Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/403

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SCHUMANN.

Ijahre ' is interesting. There is also a certain Julius among the ' Davidsbiincller,' pro- bably Julius Knorr. The name occurs in Schu- mann's first essay on music, ' Ein opus ii.' This is not included in the 'Neue Zeitschrift,' but appears in No. 49 of the 'Allgemeine Musik- alische Zeitung' for 1831 (then edited by Fink). The editor has prefixed a note to the effect that ' it is by a young man, a pupil of the latest school, who has given his name,' and contrasts it with the anonymous work of a reviewer of the old school discussing the same piece of music. The contrast is indeed striking, and the imagin- ative flights of enthusiastic young genius look strange enough among the old-world surround- ings of the rest of the paper.

Schumann placed this critique which deals with Chopin's variations on ' La ci darem * at the beginning of his collected writings, which he published towards the close of his life (' Gesam- melte Schriften,' 4 vols. GeorgWigand, Leipzig, 1854). It is a good example of the tone which he adopted in the ' Neue Zeitschrift. 1 His fellow- workers fell more or less into the same key, not from servility, but because they were all young men, and because the reaction against the Phi- listine style of criticism was just then in the air. This may be plainly detected, for instance, in a critique written by Wieck for the periodical called ' Cecilia,' on Chopin's airs with variations, and which is indeed fanciful enough. Thus it is easy to understand that the total novelty of the style of writing of the 'Neue Zeitschrift' should have attracted attention to music; the paper soon obtained a comparatively large cir- culation ; and as, besides the charm of novelty and style, it offered a variety of instructive and entertaining matter, and discussed important subjects earnestly and cleverly, the interest of the public was kept up, and indeed constantly increased from year to year. The influence ex- erted by Schumann on musical art in Germany through the medium of this paper, cannot but be regarded as very important.

It has been sometimes said that Schumann's literary labours must have done him mischief, by taking up time and energy which might have been better employed in composition. But this view seems to me untenable. Up to the period at which we have now arrived, Schumann, on his own statement, had merely dreamed away his life at the piano. His tendency to self-concentration, his shyness, and his independent circumstances, placed him in danger of never achieving that perfect development of his powers which is pos- sible only by vigorous exercise. Now the editing of a journal is an effectual remedy for dreaming; and when, at the beginning of 1835, he became sole editor, however much he may have felt the inexorable necessity of satisfying his readers week after week, and of keeping his aim constantly in view, it was no doubt a most beneficial exercise for his will and energies. He was conscious of this, or he certainly would not have clung to the paper with such affection and persistency ; and it is a matter of fact that the period of his happiest

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��and most vigorous creativeness coincides pretty nearly with that during which he was engaged on the ' Zeitschrift.' Hence, to suppose that his literary work was any drawback to his artistic career is an error, though it is true that as he gradually discovered the inexhaustible fertility of his creative genius, he sometimes complained that the details of an editor's work were a burthen to him. Besides, the paper was the medium by which Schumann was first brought into contact and intercourse with the most illustrious artists of his time ; and living as he did apart from all the practically musical circles of Leipzig, it was almost the only link between himself and the contemporary world.

Nor must we overlook the fact that certain peculiar gifts of Schumann's found expression in his writings on musical subjects, gifts which would otherwise scarcely have found room for display. His poetic talent was probably neither rich enough nor strong enough for the production of large independent poems ; but, on the other hand, it was far too considerable to be condemned to perpetual silence. In his essays and critiques, which must be regarded rather as poetic flights and sympathetic interpretations than as examples of incisive analysis, his poetical gift found a natural outlet, and literature is by so much the richer for them. Nay, it is a not unreasonable speculation whether, if his imaginative powers had not found this vent they might not have formed a disturbing and marring element in his musical creations. Even as it is, poetical imagery plays an important part in Schumann's music, though without seriously overstepping the per* missible limits. This too we may safely say, that in spite of his silent and self-contained nature, there was in Schumann a vein of the genuine agitator, in the best and noblest sense of the word ; he was possessed by the convic- tion that the development of German art, then in progress, had not yet come to its final term, and that a new phase of its existence was at hand. Throughout his writings we find this view beautifully and poetically expressed, as for in- stance, ' Consciously or unconsciously a new and as yet undeveloped school is being founded on the basis of the Beethoven-Schubert romanticism, a school which we may venture to expect will mark a special epoch in the history of art. Its destiny seems to be to usher in a period which will nevertheless have many links to connect it with the past century.' Or again : ' A rosy light is dawning in the sky; whence it cometh I know not; but in any case, O youth, make for the light.*

To rouse fresh interest and make use of that already existing for the advancement of this new movement was one of his deepest instincts, and this he largely accomplished by means of his paper. From his pen we have articles on almost all the most illustrious composers of his generation Mendelssohn, Taubert, Chopin, Killer, Heller, Henselt, Stern dale-Bennett, Gade, Kirchner, and Franz, as well as Johannes Brahms, undoubtedly the most remarkable composer of the generation after Schumann. On some he first threw the

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