Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/426
��Here too poetic pictures seem to be hovering round him on every side.
His third symphonic work of the year 1841 is also irregular, but only in form, and has as good a right as the second to the name of ' Symphony.* It appeared, however, under the name ' Overture, Scherzo, and Finale,' as op. 52. Of this work, which is charming throughout, the first move- ment offers us the only example to be found in Schumann of the influence of Cherubini, a master for whom he had a great reverence. Perhaps the most lovely movement is the highly poetic Scherzo in gigue-rhythm, which might constitute a type by itself among symphony-scherzos. His other scherzos approximate in style to those of Beethoven, whose invention and speciality this form was, and who had no successor in it but Schumann. The characteristic of the C major Symphony (op. 61) is a graver and more mature depth of feeling ; its bold decisiveness of form and overpowering wealth of expression reveal distinctly the relationship in art between Schu- mann and Beethoven. The form too, as far as regards the number and character of the move- ments, is quite that of the classical masters, while in the last symphony (Eb, op. 97) Schumann once more appears as one of the modern school. This is divided into five separate movements, in- cluding a slow movement in sustained style, and of a devotional character between the Andante and the Finale. Schumann originally inscribed it with the words 'In the style of an accom- paniment to a solemn ceremony ' (im Charakter der Begleitung einen feierlichen Ceremonie), and we know that it was suggested to him by the sight of Cologne cathedral, and the festivities on the occasion of Archbishop von Geissel's elevation to the Cardinalate. The other movements are power- ful, and full of variety and charm, and the whole symphony is full of vivid pictures of Bhineland life. Perhaps the gem of the whole is the second movement (Scherzo), in which power and beauty are mingled with the romance which in every Oerman heart hovers round the Rhine and its multitude of songs and legends. Although written in 1850, when Schumann's imagination was be- coming exhausted, the work bears no trace of any diminution of power.
The poetical concert-overture, invented by Mendelssohn, and practised by Bennett and Gade, was a form never cultivated by Schu- mann. His overtures are really 'opening pieces,' whether to opera, play, or some festivity or other. In this again he follows Beethoven. His overtures, like those of Beethoven, are most effective in the concert-room, when the drama or occasion for which they were composed is kept in mind. It is so even with the wonder- ful ' Genoveva ' Coverture, which contains some- thing of Weber's power and swing; but more than all is it true of the overture to Byron's ' Manfred/ so full of tremendous passion. None of the overtures subsequently written by Schu- mann reached this degree of perfection, least of all his 'Faust* overture, though that to the ' Braut von Messina ' (op. 100) is not much
inferior ^ to * Manfred.' In the last year of his productive activity Schumann was much oc- cupied with this form, but the exhausted con- dition of his creative powers cannot be dis- guised, either in the ' Faust' overture or in those to Shakespeare's 'Julius Caesar '(op. 128) and Goethe's 'Hermann und Dorothea' (op. 136), which last he had intended to set as an opera. The festival overture on the ' Rheinweinlied* (op. 123) is cleverly worked, and a very effective pUce <f occasion.
It was in the spring of 1838 that Schumann made his first attempt, so far as we know, at a String Quartet. It was scarcely successful, for he was too much immersed in pianoforte music ; at any rate the world has hitherto seen nothing of it. In June and July 1 842 he was much more successful The three string quartets (op. 41), written at this time, are the only ones that have become known. They cannot be said to be in the purest quartet style ; but as Schumann never- played any stringed instrument, this is not sur- prising. They still retain much of the pianoforte style ; but even by this means Schumann attains many new and beautiful effects. In several places the influence of Beethoven is clearly discernible ; especially in the Adagio of the A minor and the Adagio-variations of the F major Quartet. On the other hand, the ' Quasi Trio* in the style of a gavotte, in the Finale of the A major, shows an affinity with Bach (compare the gavotte in the sixth of the so-called 'French suites' in E major), though not as something appropriated from without, but rather as an individuality de- veloped from within. At the same time the Scherzo of the A minor Quartet is an example of how a fleeting impression often becomes fixed in an independently creative imagination, until it reaches a more perfect degree of development. At the time of writing this quartet Schumann had become acquainted with Marschner's G minor Trio (op. 1 1 2), and speaks of it in the Zeitschrift. The fine scherzo of that work struck him very much, and in his own scherzo it reappears, in a modified form certainly, but yet recognisable enough. In spite of this plagiarism however we must allow the quartet to be in the highest degree original, and full of richness and poetry. It contains much enchanting beauty, never sur- passed even by Schumann. He seems here to have resumed his practice of mixing up poetic mysticism with his music. What other reason could there be for proposing to use the four bars of modulation from the first quartet (bars 30-34), exactly as they stand, for an introduction to the second quartet? He afterwards struck them out, as may be seen in the autograph. The other quartets also arrived at their present form only after manifold alterations. The slow introduction to the A minor Quartet was at first . intended to be played con sordini. The third quartet began with a chord of the 6-5 on D, held out for a whole bar. The greatest alterations were made in the first Allegro of the A minor and in the variations in Ab of the F major Quartets. Whole sections were re-written and modified in