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Stefaniak Rochester

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  • Poetic Virtuosity:

    Robert Schumann as a Critic and Composer

    of Virtuoso Instrumental Music

    (Volume One)


    Alexander Stefaniak

    Submitted in Partial Fulfillment

    of the

    Requirements for the Degree

    Doctor of Philosophy

    Supervised by

    Professor Ralph P. Locke

    Department of Musicology Eastman School of Music

    University of Rochester Rochester, New York


  • ii

    Curriculum Vitae

    Alexander Stefaniak was born in Parma, Ohio on August 13, 1983. He attended Baldwin-

    Wallace College from 2002 to 2006 and graduated summa cum laude with Bachelor of

    Music degrees in Music History and Literature and Piano Performance. He came to the

    University of Rochester in August 2007 and began studies in musicology at the Eastman

    School of Music with the support of a Sproull Fellowship. Work as a teaching assistant

    and graduate instructor at Eastman and at the College of Arts and Sciences led in 2010 to

    an Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence in Teaching by a Graduate Student.

    Additional fellowships from Eastman include the Ann Clark Fehn Award (2007) and two

    Graue Fellowships (2008 and 2009). Prof. Ralph P. Locke supervised his dissertation

    work, and a Glenn Watkins Traveling Fellowship supported research in Germany during

    Fall 2011. In August 2012, Alexander will begin an appointment as Assistant Professor

    of Musicology at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

    Publications to date:

    Review of Lettres de Franz Liszt la Princesse Marie de Hohenlohe-Schillingsfrst ne de Sayn-Wittgenstein. Edited by Pauline Pocknell, Malou Haine, and Nicolas Dufetel. Journal of the American Liszt Society (forthcoming).

  • iii


    Perhaps the most delightful aspect of writing a dissertation has been the opportunity to

    meet and work with many generous people who are passionate about the scholarly study

    of music. I owe especial thanks to my readers: Prof. Ralph P. Locke (who served as my

    primary advisor), Prof. Holly Watkins, and Prof. William Marvin. All three gave freely of

    their own considerable and varied expertise, shared their infectious curiosity and

    fascination with nineteenth-century music, and constantly challenged me to think more

    deeply about my subject and craft. Other faculty at the Eastman School of Music and the

    University of Rochester who have contributed to my dissertation work include Prof.

    Melina Esse (who led our dissertation writers group), Prof. Reinhild Steingrver (who

    helped with several of the trickier German translations), Prof. Celia Applegate (who

    offered her insights on German musical culture at various stages of this project), and

    Prof. Seth Monahan (who provided some life-saving technological pointers).

    Two fellowships from the University of Rochestera Sproull Fellowship and a

    Glenn Watkins Traveling Fellowshipallowed me to complete this dissertation on time

    and to pursue research in Germany during Fall 2011. In Germany, I benefitted greatly

    from the advice and hospitality of several scholars, librarians, and archivists, notably Dr.

    Matthias Wendt and his staff at the Robert-Schumann-Forschungsstelle in Dsseldorf,

    Dr. Thomas Synofzik and Dr. Hrosvith Dahmen of the Robert Schumann Haus in

    Zwickau, and the staff of the Musiklesesaal at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich.

    Prof. Rufus Hallmark provided some indispensable advice prior to my research trip, and

    Dr. Katelijne Schiltz and Dr. Wolfgang Rathert were congenial, helpful contacts and

    guides during my stay in Munich.

  • iv

    In the United States, I enjoyed the assistance of Prof. Ruskin King Cooper,

    American representative of the Schuncke Archive (who kindly sent me copies of several

    very-hard-to-find scores), Prof. Claudia Macdonald (who shared the unpublished English

    version of one of John Daverios articles), and David Peter Coppen of Sibley Music

    Library Special Collections. In January 2012, Prof. Robert Mayerovitch of Baldwin-

    Wallace College collaborated with me on a lecture-recital and gave back-to-back

    performances of Schumanns tudes symphoniques and unpublished Fantaisies et finale,

    an experience that led to me to refine some of the points I make about these works.

    Finally, some of my discussions depend on material received from the Bibliothque du

    Muse Royale de Mariemont in Belgium, the British Library, the Newberry Library, and

    the University of California, Berkeley.

    Last but not least, a cohort of friends and family members provided indispensable

    moral support during my work on this dissertation. My fellow Eastman graduate students

    Andrew Aziz, Regina Compton, Naomi Gregory, Katherine Hutchings, Samantha Inman,

    Amy Kintner, and Kira Thurman listened to conference-paper rehearsals, exchanged

    drafts, and formed a supportive community. My parents, Martha and Carl, and my

    brother, Andy, have long nurtured my interest in music scholarship and were ever ready

    to learn more about Robert Schumann and the process of writing a dissertation. And,

    finally, Eliana Haig was there from the beginning of this project to the end: she helped in

    ways big and small, supplying a musicians ear, good humor, and unwavering


  • v


    In this dissertation, I explore Robert Schumanns activities as a critic and composer of

    virtuoso instrumental music. I argue that the view of Schumann as the consummate anti-

    virtuoso polemicistcurrent in Romantic critical discourse as well as present-day

    scholarly literatureis an oversimplified one. Instead, Schumann played a significant

    role in the nineteenth-century German interaction between virtuosity, Romantic

    aesthetics, and the ideology of serious music. German Romantic composers and critics

    regarded virtuosity, on one hand, more as a source of crowd-pleasing entertainment than

    as high art but, on the other, as a source of astonishment, originality, and audience appeal.

    Schumann himself worked to promote (as critic) and realize (as composer) a self-

    consciously serious, transcendent approach to virtuosity. Chapter 1 argues that Schumann

    directed his critique of virtuosity at a specific repertory that recent scholars have termed

    postclassical. This styleexemplified by the works of Henri Herz and Carl Czerny

    prized accessibility and elegance, and Schumanns writings on postclassical showpieces

    comment on their style and conventions as well as on the cultural significance of this

    repertory. Chapters 2 and 3 explore ways in which Schumann sought to poeticize and

    elevate virtuosity by combining postclassical conventions with Romantic musical

    metaphors for inwardness and transcendence. The second discusses how Schumanns

    concept of the poetic informed his approach to virtuosity. The third argues that

    Schumann viewed virtuosity as a potential source of sublime experience and, moreover,

    that contemporary critics received several of his own showpieces as sublime. Chapter 4

    considers writings in which Schumann argues for a symbiotic relationship between

    virtuosos and musical institutions he regarded as serious. This ideal, I argue, shaped the

  • vi

    style and structure of Schumanns own concertos, which stage virtuosic display as part of

    the symphony-centered concert and incorporate the virtuoso into the idealized community

    of the professional symphony orchestra. Schumann thus participated influentially in a

    discourse that did not establish a binaristic opposition between virtuosity and serious

    music or attempt to suppress public interest in virtuosity but rather created various ways

    of customizing contemporary virtuosity according to the ideology of serious music and

    the aesthetic imperatives of German Romanticism.

  • vii

    Table of Contents

    Volume 1

    Curriculum Vitae ii

    Acknowledgements iii

    Abstract v

    Note to the Reader 1

    Introduction 2

    Chapter 1 Schumanns Critique of Postclassical Virtuosity 32

    Virtuosity as Entertainment: The Postclassical Style 36

    Schumann and the Neue Zeitschrifts Critique of Postclassical Virtuosity 57 Virtuoso Entertainment and Aristocratic Frivolity 66 Epilogue: Henriette Voigt and the Poetic Salon 75 Chapter 2 Virtuosity and the Schumannian Poetic 80 Ein Opus II 86 A Poetic Virtuoso Makes his Debut:

    Schumanns Abegg Variations, Opus 1 102 A Pianistic Sampler and a Poetic Network: Schumanns Unpublished Fantaisies et finale 112 From Chiaroscuro Depth to Poetic Distance: Poetic Texture and Figuration, According to Schumann 129 Chapter 3 Schumanns 1830s Showpieces and the Rhetoric of the Sublime 145 Sublime Virtuosity in Schumanns Critical Writings 155 Poeticizing and Appropriating Paganini: The Roots of Schumanns Sublime Virtuosity 162 A Concerto with an Ocean for a Finale 171

  • viii

    A Toccata Emblazoned with the Name of Beethoven 183 From the Poetic to the (Beethovenian?) Sublime: The 1837 tudes symphon