Thursday, January 24, 2008

Schumann's Fantasie in C major Op.17 and Papillons Op.2

I think Robert Schumann liked writing the style of Fantasie, he has several pieces named on Fantasie, such as Op.12, Fantasiestucke, Op.17, C major Fantasie, and Op.111, three Fantasiestucke. He was like that kind of person who always live in his dreamy world.
Schumann originally conceived of the Fantasie Op.17, as a piano sonata. The three movements related to sonata form. The Fantasie departs from sonata traditions in a variety of ways, including harmonic schemes, formal designs, ordering and balance of movements and textural development.
As a tribute to Beethoven, a lament for Clara, and a work dedicated to Liszt, the Fantasie has an extraodinay history. In the first movement, beginning phrase is Clara's theme. Not only in this piece, but also in his other pieces, wherever you find the descending five notes in Schumann's music, that is Clara's theme. In the development, the legend is showing out, it just like Schumann was telling a love story about he and Clara. At then end of the first movement, he quoted Beethoven's song from his song cycle. Schumann used some more Beethoven's ideas in the third movement as well, such as Beethoven's moonlight sonata like, Emperor concerto like, and Op,111 (2nd mvt) like.
Schumann's poetic intent, musical language, and creative process, everything shows on the C major Fantasie. It is a really great piece.

Together with this piece, I would like to talk some about Schumann's Papillons.
The Papillons was Schumann's early piece, Op.2, and was composed in 1831.It has meaning 'butterflies'. Papillons begins with a six measure introduction, and then following dance-like movements. Maybe it was Schumann's early piece, he didn't care about the connection between the sections. In Papillons, each dance movement sounds unrelated to the preceding ones, until the final, which is tonally similar to the introduction. Papillons is meant to represent a masque ball scence from a bovel, with each movement giving a different character at that ball.
The final dance is a quite famous old folk dance -"Grandfather's Dance". Some other composers copy the basic theme from the melody, for example, Tchaikovsky used it in his ballet "The Nutcracker".
For performing Schumann's music well, you have to use your imagination, because Schumann change characters a lot, you have to catch him. Flegejahre's writing for Papillons is a good reference to read.
At last, I want to argue something about our question in the class. If Schumann grow up or not? Of course, here we mean his music progress. I would like to say YES, he had grown up a lot because we can see in his music. His Abegg Variations,Op.1, and Papillons,Op.2 are his early pieces, they sound simple and not mature. Later until Op.9 Carnaval, Op.16 Kreisleriana, and Op.17 Fantasie are very successful writing. Does it not mean he grow up? I am confusing...

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