Presenter Information

Samantha Duhé, Department of Musicianship

Abstract

At first glance, Robert Schumann’s Adagio und Allegro for horn and piano, Op. 70 appears to be simply one showpiece out of many the composer wrote in his later years to appeal to a middle class market of amateur musicians. The piece is often dismissed as such, and as a result, scholars tend to exclude it from their discourse on Schumann’s expressive musical techniques. Adagio und Allegro is yet to have been investigated in light of this discourse. One of the composer’s musical devices, recognized by Berthold Hoeckner (1997), is to mimic the sound of a tone fading into the distance to achieve philosophical or poetic effect. Laura Wahlfors (2016) considers memory to be another of Schumann’s devices, arguing that he alludes obliquely to other literary and musical works to make the listener experience an absent past. My project aims to demonstrate how Schumann uses these poetic techniques in Adagio und Allegro, and that the choice of horn as the solo instrument is crucial to his expressive intent in the piece. Schumann applies these techniques of distance and memory to the horn itself at a transitional period in the instrument’s development in order to demonstrate how progress can be a celebration, rather than a rejection, of historic traditions.

School

Mary Pappert School of Music

Advisor

Dr. Benjamin Binder

Submission Type

Paper

Included in

Musicology Commons

Share

COinS
 

The Poetic Horn: Rethinking Expressive Intent in Schumann's Adagio und Allegro, Op. 70

At first glance, Robert Schumann’s Adagio und Allegro for horn and piano, Op. 70 appears to be simply one showpiece out of many the composer wrote in his later years to appeal to a middle class market of amateur musicians. The piece is often dismissed as such, and as a result, scholars tend to exclude it from their discourse on Schumann’s expressive musical techniques. Adagio und Allegro is yet to have been investigated in light of this discourse. One of the composer’s musical devices, recognized by Berthold Hoeckner (1997), is to mimic the sound of a tone fading into the distance to achieve philosophical or poetic effect. Laura Wahlfors (2016) considers memory to be another of Schumann’s devices, arguing that he alludes obliquely to other literary and musical works to make the listener experience an absent past. My project aims to demonstrate how Schumann uses these poetic techniques in Adagio und Allegro, and that the choice of horn as the solo instrument is crucial to his expressive intent in the piece. Schumann applies these techniques of distance and memory to the horn itself at a transitional period in the instrument’s development in order to demonstrate how progress can be a celebration, rather than a rejection, of historic traditions.