Involvement In Resurrecting J. S. Bach Analysis

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Schumann’s Involvement in Resurrecting J.S. Bach

As editor and writer for his own music journal, Neue Zeitscrift für Musik, Robert Schumann made it his personal mission to write about worthy composers and lift them up as examples to the music community. He was tired of the “Philistines” of the current music establishment, such as Wagner and Meyerbeer, who he felt were commercial and pretentious. He brought Brahms and Chopin to Germany’s notice, because he felt that their music was “honest craft.”

When Schumann discovered the works of J.S. Bach, he readily used his literary platform to inform the public Bach’s worthiness. Mendelssohn, Schumann’s respected friend, showed him Bach’s choral works. They both fell in love with the work “Schmucke dich, o liebe Seele.” Schumann commented on this piece to Mendelssohn, “Round the cantus firmus hung the golden garlands of
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It is full of noble expression—and the last movement might almost remind one of a seascape, with its glorious waves of sound.” The “nobleness” of sound may be attributed to Schumann’s frequent use of the low range of the violin. The “significance” of its themes can be seen in the first movement, where the insistent rhythm drives the melody through passing from violin to piano.

The second movement, as described by Abrahm Loft, starts as if mid-thought, and rambles on in a wandering and whimsical fashion till it reaches the “glorious waves of sound” in the third movement. The violin and piano are instantly set in motion with running 16ths that build to reoccurring unison chords, creating a tumultuous sea of passion. In true Romantic style, his music evokes poetic images of the sea without being directly imitative or symbolic. Schumann’s music is honest and naturally is Romantic without trying to be. And the proof of his work is heard in Joachim’s own words.

-Michelle

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