Engraved likeness of Robert Schumann

Robert Schumann

“It is music’s lofty mission to shed light on the depths of the heart.”
–Robert Schumann, composer and pianist

June 8, 2010 marked the 200 anniversary of the birth of Robert Schumann (1810-1856).

The quintessential Romantic composer, Schumann wrote more than 150 works of exceptional variety. And the radiance of his musical voice continues to enchant audiences worldwide.

Schumann’s Output

He composed a wealth of piano music and solo songs as well as four symphonies, an opera, and a mix of compositions for solo instrument with orchestra.

His chamber music output includes three string quartets, three piano trios, three violin sonatas, plus a quartet and a quintet for piano and strings, and significantly more.

He was also a pioneering pianist whose compositions, along with those of his contemporaries Franz Liszt (1811-1886) and Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849), helped expand the pianistic universe to previously uncharted dimensions.

Yet he also wrote student-level piano pieces, which millions of aspiring keyboardists enjoy to this day.

To commemorate Schumann’s birthday, in this post, I bring together a range of online resources that offer scores, recordings of the composer’s work, historical information, stylistic insights, and more.

Schumann on the Web

For a list of compositions catalogued by opus number, visit the Internet Music Score Library Project (IMSLP) – all of Schumann’s works are available for free download.

You can also browse Schumann’s compositions sorted alphabetically by title on this page on the IMSLP site.

The Bavarian State Library has made available a free online edition of Schumann’s complete works (also found on the IMSLP). Originally published by Breitkopf & Hartel in Leipzig from 1881-1893, the 14 volumes were edited by Clara Schumann. Scores can be viewed online and downloaded for educational purposes.

For now, few autograph facsimiles of Schumann’s compositions are available for viewing on the Internet. But a number of fascinating manuscripts are posted on the website of the Juilliard Manuscript Collection and in the Schumann Exhibit organized by the Gilmore Music Library at Yale University.

In addition, Henle Verlag publishes the autograph of the Forest Scenes (Waldszenen) op. 82 for piano, and sample pages can be viewed online. Henle also just released a new edition of Schumann’s complete works for piano, plus they launched a Schumann Forum, with articles authored by Managing Director Wolf-Dieter Seiffert.

The German government has funded an extensive Schumann portal with lists of events and plenty of links. Similarly, the city of Zwickau, where Schumann grew up, publishes a website with photo tours of the Schumann house, a calendar of local activities, and more.

For an introductory audio program about Schumann’s life and music, check out the podcast on ClassicsForKids.com. Recordings of Schumann’s compositions can readily be browsed on the Naxos website.

If you’re looking for translations of Schumann’s song texts, stop by the Lied and Art Song Texts Page.

Singers and pianists will also benefit from studying Richard Miller’s Singing Schumann: An Interpretive Guide for Performers (Oxford, 1999) and Robert Schumann: The Book of Songs by Jon W. Finson (Harvard, 2007).

For explorations of Schumann’s life, creative process, and music journalism, preview John Daverio’s 600-page biography Robert Schumann: Herald of a New Poetic Age (Oxford, 1997), Schumann by Eric Jensen (Oxford, 2001), and the Cambridge Companion to Schumann edited by Beate Perrey (Cambridge, 2003).The Musician's Way book cover

For a quick read, there’s a biography on Wikipedia; also see this post on composer Lawrence Dillon’s blog titled “What I love about Robert.”

Lastly, I’d like to share with you the following video of Vladimir Horowitz playing Schumann’s exquisite Träumerei (Reverie) from Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood), the first of three encores that the pianist performed at his final Moscow concert in April of 1986.

Alles Gute zum Geburtstag, Herr Schumann!


© 2010 Gerald Klickstein
Photo via Yale University Library