Schumann and the Development of the Collaborative Relationship between Voice and Piano in Opus 48 Dichterliebe
University of Kansas
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After Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann is the most recognized name as a composer of Lieder. The son of a book dealer Schumann was perhaps one of the most well read composers of his day, which resulted in informed decisions as to his choice of poetry and treatment of each poem within his songs and cycles. Schumann's first foray into lieder in 1827-28 was followed by an over ten year hiatus from lieder composition. During this time he seemed to have a disdain for vocal writing thinking it to be an "inferior" form of music and led to him solidifying his instrumental compositional technique. The year of 1840 to 1841, brought an abrupt change in his attitude about song composition and he went on with what has been described as his Liederjahr, in which he composed over 150 songs and several cycles including Dichterliebe, which combined Schumann's mature piano technique to his choice of poetry. What resulted was a combination of voice and piano that was more of a symbiotic relationship then that of simple voice and accompaniment. Before Schumann, the piano and voice could exist independently of each other. The vocal line was one aspect of the song, often the melody, and the piano was accompaniment providing harmony and text painting. In the mature songs of Schumann, including Dichterliebe, the piano and voice were dependent, more collaborative with each other as not previously seen.
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