Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/399

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SCHUMANN.

were perhaps an integral part of his nature. At the same time his conduct is to a certain extent explicable, by the general conditions of (k-rinan student-life. Out of the strict discipline of the Gymnasium the student steps at once into the unlimited freedom of the University. The vio- lence of the contrast most easily overpowers the most gifted natures, and sweeps them away into an exclusive enjoyment of the life it offers. Those who have some self-control after a time struggle out of the whirlpool, and avail themselves as best they may of the remaining years of study, rescu- ing from that period a precious store of poetical reminiscences which suffice to gild the prose of later life with an ideal light. It was the in- toxicating poetry of the student life which Schu- mann drank in deep draughts. Its coarseness was repellent to his refined nature, and his innate purity and nobility guarded him against moral degradation; but he lived like a rover rejoicing in this bright world as it lies open to him, worked little, spent much, got into debt, and was as happy as a fish in the water. Be- sides its tender and rapturous side, his nature had a vein of native sharpness and humour. With all these peculiarities he could live his student's life to the full, though in his own apparently quiet and unassertive way. The letters in which he discusses money -matters with his guardian, Herr Rudel, a merchant of Zwickau, show how he indulged his humorous mood even in these: 'Dismal things I have to tell you, respected Herr Rudel,' he writes on June 21, 1830; 'in the first place, that I have a repetitorium which costs 80 gulden every half-year, and secondly, that within a week I have been under arrest by the town (don't be shocked) for not paying 30 gulden of other college dues.' And on another occasion, when the money he had asked for to make a journey home for the holidays did not arrive: 'I am the only student here, and wander alone about the streets and woods, forlorn and poor, like a beggar, and with debts into the bargain. Be kind, most respected Herr Rudel, and only this once send me some money only money and do not drive me to seek means of setting out which might not be pleasant to you.' The reasons he employs to prove to his guardian that he ought not to be deprived of means for a journey into Italy are most amusing : ' At any rate I shall have made the journey ; and as I must make it once, it is all the same whether I use the money for it now or later.' Then in a perfectly amiable way he puts the pistol to his breast, ' Of course I could borrow the money here at once if I chose, at 10 or 12 per cent, but this method I should of course adopt only under the most unnatural circumstances, i.e. if I get no money from home.' When, at Easter 1830, he wished to remain another half-year at Heidelberg, he excused the wish by saying that 'residence here is immeasurably more instructive, useful and interesting, than in flat Leipzig.' This contrast of 'flat' Leipzig with the picturesque hilliness of Heidelberg, sufficiently betrays what it was

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��that Schumann included under the terms ' in- structive and useful.' His compositions, too, plainly evince how deeply the poetical aspect of student life had affected him, and had left its permanent mark on him. I need only remind the reader of Kerner's ' Wanderlied' (op. 35, no. 3), dedicated to an old fellow-student at Heidelbei-g, and of Eichendorff 's ' Fruhlings- fahrt' (op. 45, no. 2). Among German songs of the highest class, there is not one in which the effervescent buoyancy of youth craving for distant flights has found such full expression, at once so thoroughly German and so purely ideal, as in this 'Wanderlied,' which indeed, with a different tune, is actually one of the most favourite of student songs. ' Friihlingsfahrt * tells of two young comrades who quit home for the first time :

So jubelnd recht in die hellen Klingeuden, singenden Wellen Dea vollen Frtlhlings hinaus.

Rejoicing in the singing And joyous, echoing ringing Of full and perfect Spring.

One of them soon finds a regular subsistence and a comfortable home; the other pursues glitter- ing visions, yields to the thousand temptations of the world, and finally perishes; it is a por- trait of a German student drawn from the life, and the way in which Schumann has treated it shows that he was drawing on the stores of his own experience. And indeed he trod on the verge of the abyss which yawns close to the flowery path of a youth who, for the first time, enjoys complete liberty. His letters often indicate this, particularly one written April 5, 1833, to one of his former fellow-students, in which he says that his life as a citizen is, to his great joy, sober, industrious and steady, and thus a con- trast to that at Heidelberg.

Several journeys also served to infuse into Schumann's student life the delight of free and unrestrained movement. In August 1829 he went for a pleasure trip to north Italy, quite alone, for two friends who had intended to go, failed him. But perhaps the contemplative and dreamy youth enjoyed the loveliness of the country and the sympathetic Italian nature only the more thoroughly for being alone. Nor were little adventures of gallantry wanting. Frag- ments of a diary kept at this time, which are preserved (Wasielewski, p. 325), reveal to us the pleasant sociableness of the life which Schu- mann now delighted in. The Italian music which he then heard could indeed do little to- wards his improvement, except that it gave him, for the first time, the opportunity of hearing Paganini. The deep impression made by that remarkable player is shown by Schumann's visit to Frankfort (Easter 1830) with several friends to hear him again, and by his arrangement of his 'Caprices' for the pianoforte (op. 3 and 10). Shortly after this he seems to have heard Ernst also in Frankfort. In the summer of 1830 he made a tour to Strassburg, and on the way back to Saxony visited his friend Kosen at Detmold.

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