her motific manipulations and other
strategies cannot be relegated to mere improvisational facility any more than Beethoven’s
Towards the end of her life, Brahms commented on Wieck-Schumann’s continued
fondness for pedal points and dissonance (Schumann & Brahms, 1979, Vol. 2, p. 236;
Avins, 1997, p. 706). All through her composing career, Wieck-Schumann had
highlighted dissonant intervals, often created by the independent movement of
polyphonic lines, to give her work strength and incisiveness.
Wieck-Schumann’s instrumental works are predominantly in minor keys; the
conclusion to be drawn from her large works is that this was to establish a serious and
worthy frame for the whole work. Her songs on the other hand are mostly in major keys,
setting a variety of poetic texts with no less depth of feeling. In finely-judged responses
to their poems, a number of her songs begin in a minor key and later alter mode, rhythm
and other details of motifs and themes. Evidence gleaned from song texts also suggests
that many of her recurring musical ideas retained consistent associations across genres.
Just as some intervals are associated with particular meanings in Wieck-Schumann’s
melodies, certain keys and harmonies are associated with particular topics, for example of
evening, love or despair.
While earlier works have a wider spectrum of key schemes, including semitonal
and mediant relationships, later works move more often to the submediant as a subsidiary
key area. The increasing standardisation of key schemes appears to have been motivated
by a desire for greater structural integration, making possible a more detailed surface of
increased chromaticism in harmony. At around the time that her key schemes were
stabilising toward a tonic-submediant preference, her virtuoso writing was also coming to
an end with the composition of the Scherzo op. 10 in 1838. For these reasons, the
Romances op. 11, completed in 1839 and published in 1840, appear to constitute the most
reasonable dividing line defining the beginning of a second period in her compositional
A feature of much of her piano writing is its four-part texture, often arranged in
loosely vocal style with appropriate individual stemming of parts. It results in an unusual
degree of autonomy for the inner voices compared to the piano writing of her
contemporaries Schumann or Chopin. Her use of imitations between voices and of a
general “romantic polyphony” creates a distinctive chamber-music style of piano writing,
except in the virtuoso and concerto compositions – and even there, such writing still
occurs in quieter parts or solo piano sections.
Wieck-Schumann’s concern for interest and minimal unvaried repetition means
that unity in a work never compromises an effective variety. Unifying elements include
repeated intervals and particular harmonies, such as the diminished seventh used as a predominant chord throughout the Piano Sonata. Seamless blending was a priority, whether
it was to bridge two sections, to assimilate a quotation to its surroundings or to form a
theme that emerged as a naturally flowing and uncontrived whole from manipulated
The working out of variety within unity is apparent in her own style of
transforming themes in the Piano Sonata, the Piano Trio Op. 17, the Three Choir Pieces
and other larger works or sets of pieces. In addition to such transformations, parts of
themes are recalled in later movements in the Piano Sonata, where the first movement
introduces virtually all the thematic material of the work. The Sonata has a network of
motific relationships traceable through each movement and deepening the listener’s or
performer’s interest by its intricacy. Also engaging is the Sonata’s romantic conception
and rhapsodic character, especially in its episodes. Given the central place of the sonata
genre in the piano repertoire, the publication of Wieck-Schumann’s Sonata should have
been a transformative event for re-evaluation of her compositional stature, but this did not
occur. Such a major work cannot be omitted from future studies of her compositions. Its
availability has made possible the presentation of a balanced piano recital program
devoted entirely to large and small-scale solo works by Wieck-Schumann, as for any
other significant 19th century piano composer.
Although women composers in the 19th century generally functioned in isolation,
Wieck-Schumann was able to circumvent this to an extent by forming compositional and
performance connections with a number of predecessors and contemporaries. Whether as
inspiration, influence or source for allusion, a communion of minds or a more personal
interaction is evident in her works with composers such as Bach, Beethoven,
Mendelssohn, Chopin and Schumann; with contemporary poets whose work she set; and
with composer-performer partners such as Pauline García-Viardot and Joseph Joachim.
Beyond lessening the sense of isolation of a woman composer, musical quotation and
allusion are shown in this thesis to be significant in Wieck-Schumann’s music for a
variety of reasons. One was the highly personal nature of her musical expression. As
Fiske wrote of Schumann’s music, some of Wieck-Schumann’s works are “only fully
explicable as a piece of autobiography” (1964, p. 574). This thesis has demonstrated how
Wieck-Schumann habitually employed carefully honed allusions to enhance meaning
within her compositions, resulting in an intriguing layering of cross-references or
The musical exchange between the Schumanns over more than twenty years is
one of the most remarkable in musical history. Once musical citations are recognised in
their compositions, it becomes clear there can be no complete evaluation of the oeuvre of
either composer without a study of both. Some previously unrecognised contributions to
the exchange by both Schumanns have been presented in this thesis. The intentionality of
their quotations is confirmed by Wieck-Schumann’s diary entries on quotation and
allusion in her March and by Schumann’s letters to her on his quotation practices.
Historically, the importance of the practice of quotation, if not denied outright,
has been under-estimated. Quotation was a stimulus to Wieck-Schumann’s creativity. It
made possible inter-personal exchanges and afforded artistic challenges for her as both a
devisor and receiver of musical citations. Yet although Klassen advanced a number of
reasons to explain why Wieck-Schumann virtually ceased composing in 1856, quotation
was not among them (1990, p. 264-269). The cessation of her composing career so soon
after Schumann’s death certainly suggests that a large part of why she chose to express
herself in musical terms was the opportunity composition afforded of a private mode of
communication. After his death, this form of personal communication was possible only
as a nostalgic reminiscence. As the re-living of past experiences through musical
allusions in her last Romance of 1856 could not be indulged repeatedly without risking
artistic stasis, she abandoned composition, and performance remained as her primary
outlet for inner communication.
Relatively unknown composers are routinely compared with familiar composers
to establish points of reference within an already understood style and context. While
Wieck-Schumann may have had remarkable powers of mimicry “like Picasso and
Stravinsky” (Barela, 2002, p. 169), like those two masters’ works, hers also had
individuality and artistic worth because influences were assimilated deeply and recast
independently. A deep understanding of ‘affects’ and how to use them tellingly, as in the
Romances of 1855 and 1856, makes Wieck-Schumann’s language eloquently
communicative and may be why her music continues to attract comparisons with great
composers. As to the question of whether she is any different from her contemporaries in
sounding like her peers, the answer is that she is not. Both Schumann and Mendelssohn
borrowed freely from similar sources, and in 1845 it was noted that they sounded so like
each other in details of phrase and harmony in several songs that “authorship…could be
misattributed” (Brendel, 1994, pp. 329-330).
Tempering the question of originality is the acknowledgement that all the
composers of the Leipzig school borrowed ideas, transforming them with their own
musical expression and techniques. Schumann’s defence of the Leipzig school to Liszt in
this respect was that “there is no such thing as a completely original work” (Brion, 1956,
p. 334). Overall, Wieck-Schumann exercised her gifts and mastery towards creating
quality rather than a highly idiosyncratic style.
Influences bearing on a composer’s work do not affect its intrinsic value. The
historic significance of influence emanating from it is nonetheless of great interest. As
Rosen pointed out, “Liszt’s stature is not magnified by observing that he did some of
Wagner’s work for him. Nor, on the other hand, is it diminished by his borrowing from
Schubert, Beethoven, Rossini and Chopin” (1995, p. 477). The same is true of WieckSchumann, who provided a musical model for Brahms’s late piano pieces with the
dedication to him of her Romances op. 21. Brahms performed her Romance op. 21/1 in
1856, and programmed several other works of hers (Reich, 2001, p. 314, p. 182). A firsttime listener to that Romance could well identify it as a Brahms piano work of decades
later. G. Johnson expressed a similar opinion in regard to Wieck-Schumann’s song
Geheimes Flüstern: “There are real touches of originality in some of the rhythmic
displacements in the word-setting. The result is touching and heartfelt; such music might
have come from the hands of Johannes Brahms in one of his folksong arrangements of
some forty years later” (2002, p. 63). Finding her ear “infallible” (E. Schumann, 1985, p.
172), Brahms followed much of the compositional advice she gave him. More research is
required to assess the full extent of Brahms’s debt to Wieck-Schumann for his late piano
Schumann also acknowledged his professional debt to Wieck-Schumann (Reich,
2001, p. 214) and this thesis extends the evidence of their musical interdependence. There
has been a considerable advance on the situation in 1964 when Fiske could claim to be
the first writer in English to examine several of Clara Wieck’s compositions for
information and influences on Schumann’s compositions (pp. 575-576). It is worth
reiterating that without a consideration of Wieck-Schumann’s works there will be an
incomplete understanding of Schumann’s. Beyond her general inspiration to Schumann,
her influence is discernable in the derivation of some of his themes, motifs and quotations
– all elements that reflect personal meaning in his compositions and require awareness of
the close relationship between the music of the two composers.
Real innovation is a separate question, for despite Wieck-Schumann’s undoubted
originality, she established no new genres or forms such as Liszt’s Symphonic Poems,
nor did she or any other of her contemporaries undertake rhythmic and harmonic
experiments comparable to Liszt’s Harmonies of 1833-34 or ordre omnitonique of the
1830s (Searle, 1966, p. 88). Originality in this sense became an issue of even greater
interest in the 20th century. However, it was not a fundamental concern for Poulenc, who
made his point charmingly in an American interview: “Some composers innove, but some
great composers do not innove. Schubert does not innove. Wagner, Monteverdi, they
innove. Debussy innove; Ravel does not innove. It is not necessary that one innove’”
(Johnson & Stokes, 2000, p. 399). That Wieck-Schumann was a less radical innovator
than Liszt does not diminish her compositional achievements. Perceptions also shift over
time about the extent to which a particular composer was an innovator, as happened with
the delayed acknowledgement of Liszt’s late music. Another issue is that WieckSchumann’s innovations were often unacknowledged or considered the result of women’s
odd humours (see Reich, 2001, p. 299) until some of her music was examined with more
care and balance in recent years.
Macdonald demonstrated that Wieck-Schumann’s Concerto op. 7 should be
credited not only with the beauty Schumann noted but also with “the advanced degree of
her musical thinking, an impressive achievement for a composer of any age or either sex”
(1991, p. 676). She ranked “among the most imaginative and original of any of her
contemporaries” (p. 675), and her Concerto is “decidedly avant-garde” (1993, p. 24).
That the young Clara welcomed the bold and the new in her own and others’
compositions is confirmed by Schumann’s letter to her:
I sometimes think you have too little respect for music that has the characteristics that
you yourself have as a girl, namely cordiality, simple charm, unaffectedness. You would
much rather have thunder and lightning right away and only what’s new and
unprecedented (Schumann & Schumann, 1996, p. 31).
She continued to welcome the new and original if she found it worthy, writing in
her diary in 1877: “I am so fond of studying new works, it stimulates me and renews my
youth” (Litzmann, 1979, Vol. 2, p. 328). Had she continued composing, she may have
embraced some surprisingly different directions. In 1880 she wrote of her admiration of
Verdi’s courage – and talent – in taking a new direction in the works of his old age (pp.
356-357). A decade later her diary acclaimed Richard Strauss as a composer (Chissell,
1983, p. 199).
Wieck-Schumann’s intimacy of style, her ‘inner voice,’ manifested itself both in
tangible and metaphoric ways, from melodic and harmonic strategies to specific
meanings for motifs and quotations. Overall, the ‘inner voice’ imbued her music with the
romantic essence Hegel considered the sum and substance of the era: the “true subject
matter of the Romantic Movement was absolute interiorness, a form of spiritual
subjectivity that the musical generated best” (Botstein, 1994, p. 29). As Schumann
expressed it in his 1837 review, her Soirées musicales op. 6 pieces were for those “whose
hearts swell to the bursting point at the sound of intimate yearning and inner song” (1988,
The intensity of expression in Wieck-Schumann’s works from the Romance op.
5/3 onwards fitted Adorno’s description of Schumann’s music: “It resisted the use of the
musical experience to falsify or camouflage the painful contradictions of existence”
(cited in Botstein, 1994, p. 4). Her last two Romances, written respectively during
Schumann’s hospitalisation and a few months after his death, are such profoundly
affecting pieces because she allowed the listener so deeply and directly into her personal
world of private tragedy.
Wieck-Schumann intended her music to reflect her inner life, as she observed of
the just-mentioned Romance op. 21/1. Music was the language of “emotional states,” as
Schumann expressed it in summing up his own compositions (Schumann and Schumann,
1994, p. 208). It was the inner state of love that Schumann felt pervaded his work but had
not been appreciated by his contemporaries: “what you miss in my compositions…is
love” (Pohl, 1994, p. 261). Echoing the same idea, Wieck-Schumann told her grandson
that her Variations op. 20 on a theme by Schumann was a work composed with great love
(De Vries, 1996, p. 175). The aura of that love is unmistakable in the exquisite sensibility
of the final Variation.
Analysing the crafting of Wieck-Schumann’s compositions is one facet of
understanding them; another is appreciating their elusive spirit, an extra dimension
beyond readily-definable emotional states. She articulated that ideal in referring to
qualities she had perceived in a particular composition: in it, “the striving for beauty,
spirituality, cannot be missed” (Schumann & Schumann, 1993, p. 24). In the
interpretation of Schumann’s Variations op. 46 for two pianos, she observed that even
Mendelssohn played it with too much physicality, when the work required the intangible:
“the perfume that drifts over the whole” (Schumann & Schumann, 1993, pp. 190, 255).
Her description fits perfectly the manner in which her own Impromptu in E is to be
performed and understood. These same qualities Liszt recognised in her musical gifts
which he likened to those of a secular Peri “aspiring towards her Paradise through
continuous, mystical reflection on the sublime, the beautiful, the ideal” (Liszt, 1978, p.
Her general credo regarding composition appeared to have been ‘excellence or
silence.’ One result was that the total number of her works is not large. Almost certainly
it would have been greater had she believed more in herself as composer and received in
that role the encouragement, support and acknowledgement given her as a performer.
Demands on her time from the multiple careers she pursued were extreme. That she
managed to compose after marriage in addition to her other work roles, family
circumstances and malaise with each pregnancy, attests to an ardently creative spirit and
her strong work ethic. Society in the 21st century still has to address satisfactorily the
issues for women of family versus career development and to find solutions for
apportioning the responsibility for children fairly between parents.
Role models provide one of the most potent inspirations in life. It is particularly
worthwhile to foster women composers as models to help ensure that the future canon of
Western classical music will no longer be formed overwhelmingly of the productions of
the male half of the population. Music history has examples of cyclic eclipses and rises in
the general valuation of a number of composers including Wieck-Schumann, but her
high-quality compositions can readily earn a place as new inclusive canons of music
It is hoped the thesis contributes to making Clara Wieck-Schumann’s fine but
neglected oeuvre better known and understood and its significance more widely
recognised, not only for the under-acknowledged role women composers have played in
history generally, but for the vital contribution of her works in any balanced assessment
of nineteenth century music.
List of Compositions by Clara Wieck-Schumann
Works list from Grove Music Online (Reich), corrected. Some places of publication added from
Reich (2001); some keys added, with minor keys in lower case. First published date in brackets.
Quatre Polonaises, Eb, C, D, C, 1829–30 (Leipzig, 1831)
Etude, Ab, early 1830s
Caprices en forme de valse, C, D, Eb, Ab, Bb, C, Ab, Eb, Db, 1831–32 (Paris and
Romance variée, C, 1831–33 (Leipzig and Paris, 1833),
Valses romantiques, C, 1835 (Leipzig, 1835)
Quatre pièces caractéristiques, a, e, B, b, 1833–36 (Leipzig, 1836) 1. Impromptu.
Le sabbat; 2. Caprice à la boleros; 3. Romance; 4. Scène fantastique; Ballet des
revenants (No. 1 also publ. separately as Hexentanz).
Soirées musicales, a, F, g, d, G, a, 1834–36 (Leipzig and Paris 1836): Toccatina,
Nocturne, Mazurka, Ballade, Mazurka, Polonaise
Piano Concerto, a, orch (or quintet) accompaniment, 1833–36 (Leipzig, Paris,
Variations de concert sur la cavatine du Pirate de Bellini, C, 1837 (Vienna, 1837)
Souvenir de Vienne, Impromptu, G, 1838 (Vienna, 1838)
Scherzo, d, 1838 (Leipzig, 1838)
Trois romances, eb, g, Ab, 1838–39 (Vienna, 1840)
Deuxième scherzo, c, after 1841 (Leipzig, 1845)
Quatre pièces fugitives, F, a, D, G, 1841–44 (Leipzig, 1845)
Piano Sonata, g, 1841–42: Allegro, Adagio, Scherzo, Rondo [orig. titled Sonatine;
Scherzo almost identical to op. 15 No. 4]; (Wiesbaden, 1991)
Impromptu, E, before 1844 (Paris, 1885)
Drei Präludien und Fugen, g, Bb, d, 1845 (Leipzig, 1845)
Three fugues on Themes of J. S. Bach, Eb, E, g, 1845 (New York, 1999)
Praeludium und Fuga, f#, 1845 (New York, 1999)
Präludium, f, 1845 (same as f# Praeludium)
Piano Trio, g, 1846 (Leipzig, 1847)
Piano Concerto, f, 1847; completed and orchestrated as Konzertsatz by J. De
Beenhouwer (Wiesbaden, 1994)
Variationen … über ein Thema von Robert Schumann, f#, 1853 (Leipzig, 1854)
Drei Romanzen, a, F, g, 1853–55 (Leipzig, 1855)
Drei Romanzen, vn, pf, Db, g, Bb, 1853 (Leipzig, 1855)
Romanze, a, 1853, in Girl's Own Paper (London, 1891)
Romanze, b, 1856
March, Eb, 1879, (Wiesbaden, 1996)
Präludien und Vorspiele, improvisations written out 1895 (New York, 1999)
Der Abendstern (unknown), F, early 1830s (Wiesbaden, 1992)
Walzer (J. Lyser), A, 1833 (Leipzig, 1833)
Am Strande, (R. Burns, trans. Gerhard), eb, 1840 (NZfM, Leipzig, 1841)
Volkslied (H. Heine), f, 1840 (Wiesbaden, 1992)
Drei Lieder (F. Rückert), f, Db, Ab, 1841 (Leipzig, 1841): Er ist gekommen,
Liebst du um Schönheit, Warum willst du and're fragen [published as nos. 2, 4, 11
of Zwölf Gedichte aus Friedrich Rückert's ‘Liebesfrühling’ für Gesang und
Pianoforte von Robert und Clara Schumann; other nos. are by R. Schumann as his
Die gute Nacht (Rückert), F, 1841 (Wiesbaden, 1992)
Sechs Lieder, Eb, g, Eb, Db, Ab, Ab, 1840–43 (Leipzig, 1844): Ich stand in dunklen
Träumen (Heine) [also as Ihr Bildnis], Sie liebten sich beide (Heine) [also early
version], Liebeszauber (E. Geibel), Der Mond kommt still gegangen (Geibel), Ich
hab' in deinem Auge (Rückert), Die stille Lotosblume (Geibel)
Lorelei (Heine), g, 1843 (Wiesbaden, 1992)
O weh des Scheidens (Rückert), e, 1843 (Wiesbaden, 1992)
O Thou my Star (F. Serre), Eb, 1846 (London, 1848) [= trans. as Mein Stern]
Beim Abschied (Serre), F, 1846 (Wiesbaden, 1992)
Drei gemischte Chöre (Geibel), SATB, F, Eb, Ab, 1848: Abendfeier in Venedig,
Vorwärts, Gondoliera; (Wiesbaden, 1989)
Sechs Lieder aus Jucunde (H. Rollett), A, f, Db, a, D, Eb, 1853 (Leipzig, 1856):
Was weinst du Blümlein, An einem lichten Morgen, Geheimes Flüstern, Auf
einem grünen Hügel, Das ist ein Tag, O Lust, O Lust
Das Veilchen (Goethe), F, 1853 (Wiesbaden, 1992)
Not fully authenticated: Der Wanderer in der Sägemühle (Kerner), c; Der
Wanderer (Kerner), f, 1831 (Wiesbaden, 1992)
Keys of Wieck-Schumann works. Characteristics or meanings associated with certain keys are suggested in the last column.
Instrumental works in major keys
C op. 1/2
Db op. 2/9
D op. 1/3
E op. 1/1
Sonata 3rd op.
Bb op. 2/5
B op. 5/3
op. 17 2nd mvt
Beauty – see op. 12/4, op. 13/4, op. 23/3
Love, happiness – see rising 4th motif
op. 17 3
op. 7 2nd
Instrumental works in minor keys (abbreviated to lower case)
op. 10 op.
d op. 6/4
Love, serenity, calmness – see op. 13/5
and Choir Piece No. 3
Elements of grandeur,
Star-crossed love – see
op. 12/2; Volkslied; op.
2/7 bar 17 ‘doloroso’
Sonata Sonata op.
1st mvt 4th mvt 16/1
op. 6/1 op. 6/6 op. 7
Vocal works in major keys
Db op. 12/4 op. 13/4 op. 23/3
D op. 23/5
Eb op. 13/1 op. 13/3 Mein
Die gute Beim
op. 13/5 op. 13/6
Vocal works in minor keys
eb Am Strande
Oh weh des
g op. 13/2
a op. 23/4
op. 7 op.
op. 17 op.
4th mvt 21/3
Serious and storm-tossed
– see Lorelei
Whirling energy in
earlier works, sorrow in
Ghosts, death – see
‘dolente’ op. 5/3 reprise
More information is given in this case study on the Romance op. 11/1 from which
Schumann quoted in his Studien op. 56 (see Chapter 6). The study shows that he also
alluded to the Romance in his Dichterliebe op. 48/13.
Case study. Romance op. 11/1. Motifs and meanings woven into form
The Romance op. 11/1 composed in 1839 was the last of the three op. 11 pieces to
be completed. A tightly-knit structure is formed through the use of motifs, small-scale
repetition and sequences. In ternary form, it has a key scheme of Eb minor in the outer
sections and the relative major Gb in the central section.
In the first section of op. 11/1, the ‘theme’ is a four-note cell constantly
reassembling its pattern as if to suggest circling in a maze of misery. The key of Eb minor
is that of Beethoven’s Funeral March in the Sonata op. 26. Despite the time signature of
3/4, the stemming in 6/8 time in the outer sections is crucial. Only the middle section is
stemmed in triple time making its material identifiable at the climax bars near the end
where the two sections are fused into one (see Example 3.21).
Around the time it was composed, Clara had written to Robert of the emotional
drain of their separation and of her father’s deceit and intransigence: “I’ve been in a state
of continual anxiety for three years” (1996, Vol. 2, p. 258). It has not been pointed out
previously that Schumann was to take Wieck-Schumann’s Romance as a model for his
Dichterliebe op. 48/13 written one year later. His letters of 1838-39 testify to his high
estimation of Wieck-Schumann’s Romances op. 11, and the modelling on WieckSchumann’s op. 11/1 is made more likely by the fact that he later modelled his Studien
op. 56/4 on the middle section of op. 11/1 (see Example 6.57).
He alluded to her theme-motif with its chordal pedals, technique of motific cells,
key of Eb minor and dark mood for his answering song of nightmare in Dichterliebe op.
48, Ich hab’ im Traum geweinet. The words of op. 48/13 mirror Schumann’s experience
of weeping strongly enough in dreams of separation from Clara to be awoken (Schumann
& Schumann, 1994, p. 348). Other similarities in the two works include the melodic
outline of the ‘Erlkönig’ 5-b6-5 motif (marked with brackets) in their opening bars; the
same accompaniment in bar 3 in the Lied as the Romance’s bar 2 in inversion, with a
similar pedal on Bb instead of Eb; and some staccato accompaniments from bar 3 as in the
Romance bars 9-10:
Wieck-Schumann, Romance op. 11/1, bars 1-6; Schumann, Dichterliebe op. 48/13; comparison.
In another night piece, the Choir Piece No. 3 with its quite different character,
Wieck-Schumann used the same technique of motific cell rearrangements for the theme
Op. 11/1’s middle section in Gb opens with a ‘Clara’ theme contour beginning on
scale degree 3 and tonicising the dominant with a secondary chord creating a typical
momentary 13th on the second beat:
Wieck-Schumann, Romance op. 11/1, bars 16-17.
The tertian modulation in the middle section bars 19-21 via a chromatic descent
down to the pianissimo A major creates the sense of drifting to the heart of a dream. The
chromatic descent uses held notes to outline harmony and to maintain the four-part
writing (held notes appear in other descents, for example the Konzertsatz bars 137-138):
Wieck-Schumann, Romance op. 11/1, bars 19-21.
The return to Gb is accomplished from D major in bar 23 via a French sixth which
resolves down the semitone to Db, dominant of Gb. One of Wieck-Schumann’s most
highly chromaticised descending links, moving in tenths between the alto and bass parts,
ends the middle section:
Wieck-Schumann, Romance op. 11/1, bars 25-28.
The recapitulation’s exact beginning is not clear at first, and Klassen placed it,
debatably, at bar 32 (1990, p. 100). Bar 28 sees the return of the first section’s theme (it is
a recasting of bars 5-8) and left hand arpeggio figuration stemmed in 6/8 but with a
dominant harmony and pedal for four bars. A Golden Ratio calculation of the total bar
numbers of the Romance places the recapitulation in the middle of those four bars; a
Janus-faced result of either/or, balancing the two possible readings. The listener hears the
return in bar 28 of the 6/8 arpeggio sweeps and four-note theme but without a tonic Eb
bass until bar 32:
Wieck-Schumann, Romance op. 11/1, bars 28-33.
Although it sounds like a dominant preparation for a reprise at bar 32, as a barnumber match shows, bar 28 is the disguised return with the order of the 15 bars of
section A rearranged:
bar 28=bar 5 section A
bar 32=2 (non-melodic introductory bar 1 omitted)
bar 35=5 repeated
reprise typically shortened by omitting the theme repetition of bars 9-11
In the following bar 39 (= bar 15 which was the link to the middle section), the
motif theme of the middle section is reintroduced, so that bars 15 and 39 equate in
The bar count confirms bar 28 as one of Wieck-Schumann’s carefully crafted
reprises, with the phrases in reverse order; that is phrase 2 followed by phrase 1. A
somewhat similar strategy is employed in the A minor Romance of 1853, where the
recapitulation appears to be delayed until bar 54, but actually occurs in C major in bar 52,
the starting point from which the subsequent phrases match those in the opening section:
Wieck-Schumann, Romance (1853). Comparison of opening and reprise bars 52-57.
The transforming of the middle section motif in the reprise of op. 11/1 unites two
sections which before had seemed discrete and creates a different emotional closure to
the whole piece. The Romance’s climax comes when in bars 39 and 41 the middle section
motif is turned from the major to the minor key, expressing grief by diminished intervals:
Wieck-Schumann, Romance op. 11/1, bars 16 and 39.
While the semiquaver stemming remains in 6/8 in most bars, it changes to 3/4 for
the two bars 39 and 41 which contain the central section motif. As noted, despite the time
signature of 3/4, the first section of the Romance is stemmed in 6/8 in contrast to the 12
bars of the middle section stemmed in 3/4. The double metre makes the climax of the
work clear by aiding recognition of the central section motif in 3/4 when it is
reintroduced into the reprise bars 39 and 41, its stemming standing out from its 6/8
Underneath the middle section motif in the right hand of bars 39 and 41, the left
hand lower voice provides a recall of the first section’s motif-theme (compare bar 4):
Wieck-Schumann, Romance op. 11/1, bars 39-42.
Bars 39-40 are repeated still more strongly a tone higher in bars 41-2. With the
merging of the middle section material, the reprise becomes more chromatic than the
opening section. The transformation of the motif forms the defining emotional peak of
the work where the two hitherto separate characters - of gloom in the first section and
hopefulness in the middle section - are brought together. Their union crushes the
hopefulness, which is perceived as an illusory dream in retrospect, and the Romance ends
even more bleakly than it began.
The three-tier rise; alternating chord links; additional allusions
The three-tier rise
The three-tier rise was a shape which Wieck-Schumann featured in a number of
works.1 It is a common technique in the arts, from Greek oratory onwards. Zen Japanese
flower arranging uses lines based on the ‘principle of three’ – heaven, humanity and earth
(Herrigel, 1974, p. 37). It is more emphatic and noticeable than a simple repetition. While
two is symmetrical, it can lead to squareness or polarise into duality which is avoided or
resolved by groupings of three.
A three-fold rise could be balanced by a three-fold fall as in the main theme of the
Scherzo op. 14 where first tension increases with the rise over bars 11-15 before falling
back in bars 15-17:
Wieck-Schumann, Scherzo op. 14, bars 10-17.
A strategy shared by instrumental and vocal music, three-tier rises open Sie
liebten sich beide op. 13/2 and the last two songs in the op. 23 set. Particularly exuberant
is the piano introduction of O Lust:
Wieck-Schumann, O Lust, o Lust op. 23/6, bars 1-4.
There are many examples in the repertoire. Besides Bach’s F minor Sinfonia and sombre fugue in F#
minor Book I, the three-tier rise occurs notably in Beethoven Sonatas ‘Pathétique’ op. 13 and ‘Farewell’
op. 81a (Adagio introduction bars 2-4, with a similar idea in the slow movement, ‘Absence,’ in bars 11-12).
These works are a possible source for the three-tier rise because their topics and feel of sorrow and
sundering match Wieck-Schumann’s Sie liebten sich beide and therefore by extension her Sonata Rondo.
The opening rises in the two Beethoven Sonatas share the sigh effect of the falling interval of a second.
Beethoven’s op. 27/1 first movement, in the second half of the theme in bars 5-8, provides a major key
Part of the impact of Er ist gekommen op. 12/2 is the repeat of the piano
introduction’s three tiers by the voice rising to a dramatic high Ab:
Wieck-Schumann, Er ist gekommen op. 12/2, bars 5-8.
Leidenschaftlich: Sehr schnell
The three-tier rise forms a link between the op. 12 songs, as the postludes of the
other two songs opp. 12/4 and 12/11 are built on it. It also binds together many themes of
the Piano Sonata.
In the examples just given of op. 14 and op. 15/2, the three-tier rise has been
balanced with a fall. In the Romance op. 5/3 bars 37-40, three sequences drop a tone from
the highest point climax of the middle section towards a gradual dénouement:
Wieck-Schumann. Romance op. 5/3, bars 37-41.
In the Romance in A minor of 1853, a three-tier fall takes the place of a chromatic
descent leading back into the reprise:
Wieck-Schumann. Romance in A minor (1853), bars 49-52.
Alternating chord links
From early works onwards, the oscillation of two chords was a structural link
technique in Wieck-Schumann’s instrumental works. An elegant solution, it presaged
change by creating an unsettled state of duality, hovering between two chords and two
sections, such as a middle section and reprise, until repetition or a new twist to a chord
opened the way forward.
In the Concerto op. 7 such a device dramatically bridges the end of the slow
movement in Ab and the beginning of the final movement a semitone higher in A minor:
Ab repeatedly moves to an enharmonic chord on E (Fb=bVI) which repetition eventually
allows the listener to accept as V of A minor. The choice of the E chord links in with the
key of E for the middle section of the slow movement:
Wieck-Schumann, Concerto op. 7, second movement, bars 60-65; Finale, bar 1.
The Violin Romance Op. 22/3 has two bridging sections of alternating chords, one
linking into and one emerging from the middle section. The first link, part of a long
dominant preparation, alternates augmented and dominant chords on D in bars 37-38, and
V7 and diminished chords on D in bars 40-41. The end of the middle section in G major
(VI of the tonic Bb) is a semitonal alternation of G major and minor with augmented
chords dropping back to Bb:
Wieck-Schumann, Violin Romance op. 22/3, bars 75-80.
Still more subtle is the link into the reprise in op. 15/1, accomplished by a play on
semitones (C-C#), set up to weaken the sense of key – an effect already noted in the
Romances opp. 5/3 and 11/3 and the Konzertsatz. The expected cadence in D minor on
the second beat of bar 29 is averted when the melody drops a tone from A to G to become
the dominant of F:
Wieck-Schumann, Quatre pièces fugitives op. 15/1, bars 27-31.
In the Caprice à la Boleros op. 5/2, two styles of link, oscillating chords and the
chromatic descent, are used successively with appropriate drama and flair to return to the
main theme at bar 77:
Wieck-Schumann, Caprice à la Boleros op. 5/2 bars 65-77.
Additional allusions and reminiscences
There are few allusions or reminiscences in Wieck-Schumann’s music that can be
compared to specific bars of another composer except for Schumann. Likenesses are
more in the nature of general stylistic influence or congruence, but a few more tangible
examples can be illustrated. Three reminiscences occur between bars 90-127 in the
Konzertsatz, although their intentionality is an open question:
Bars 90-91 are generally reminiscent of
Chopin’s Prelude in Ab op. 28/17.
In 1847, Wieck-Schumann proof-read
Chopin’s Cello Sonata of 1845-46 for a
publisher (Reich, 2001, p. 194). Its epic
nature may have reinforced that quality in
the Konzertsatz, besides calling to mind
The left hand figuration from bars 123126 is reminiscent of Chopin’s
“Revolutionary” Etude op. 10/12. Its great
influence on pianist-composers is still
being felt, as witness the codas in Nikolai
Kapustin’s Bagatelle op. 59/6 (1991) and
Etude op. 40/3 (1984).
Another affect motif is found in the
second subject area’s descending piano
figuration from bar 101 onwards. It
recalls Schubert’s accompaniment to Auf
dem Wasser zu Singen op. 72 (I am
indebted to L. Camphausen for the
Schubert figuration observation):
Konzertsatz, bars 90-92:
Konzertsatz, bars 125-127:
Konzertsatz, bars 109-111:
Schubert: Auf dem Wasser zu Singen, bars 1-2:
A Beethoven allusion
One of the few Wieck-Schumann works where a case can be made for an
intentional allusion to another composer besides Schumann is Scène fantastique: Le
ballet des revenants op. 5/4. In fact, any allusion to Beethoven’s Fidelio in op. 5/4 would
still count as a personalised reference to Robert, since Fidelio was the origin of his
Florestan persona. It was a work loved by both Clara (Litzmann, 1979, Vol. 1. p. 291)
and Robert, who noted his diary entry of 1837: “Fidelio über Alles” (Reynolds, 2003, p.
There is a long line of Schumann quotations of Beethoven’s Fidelio (Reynolds,
2003, pp. 19, 71), but Wieck-Schumann was so discreet that no specific Beethoven
allusions have been suggested. It has already been established that Schumann quoted
from Wieck-Schumann’s Scène fantastique: Le ballet des revenants (Fantastic scene:
ballet of the ghosts) op. 5/4 in his Sonata op. 11 (Klassen, 1990, p. 45). The present
writer proposes that her op. 5/4 opening theme was a Fidelio-Florestan allusion which
provided additional layers of meaning behind Schumann’s quotation. The existence of
such a Beethoven allusion is supported more literally by Schumann’s original note on his
Sonata autograph that it was ‘Dedicated to Clara by Florestan and Eusebius.’ Her Fidelio
allusion embodied Robert in his Florestan persona, just as he had embodied Clara as
Klärchen in his poems to her of 1838: “Egmont’s beloved was Klärchen-/A name so
beautiful and sweet” (Schumann & Schumann, 1994, p. 324).
Both op. 5/4 and the Fidelio dungeon scene with Florestan have diminished fifths
(E-A# and Eb-A respectively) in the low register, playing on the sinister associations of
the tritone. The dungeon setting is in keeping with the subjects of many of Robert’s hairrasing stories to the Wieck children. The original title of ‘Danse de Fantomes’ or
‘Doppelgängerchor’ for op. 5/4 (Reich, 2001, p. 294) is an echo of these stories. Without
pursuing the idea further, Klassen described Wieck-Schumann’s opening as a percussionsignal (1990, p. 41) - which is literally true in Fidelio, where it is played by the timpani:
Wieck-Schumann, Scène fantastique: Le ballet des revenants op. 5/4, bars 1-3; Beethoven, Fidelio, Act
II, bars 14-16.
That a Beethoven allusion in op. 5/4 was intended is suggested more by
biographical deduction - the Schumanns’ veneration of Beethoven, their games, Robert’s
Florestan persona - than by an obvious Beethoven reminiscence which is difficult to find
in Wieck-Schumann’s works.
Some further examples of citations by Wieck-Schumann not mentioned in the
thesis or discussed in the literature are listed in note form:
Op. 6/4, Ballade. Bars 45-49 are reminiscent of Schumann’s op. 8 theme bars 39-42.
Op. 11/2, Romance. Bar 48 has an echo of Schumann’s effect from the end of ‘Abegg’
Variations op. 1 of notes evaporating, found also at the end of both Schumann’s op. 2 and
Wieck-Schumann’s op. 2/2.
Op. 13/2, Sie liebten sich beide has a vocal melody and cadence in bars 7-8 reminiscent
of the cadential phrase from bar 10 of Schumann’s third movement of the Phantasie op.
17 (1836-38). Op. 17 was written as “a profound lament for you” when he thought he had
lost Clara (Schumann & Schumann, 1994, p. 129) and op. 13/2 is about a pair of
sundered lovers. Regardless, the original melody of bar 10 in the third movement of op.
17 is a ‘Clara’ theme, just as its first movement theme is. A level of shared quotation
Op. 13/5, Ich hab’ in deinen Auge. The vocal ending in bars 26-28 is an allusion to
Schumann’s Widmung op. 25/1 first verse ending bars 11-13.
Op. 13/6, Die stille Lotosblume. Bars 39-41 have the Fidelio falling fifths allusion
(Leonora and Florestan’s duet, Act 2, Scene 5) found in both Schumanns’ works (see
Beim Abschied. Bars 3-5 have similar Fidelio falling fifths.
Op. 14, Scherzo in C minor. The middle section bars 125-129 share the contour of
Schumann’s Romance op. 28/3 middle section Intermezzo bars 176-178, a phrase allied
to the ‘wedding’ phrase in Novellette op. 21/1, Mit Myrthen op. 24/9, several songs in op.
42 including the postlude of op. 42/7 and Wieck-Schumann’s postlude in Die gute Nacht.
The Romance op. 28/3 was one of her favourite works (E. Schumann, 1985, p. 200).
Op. 15/2, Quatre pièces fugitives. It shares the figuration of Schumann’s
Frühlingsnacht op. 39/12 (1840), his Trio in the March op. 99 (1843) and her
Liebeszauber op. 13/3 (which also includes a melodic quotation of Schumann’s
Liebesbotschaft). In turn, Schumann modelled his op. 56/2 on the piece.
Op. 17, Piano Trio. The first movement bars 59-60 weave in another reminiscence of the
cadenza of Schumann’s Piano Concerto first movement bars 406-407.
Op. 21/3, Romance. Besides the falling fourth motif found in two of her songs, the
middle section of the Romance has an allusion in bars 155-162 to Schumann’s Préambule
from Carnaval op. 9 (bars 72ff.). Op. 21/3 is modelled on a perpetuum mobile, perhaps
inspired generally by Chopin’s Bb minor Sonata finale and Fantaisie-Impromptu which
was not published until 1855, although Wieck-Schumann may have heard it since it was
written two decades earlier. However, the melody, figuration and harmony are
considerably more chromatic than the Fantaisie-Impromptu and the harmony changes
more frequently. The Romance glances back to Chopin’s works and looks forward to
Brahms’s, highlighting his debt to Wieck-Schumann particularly from the middle section
of op. 21/3.
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