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Robert Schumann's Symphonic Etudes, Opus 13: A critical overview with a re-evaluation of editorial and performance practice issues

Ian James Moschenross, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This document deals with one of the most problematic piano works of the nineteenth century, and certainly one of Robert Schumann's most labored compositional efforts, the Symphonic Etudes, Opus 13. The work underwent eighteen years of evolution, from its composition beginning in 1834 to its second published version in 1852. Schumann referred to the work by at least eight different titles during his life. Indeed, Symphonic Etudes has continued to have a troubled history even after his death. Clara Schumann, Johannes Brahms, and many others have left their sometimes controversial marks on its publication and numerous editions. Over the last 166 years, pianists have had to grapple with many editorial problems and complex performance practice choices. Although Symphonic Etudes has been addressed in a previous dissertation, two theses, and a doctoral essay in varying depths of coverage, a considerable amount of recent research has been generated dealing with this work, which therefore warrants a re-examination. The author seeks to synthesize both old and new resources into an updated document, relevant to the twenty-first century pianist. ^ Chapter One introduces the issues addressed in the document. Chapter Two investigates Schumann's personal and professional activity during the years immediately preceding and including the composition and publication of the first edition, as well as the musical influences on the work. Chapter Three examines the composition and revision processes, the extant manuscript sources, and critiques some of the available editions. Chapter Three concludes with a section devoted to the compositional and editorial history of the Supplemental Variations. Chapter Four is a brief analytical overview of Opus 13, with special attention given to particular editorial, technical, and performance practice issues. This chapter is organized according to the performance order of etudes/variations used by the author. A summary and concluding remarks comprise Chapter Five. An appendix includes an annotated discography, which presents a representative sampling of commercially available recordings of Symphonic Etudes . ^

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Recommended Citation

Moschenross, Ian James, "Robert Schumann's Symphonic Etudes, Opus 13: A critical overview with a re-evaluation of editorial and performance practice issues" (2003). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3092578.