English Blog

Robert Schumann: Kreisleriana Op. 16 6/19/17

June 19, 2017

I have always wanted to learn this Schumann’s monumental work. I have been figuring out, studying, reading, practicing, but finally, I have more time to really focus on Kreisleriana for the last few weeks. Now I can’t stop playing it. The tunes are constantly playing in my head. The images of Clara and Robert are starting to appear when I practice. I am sane! I enjoy finding the conversations between Robert and Clara in the music, going with Julia/Kreisler in E. T. A. Hoffman’s novel. Hoffman and Schumann shared many aspects in their lives, and Schumann uses Kreisler from Hoffman’s novel to express his feelings toward Clara. Robert wrote to Clara “You and one of your ideas play the main role in it, and I want to dedicate it to you, yes, you and nobody else, and then you will smile so sweetly when you discover yourself in it….” It is known that Robert and Clara often had secret codes (!) in their music and only they knew the messages. How wonderful! I am sure musicologists have been trying to discover those secret codes. I believe some of them are from their pranky conversation or flirting acts. Nobody else needs to know.

I learned the important German word, Sehnsucht. (I took German for one year in the conservatory in Japan, and I forgot everything.) I think it is translated in English as longing, wistful, yearning, nostalgic, and futile attempts to complete the sentiment. Schumann’s romanticism only exists with “Sehnsucht”. There was no way for Robert to communicate with Clara when she was away (she was one of the best pianists in the era). There were letters to write to, but I am sure it took forever to reach. There was no photo to look at (he may had her portrait), no phone to hear her voice. His sentiment had no cure, and the imagination and longing was what he was hanging onto. Robert was in a sanctuary when he thought of Clara and composed music. His mind was at peace.

I am ecstatic to live with Kreisleriana, and it is fun to come to the piano everyday to greet Robert and Clara. (I got a new piano a year and half ago, and it is more fun to practice at home now). I am sure I will develop more affection toward them as I practice and learn more.