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6 - Clara Schumann and Bach

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 November 2021

Joe Davies
Affiliation:
Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford
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Summary

Until the recent emergence of women composers from the shadows, the name Schumann coupled with that of Bach in the context of compositional influence would have been taken to indicate Robert Schumann. However, their marriage diaries reveal that Robert and Clara Schumann were involved in studying together the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, specifically the two books of his ‘Forty-Eight’ Preludes and Fugues. This chapter first explores some implications of the documentary evidence of Robert and Clara Schumann’s engagement with J. S. Bach’s music, as well as Clara Schumann’s perception of her compositional efforts. The case studies that follow consider the impact of Bach on Clara Schumann as a composer, focusing on her Three Preludes and Fugues, Op. 16 (especially No. 1 in G minor) and her Piano Trio in G minor, Op. 17 (with particular reference to the first movement and finale), and ranging from direct connections to broader compositional traits. Comparison with Robert Schumann’s fugal writing proves revealing with reference to the finale of his Piano Quintet in E flat major, Op. 44, and the finale of Clara’s Piano Trio. Concluding remarks explore the nature of intertextuality, and the wider context of nineteenth-century Bach culture in relation to the work of women composers.

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Clara Schumann Studies , pp. 117 - 138
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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