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5 - Clara Schumann and the Nineteenth-Century Piano Concerto

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 November 2021

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

Clara Schumann embarked on her Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 7, not only at a pivotal moment in her own musical development, having previously focused on ‘small forms’ (Kallberg, 1992), but also in the history of the genre. To write a piano concerto in the 1830s was to engage with an established tradition that was in a state of change. Significant in this regard were the continued advancements in the modern piano, the expansion of form, evolving relationships between the soloist and the orchestra, and shifting attitudes towards virtuosity, all of which gave rise to new ways of navigating the nineteenth-century piano concerto.

This chapter offers a contextual reading of the expressive worlds of Schumann’s Concerto, with reference to selected passages from all three movements. At its core lies an emphasis on the ways in which the piece blurs the boundaries between the public and the private, the physical and the intimate. In exploring these areas, the chapter demonstrates the ways in which Schumann situates her Concerto in a web of intertextual associations, establishing dialogues with other composers, while simultaneously putting her own stamp on the genre.

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Clara Schumann Studies , pp. 95 - 116
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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