School of Music
Master of Arts in Music Education (MA)
Lieder, Dichterliebe, Schumann, Text Painting, Accompaniment, Performer
Robinson, Justin, "Schumann's Dichterliebe: A Revelation of a Great Composer's Life and Passion" (2019). Masters Theses. 571.
From a young age, German composer Robert Schumann’s passions for music, drama, and literature were evident. Through personal tragedies and an uncertain career path, these talents guided Schumann into a successful career in composition. Childhood interests in literature and the influence of German author Jean Paul Richter had a profound effect on Schumann’s compositional style. His view that music was the most effective aesthetic vehicle for expression was combined with Jean Paul’s definition of Romanticism to create a philosophy of music Schumann would come to live by. In the face of poverty, commercial failure, and artistic frustration with piano composition, Schumann took up a new compositional medium in the form of songwriting. The resulting Year of the Song in 1840 produced over 120 vocal compositions, including the Dichterliebe song cycle. This masterpiece of German Lieder and Romantic song cycle tradition is widely regarded as one of the greatest ever written. Dichterliebe, song settings of poems by German poet Heinrich Heine, displays Schumann’s distinctive ability to set text to music. His use of tonal relationships utilizes modality to guide the narrative along its trajectory. His affinity for romantic irony is evident in the creative ways in which he expresses this literary concept musically. Finally, Schumann’s unique talents in creating complex piano arrangements to provide musical imagery and aesthetic atmosphere set this work apart from others of the time. This paper will explore the life of Robert Schumann, how his passions, interests, and heartaches shaped his compositional style, examine his techniques and unique approach to text painting, and discuss considerations for the performer of Dichterliebe.