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8 - Contextualizing Clara Schumann’s Romanzen

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 November 2021

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

If not an idée fixe in scholarship, the notion of musical exchanges among intimates of the Schumanns’ circle probably counts at least as a Leitfaden. Clara Schumann’s wistful instrumental romances – and those composed by Robert Schumann, Joseph Joachim and Johannes Brahms – encourage a reconsideration of the role that ‘conversations’ played for her within the miniature genre. We begin with a chronology of the romances composed by this circle between 1829 and 1893 – predominantly for solo piano, but also for violin and piano, oboe and piano, string quartet, piano or violin and orchestra, orchestra, and cello and piano – and discuss how these ‘conversations’ could yield subtle allusions, performative physical memories and nostalgic recollections. Focusing on Clara Schumann’s Romances Opp. 21 and 22, this study brings forward aspects of formal and textural ambiguity, and virtuosity, all of which help reveal Clara Schumann’s contribution to the genre, while elucidating how her complex, multifaceted roles in the private and public spheres did not impede her from continuously challenging herself as a composer as she engaged in nuanced musical dialogues inspired by her circle.

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Clara Schumann Studies , pp. 165 - 186
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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