Music | Robert Schumann
M502 | 8795 | Thomas Mathiesen

Robert Schumann

This course is designed to introduce you to the life and work of
Robert Schumann, certainly one of the most original and influential
composers of the first half of the nineteenth century. No
consideration of Schumann's life and much of his work would be
complete without a parallel treatment of Clara Schumann, and her
important contributions will form a counterpoint to the various
themes of the course.
The course will begin with a biographical section presented
largely in the form of excerpts from the composer's own letters and
diaries, the marriage diary the Schumanns exchanged with each other
for a few years, the household books, Schumann's many published
writings, and the enormous number of documents pertaining to Schumann
written by his family, friends (and enemies), publishers, and
doctors. This extraordinary array of documentation enables a rich and
nuanced view of Schumann's life that is rarely possible for other
The second part of the course will be devoted to an examination
of a large cross-section of Schumann's work, following his
chronological development as a composer. We will begin with the piano
music and the songs and then turn to the symphonies and chamber
music. Later in his life, Schumann was very much occupied with large-
scale dramatic works, and we will examine his little-known opera,
Genoveva (op. 81), as well as Das Paradies und die Peri (op. 50), Der
Rose Pilgerfahrt (op. 112), the choral ballades, Szenen aus Geothes
Faust, and the moving Missa sacra (op. 147) and Requiem (op. 148).
The course will require a substantial amount of listening and
reading, participation in class discussions, and a final examination
that will include a listening section and a written section.
For further information, please feel free to contact me at or 855-5471.