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Schumann's Piano Cycles and the Novels of Jean Paul


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Robert Schumann frequently expressed his deep admiration for the novels of Jean Paul Friedrich Richter, the late-eighteenth-century German novelist, essayist, and satirist. Schumann imitated Jean Paul's prose style in his own fiction and music criticism, and said once that he learned "more counterpoint from Jean Paul than from my music teacher."
Drawing on the recent, groundbreaking work in musico-literary analysis of scholars such as Anthony Newcomb, John Daverio, and Lawrence Kramer, Erika Reiman embarks on a comparative study of Jean Paul's five major novels and Schumann's piano cycles of the 1830s, many of which are staples in the repertoire of concert pianists today.
The present study begins with a thorough review of Jean Paul's literary style, emphasizing the digressions, intertextuality, self-reflexivity, and otherworldliness that distinguish it. The similarly digressive style that Schumann developed is then examined in his earliest works, including the enduring and highly original Carnaval [1835], and in cycles of the later 1830s, notably Davidsbündlertänze and Faschingsschwank aus Wien. Finally, an analysis of three one-movement works from 1838-39 reveals links with Jean Paul's exploration of the idyll, anenre that had experienced an eighteenth-century revival.
Throughout, the author attempts to keep in mind the actual sound and performed experience of the works, and suggests ways in which an awareness of Jean Paul's style might change the performance and hearing of the cycles.

Erika Reiman, received her Ph.D. in Musicology from the University of Toronto [1999] and has taught at Brock University, Wilfrid Laurier University, the University of Guelph, and the University of Toronto; she is also active as a pianist and chamber musician.


Rich and elegant work . . . this book's fascinating discussion and analysis of Schumann's early piano cycles is not to be missed. Highly recommended. CHOICE

Erika Reiman presents a systematic account of the structural, stylistic, and generic parallels between Schumann's keyboard music of the 1830s and Jean Paul's fictional works, which Schumann first read as a teenager and turned to repeatedly for inspiration throughout the course of his creative life. The most significant connections between composer and novelist are almost certainly to be found at the deeper, structural level, and now, for the first time, we have a thorough exploration of these connections. --John Daverio, Professor of Music, Boston University

An impressive study. NOTES, March 2005

Reiman's topic is fascinating, and she has carried out an enormous amount of investigative and musical-interpretive work. . . . The book is a creative addition to Schumann scholarship focusing on music-literature relationships. NINETEENTH-CENTURY MUSIC REVIEW

The most thorough and comprehensive treatment of Jean-Paul's writings anywhere in the Schumann literature. . . . [Reiman's] underlying argument -- that Schumann's music often takes on the quality of a narrative -- is intuitively appealing. . . [and] may hold the key. MUSIC AND LETTERS [David Ferris]

With more than 100 musical examples, all the passages that are discussed can be directly examined. The analyses that are undertaken are compelling and persuasive. DIE MUSIKFORSCHUNG [Thomas Synofzik]


First Published: 15 Mar 2004
13 Digit ISBN: 9781580461450
84 line drawing illustrations
Pages: 248
Size: 6 x 9
Binding: Hardback
Imprint: University of Rochester Press
BIC Class: AV

Details updated on 05 Oct 2015


  • 1  "Seldom Satisfied, But Always Delighted": Jean Paul and His Novels
  • 2  Digressive Dances: Schumann's Early Cycles
  • 3  Carnaval: Redefining Convention, Transcending Boundaries
  • 4  Higher and Lower Forms
  • 5  Schumann's and Jean Paul's Idyllic Vision

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