Schumann (55+)

Robert Schumann (1810–1856) managed to balance a career as a journalist and critic with a career as one of the most original composers of his generation. His piano music and songs are widely loved and admired, but his orchestral, chamber and choral works also include numerous outstanding works.

We will explore the breadth and range of Schumann’s creative output, from characteristic piano pieces and song cycles to symphonies and oratorios.

Note: This course is also available on Thursdays; see LIB175.

Please note that enrollment in this course is reserved for adults 55+.

Currently not available for registration.

What will I learn?

Week 1: Piano music

The first decade of Schumann's composing career was dedicated to music for his own instrument, the piano. His most popular works from this period include PapillonsCarnaval and the Fantasie in C Major.

Week 2: 1840, The Year of Song

The year of Schumann's long-delayed marriage to Clara Wieck witnessed a remarkable outpouring of songs for voice and piano, including the magnificent cycles Frauenliebe und -leben and Dichterliebe.

Week 3: Symphonies

Schumann's four symphonies demonstrate a vivid and poetic orchestral imagination, and rank among the greatest works in this genre between Beethoven and Brahms.

Week 4: Concertos and overtures

The Piano Concerto in A Minor and Cello Concerto in A Minor are beloved by soloists over the world for their lyricism and virtuosity. We will explore these in detail, along with some of Schumann's lesser-known shorter works for orchestra.

Week 5: Chamber music

Schumann's three string quartets, Piano Quintet and Piano Quartet are masterworks of the chamber music literature that deserve to be better known.

Week 6: Choral and dramatic music

Schumann's most ambitious large-scale works include the oratorio Das Paradies und die Peri, the opera Genoveva and the Szenen aus Goethes Faust. We will consider the importance of these works to the composer's output and the reasons for their unjust neglect.

How will I learn?

  • Lectures
  • Discussion (may vary from class to class)
  • Papers (applicable only to certificate students)

How will I be evaluated?

For certificate students only:

Your instructor will evaluate you based on an essay, which you will complete at the end of the course. You will receive a grade of “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.”

Textbooks and learning materials

Reading material (if applicable) will be available in class.

If you're 55+, you may take this course as part of

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