The genesis and reception of Robert Schumann's Kerner Liederreihe, Op. 35 Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Gennaro, Robert Joseph
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Music
  • Robert Schumann's Zwölf Gedichte von Justinus Kerner: Eine Liederreihe, op. 35 (1840), represents the composer's final song cycle from his Liederjahr, and it stands as one of his three contributions to the nineteenth-century Wanderlieder tradition (the others being op. 36 and op. 39). While multiple comprehensive studies address several of Schumann's song cycles (opp. 39, 42, and 48), op. 35 has not received the same amount of attention from musicologists. One of the reasons for this, according to Barbara Turchin, is the misunderstanding of op. 35's poetic theme and musical substance. The Kerner Liederreihe lacks the kind of teleological narrative found in Dichterliebe and Frauenliebe und Leben. But there may be more important questions surrounding op. 35 than tightly-knit narrative progression. My study places op. 35 in the context of the loosely-knit nineteenth-century Wanderlieder cycle by tracing its history from genesis through critical reception. I examine the process by which Schumann composed these songs, from his selection of Kerner's verse to the chronology of composition, realization in the Berlin Liederbücher, and organization in the first edition print. Although there are no known sketches for op. 35, we can compare the layers of the autograph realization to study Schumann's compositional process. In the final two chapters I examine the publication and reception history of op. 35, noting the way in which Schumann divided the cycle into volumes and how writers have assesed the result, from the earliest known review to the most recent studies by current musicologists. In general, we find that Schumann tried to bring tonal and narrative order to the opus in a loose sense, a phenomenon in which writers (including this one) have become increasingly interested.
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  • Finson, Jon W.
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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