Recorded on 10/21/1991, uploaded on 03/21/2011
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
Fantasiestücke, op. 12, a set of eight pieces for piano, was composed in 1837. Schumann was greatly influenced by literature, as his father was a bookkeeper, publisher, and novelist, and the title of this work reflects that. It was largely inspired by the 1814 collection of novellas Fantasiestücke in Callots Manier by E.T.A. Hoffmann. Other pieces of Schumann’s were also inspired by literature including Kreisleriana and Papillons.
It is not just that title, however, that was influenced by literature. Schumann had invented two fictitious characters, or alter egos, to represent the duality of his own personality. Eusebius represented the dreamy, introspective side and Florestan, the passionate. Schumann’s characters were modeled after Vult and Valt in Jean Paul’s novel Flegeljahre. Eusebius and Florestan made many appearances both in Schumann’s music and his critical writings.
Like the earlier Davidsbündlertänze, Fantasiestücke is designed as a musical dialogue between Florestan and Eusebius. Eusebius begins the work with "Des Abends" ("In the Evening") which is to represent a "gentle picture of dusk." Florestan then has his turn with "Aufschwung" ("Soaring"). The two characters alternate in each piece, until both are represented in the fifth piece "In der Nacht" ("In the Night") and in the sixth "Fabel" ("Fable"). The seventh piece, "Traumes Wirren" ("Dream’s Confusion"), is suggestive of the struggle within Schumann and describes the character of Eusebius under the influence of Florestan. Finally, the work concludes with "Ende vom Lied" ("End of the Song") and it is Eusebius that has the last word. Schumann described the final piece in a letter to his wife Clara thus: "At the time, I thought: well in the end it all resolves itself into a jolly wedding. But at the close, my painful anxiety about you returned." Joseph DuBose
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