Friedrich von Schiller (1813-1892)

Postcard illustration after a painting by Anton Graff, circa 1925 (StadtMuseum Bonn, Inventory No.: SMB 2009/008)
Postcard illustration after a painting by Anton Graff, circa 1925 (StadtMuseum Bonn, Inventory No.: SMB 2009/008)

Robert Schumann began to deal with Schiller’s work when he was still as student. In the literary association, founded by him in 1825, nine works of Schiller were studied within three years, including Die Jungfrau von Orleans [The Maid of Orleans], Maria Stuart [Mary Stuart], Wilhelm Tell [William Tell] and Don Carlos. The adolescents read the plays with parts assigned to different people, and also spent time on Schiller’s biography. In later years, Schumann recorded in his reading booklet (Lektürebüchlein) the correspondence between Goethe and Schiller and between Schiller and Körner. Schumann’s Dichtergarten [Poet’s Garden] contains extracts from Schiller’s work. His attendance of plays in Munich (Kabale und Liebe [Intrigue and Love]) in 1828 and in Vienna (Fiesco) in 1838 is documented by his diary entries. 

In 1849/1850, Schumann set a poem by Schiller to music for the first time, the ballad Der Handschuh für eine Singstimme mit Begleitung des Pianoforte [The Glove for one voice and pianoforte accompaniment], Op. 87, printed in Leipzig by publisher F. Whisting in 1850. Inspired by the libretto after Schiller’s Die Braut von Messina [The Bride of Messina] by the young music commentator Richard Pohl, Schumann still in the same year applied himself to this subject as well and composed an overture whose special meaning for Schumann can also be noticed by its opus number 100. Its premiere innDüsseldorf in 1851, however, did not meet the composer’s expectations (see also http://www.schumann-portal.de/op-100.html). 

Sigrid Lange (translated by Thomas Henninger)

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