Kreisleriana, Op. 16, Movement 2, performed by me, November, 2009
Romantic music (music written between 1820 and 1900, generally) tends to emphasize melody with warmth and expressiveness and with something of a searching, restless quality. The music of Schumann is an excellent example of these qualities as his compositions are known for having a moody nature - varying suddenly and wildly between exuberance and deep depression.
Until 1840, Schumann wrote almost exclusively piano music. Written in the 30s, Kreisleriana was based on a character by E.T.A. Hoffmann. A literary experiment, Hofmann tried to depict a novel written by both a philosopher of sorts and his housecat! Schumann, being the son of a book dealer and publisher and grew up with a thorough knowledge of literature, which he maintained an interest in throughout his life. Though titles for his pieces usually didn’t come to him until after he had finished composing them, Schumann purposefully determined to translate Hoffmann’s character into music with this experiment in eight movements.
The first three of these eight I played on a recent concert. In this one, the second movement, listen for the dramatic changes in character, evidence of the extreme uses of the piano in the romantic period, and those portions of the pieces that might represent the philosopher, and those that might represent his cat.
Again, for those who may think this post is copyright infringement:
Schumann has been dead for over a century, Monte approved my use of his photo, the performance is ME, and the original performance was free and open to the public. Considering all of that, please enjoy the performance of a piece I intend to always keep in my repertoire.