Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/404

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.



��light of intelligent and enthusiastic literary sym- pathy ; others he was actually the first to intro- duce to the musical world ; and even Berlioz, a Frenchman, he eulogised boldly and successfully, recognising in him a champion of the new idea. By degrees he would naturally discern that he had thus prepared the soil for the reception of his own works. He felt himself in close affinity with all these artists, and was more and more confirmed in his conviction that he too had some- thing to say to the world that it had not heard before. 'If you only knew,' he wrote in 1836 to Moscheles in London, ' how I feel, as though I had reached but the lowest bough of the tree of heaven ; and could hear overhead, in hours of sacred loneliness, songs, some of which I may yet reveal to those I love you surely would not deny me an encouraging word.' In the Zeit- schrift he must have been aware that he con- trolled a power which would serve to open a shorter route for his own musical productions. ' If the publisher were not afraid of the editor, the world would hear nothing of me perhaps to the world's advantage. And yet the black heads of the printed notes are very pleasant to behold.' 'To give up the paper would involve the loss of all the reserve force which every artist ought to have if he is to produce easily and freely.'

So he wrote in 1836 and 1837. But at the same time we must emphatically contradict the suggestion that Schumann used his paper for selfish ends. His soul was too entirely noble and his ideal aims too high to have any purpose in view but the advancement of art ; and it was only in so far as his own interests were insepar- able from those of his whole generation, that he would ever have been capable of forwarding the fortunes of his own works. The question even whether, and in what manner, his own works should be discussed in the Neue Zeitschrift he always treated with the utmost tact. In one of his letters he clearly expresses his principles on the subject as follows : ' I am, to speak frankly, too proud to attempt to influence Hartel through Fink (editor of the 'Allgemeine inus. Zeitung'); and I hate, at all times, any mode of instigating public opinion by the artist himself. What is strong enough works its own way.'

His efforts for the good cause indeed went fceyond essay-writing and composing. Extracts from a note-book published by Wasielewski prove that he busied himself with a variety of plans for musical undertakings of general utility. Thus he wished to compile lives of Beethoven and of Bach, with a critique of all their works, and a biographical dictionary of living musicians, on the same plan. He desired that the relations of operatic composers and managers should be regulated by law. He wished to establish an agency for the publication of musical works, so that composers might derive greater benefit from their publications, and gave his mind to a plan for founding a Musical Union in Saxony, with Leipzig as its head-quarters, to be the counter- part of Schilling's National German Union (Deutschen National Verein fur Musik).


In the first period of his editorship, before he had got into the way of easily mastering his day's labour, and when the regular round of work had still the charm of novelty, it was of course only now and then that he had leisure, or felt in the mood, for composing. Two great pianoforte works date from 1834 (the 'Carnaval,' op. 9, and the 'Etudes Symphoniques,' op. 13), but in 1835 nothing was completed. After this, however, Schumann's genius began again to assert itself, and in the years 1836 to 1839 ^ e composed that splendid set of pianoforte works of the highest excellence, on which a considerable part of his fame rests ; viz. the great Fantasia (op. 1 7), the F minor Sonata (op. 14), Fantasiestiicke (op. 12), Davidsbiindlertanze, Novelletten, Kinderscenen, Kreisleriana, Huinoreske, Faschingsschwank, Ro- manzen, and others. The fount of his creative genius flowed forth ever clearer and more abund- antly. 'I used to rack my brains for a long time,' writes he on March 15, 1839, ' but now I scarcely ever scratch out a note. It all comes from within, and I often feel as if I could go playing straight on without ever coming to an end.' The in- fluence of Schumann the author on Schumann the composer may often be detected. Thus the ' Davidsbiindler' come into his music, and the composition which bears their name was originally entitled ' Davidsbiindler dances for the Pianoforte, dedicated to Walther von Goethe by Florestan and Eusebius.' The title of the Fj minor Sonata, op. n, which was completed in 1835, runs thus : ' Pianoforte Sonata. Dedi- cated to Clara by Florestan and Eusebius.' In the ' Carnaval,' a set of separate and shorter pieces with a title to each, the names of Flores- tan and Eusebius occur again, as do those of Chiarina (the diminutive of Clara), and Chopin ; the whole concluding with a march of the Davids- bundler against the Philistines.

The reception of Schumann's works by the critics was most favourable and encouraging, but the public was repelled by their eccentricity and originality ; and it was not till after the appear- ance of the 'Kinderscenen' (1839) that they began to be appreciated. Ops. I and 2 actually had the honour of a notice in the Vienna ' Musik - alische Zeitung' of 1832, by no less a person than Grillparzer the poet. Fink designedly took hardly any notice of Schumann in the 'Allge- meine musikalische Zeitung.' But Liszt wrote a long, discriminating, and very favourable article in the 'Gazette Musicale' of 1837 upon the Im- promptus (op. 5), and the Sonatas in FJ minor and F minor. Moscheles wrote very sympatheti- cally on the two sonatas in the Neue Zeitschrift fur Musik' itself (vols 5 and 6), and some kind words of recognition of Schumann's genius were published subsequently from his diary (Mosche- les's 'Leben,' Leipzig, 1873, vol. ii. p. 15 ; English- translation by A. D. Coleridge, vol. ii. p. 19, 20). Other musicians, though not expressing their sentiments publicly, continued to hold aloof from him. Hauptmann at that time calls Schu- mann's pianoforte compositions ' pretty and curious little things, all wanting in proper

�� �