Author Topic: Schumann piano music in the Beethoven-Wagner process  (Read 3839 times)

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Sean

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Schumann piano music in the Beethoven-Wagner process
« on: August 26, 2007, 06:07:25 AM »
This is a part of a long train of other thoughts and hence a bit dense: do add any thoughts on the Schumann piano works though, particularly on their texture and structure as relating to the apprehension process- I've just bought a complete set and will be returning to the great works in this repertory.

Schumann’s piano music is an example of taking the Beethovenian process of juxtaposition of material over architectonics further, though Wagnerian levels of unity not yet being achieved: Beethoven’s shifting architecture slides into charm, beauty and fantasy for its own sake but without overall form by intuitive motivic web.

Individual themes or melodies in Schumann have value for their own sake rather than in the first instance being taken as structural or germinal material in the Beethovenian sense and in parallel poetic or personal extra-musical association arises similar to Wagner’s dramatic association. Structural frames are used more just as a means for laying out themes, continually remoulded and varied for their own interest rather than developed in the classical sense, similar to Wagner’s motivic reformulations if not their consistency. Form is static and mosaic-like with emphasis on the parts rather than the whole as a separate entity- the whole gains unity from within not from form imposed from without, particularly well achieved in the Fantasy. Concatenations of small formal units are also used to form longer pieces such as the Humoreske or Blumenstuck, but the separate melodies and aphorisms, like Wagner’s motifs, remain supported more by the rich texture than the structure.

Offline Ten thumbs

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Re: Schumann piano music in the Beethoven-Wagner process
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2007, 01:11:59 PM »
I'm not quite certain what you mean by germinal material. I'm sure you must be aware that the all the Kinderscenen are based on the same thematic material and Schumann said himself that any opus worthy of the name should be so united, so probably the same applies to Kreisleriana, the Noveletten etc.
A day may be a destiny; for life
Lives in but little—but that little teems
With some one chance, the balance of all time:
A look—a word—and we are wholly changed.

Sean

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Re: Schumann piano music in the Beethoven-Wagner process
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2007, 05:49:27 PM »
Okay, good point (I was paraphrasing Gerald Abraham in Grove 1980). It's probably just that variation form is favoured over organic building, making Schumann an atypical German.

Offline Ten thumbs

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Re: Schumann piano music in the Beethoven-Wagner process
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2007, 08:52:42 AM »
Given the antipathy between Schumann and Wagner, I would only expect to find parallel development. In fact Schumann the underpinning thematics are mostly hidden and not overt as in Wagner's case. There are no external associations (other than word derivations such as SCHA and ASCH in Carnaval). One can find other parallels such as Fanny Hensel's freeing of melody from harmony, which could be construed as leading towards Wagner (she even writes unresolved dissonances) but in reality her only influences are on her brother, Gounod and (probably) Liszt.
A day may be a destiny; for life
Lives in but little—but that little teems
With some one chance, the balance of all time:
A look—a word—and we are wholly changed.

Sean

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Re: Schumann piano music in the Beethoven-Wagner process
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2007, 12:13:26 PM »
People, this forum's been bothering me a lot, the good and the not so good aspects of on-line 'life' is a conflict I've had enough of for a while.

Offline orbital

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Re: Schumann piano music in the Beethoven-Wagner process
« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2007, 12:20:50 PM »
This is a part of a long train of other thoughts and hence a bit dense: do add any thoughts on the Schumann piano works though, particularly on their texture and structure as relating to the apprehension process- I've just bought a complete set and will be returning to the great works in this repertory.

Schumann’s piano music is an example of taking the Beethovenian process of juxtaposition of material over architectonics further, though Wagnerian levels of unity not yet being achieved: Beethoven’s shifting architecture slides into charm, beauty and fantasy for its own sake but without overall form by intuitive motivic web.

Individual themes or melodies in Schumann have value for their own sake rather than in the first instance being taken as structural or germinal material in the Beethovenian sense and in parallel poetic or personal extra-musical association arises similar to Wagner’s dramatic association. Structural frames are used more just as a means for laying out themes, continually remoulded and varied for their own interest rather than developed in the classical sense, similar to Wagner’s motivic reformulations if not their consistency. Form is static and mosaic-like with emphasis on the parts rather than the whole as a separate entity- the whole gains unity from within not from form imposed from without, particularly well achieved in the Fantasy. Concatenations of small formal units are also used to form longer pieces such as the Humoreske or Blumenstuck, but the separate melodies and aphorisms, like Wagner’s motifs, remain supported more by the rich texture than the structure.

I don't know about any of these  ::) ::) but it's great music ;D

Offline zamyrabyrd

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Re: Schumann piano music in the Beethoven-Wagner process
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2007, 08:21:19 AM »
Schumann doesn't have a lot to do with Beethoven or Wagner. Like most of the early Romantics (Schubert, Weber, Chopin, etc.), he was a melodic individualist. Maybe Mendelssohn was the more concerned with form. One had to wait for Brahms to tie up the loose strings lying around.

(Now I must add the caveat in my humble opinion otherwise I might be considered notorious.)

ZB
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Offline BachQ

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Re: Schumann piano music in the Beethoven-Wagner process
« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2007, 08:45:40 AM »
People, this forum's been bothering me a lot, the good and the not so good aspects of on-line 'life' is a conflict I've had enough of for a while.

We're here for you, Sean.

You know that.

Offline Ten thumbs

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Re: Schumann piano music in the Beethoven-Wagner process
« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2007, 03:37:07 AM »
People, this forum's been bothering me a lot, the good and the not so good aspects of on-line 'life' is a conflict I've had enough of for a while.
I'm not argueing against you, Sean. I'm quite interested in knowing where Wagner's ideas came from. I'm not sure myself though whether such an abstact notion as a Beethoven-Wagner process has much substance. One thing though, the principal composers of that era were known to each other and Schumann was in the thick of things. Even Fanny Mendelssohn, although isolated as a composer, was very well informed of musical developments.
A day may be a destiny; for life
Lives in but little—but that little teems
With some one chance, the balance of all time:
A look—a word—and we are wholly changed.

Offline Ten thumbs

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Re: Schumann piano music in the Beethoven-Wagner process
« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2007, 01:43:07 AM »
Schumann’s piano music is an example of taking the Beethovenian process of juxtaposition of material over architectonics further, though Wagnerian levels of unity not yet being achieved: Beethoven’s shifting architecture slides into charm, beauty and fantasy for its own sake but without overall form by intuitive motivic web.

Individual themes or melodies in Schumann have value for their own sake rather than in the first instance being taken as structural or germinal material in the Beethovenian sense and in parallel poetic or personal extra-musical association arises similar to Wagner’s dramatic association. Structural frames are used more just as a means for laying out themes, continually remoulded and varied for their own interest rather than developed in the classical sense, similar to Wagner’s motivic reformulations if not their consistency. Form is static and mosaic-like with emphasis on the parts rather than the whole as a separate entity- the whole gains unity from within not from form imposed from without, particularly well achieved in the Fantasy. Concatenations of small formal units are also used to form longer pieces such as the Humoreske or Blumenstuck, but the separate melodies and aphorisms, like Wagner’s motifs, remain supported more by the rich texture than the structure.
Returning to the original argument, I must agree that discussion is much more valuable than the often unsupported contradictions and bickering that are common on this board. I am a great admirer of Schumann's piano music and the one thing that strikes me about it is the way he uses the outlines of melodies to create other structural elements. This development seems to be common around that time but Schumann was particularly devoted to it. In Wagner the so-called leitmotif is generally associated with a person, object or emotion. One can cite the 'fate' motif in Beethoven's 5th but I believe that association was not his own. More pertinent are works that emulate particular feelings, for instance the falling phrase at the beginning of the 'Les Adieux' sonata. Such ideas were not of course new and can be found in plenty in the songs of Schubert and Schumann etc, and again in, for instance, 'Carnaval'. In order to make this work in the Wagnerian sense one needs a long work, so that the musical phrase can establish itself  by appearing when required not by structure but by association.
A day may be a destiny; for life
Lives in but little—but that little teems
With some one chance, the balance of all time:
A look—a word—and we are wholly changed.

Offline BachQ

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Re: Schumann piano music in the Beethoven-Wagner process
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2008, 09:30:41 PM »
This is a part of a long train of other thoughts and hence a bit dense:

Perhaps you should recycle this as a prelude to all of your threads ........

Sean

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Re: Schumann piano music in the Beethoven-Wagner process
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2008, 07:50:53 AM »
Ten thumbs, thanks for those interesting thoughts back in September. The notes with my Demus set make the point that much of Schumann's initial invention has biographical reference, a little like the leitmotif perhaps, even if the extra-musical association is often uncertain.

Offline Guido

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Re: Schumann piano music in the Beethoven-Wagner process
« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2008, 09:33:10 AM »
Astonishing that you should feel it necessary to resurrect another of Sean's old threads especially with such a witty comment. You are an asset to this forum and we all thank you for it.
Geologist.

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